If you love garlic like me, then you will want to make some space in your garden to grow some this year! Below are 7 tips to help you get started.
1. Best Variety of Garlic for Texas Climate
There are two types of garlic, softneck and hardneck. Softneck does best in our Texas warmer climate, store longer and are most likely what you buy in the grocery store. Hardneck varieties are more suitable for colder climates and have a shorter shelf life. When looking to purchase make sure you get a softneck variety if you are growing in Central Texas.
2. Where Can You Buy Garlic for Planting
Garlic can be purchased from local farmers markets and possibly local nurseries. It is great if you can shop local. If you are not able to find any local then the here are a few online retailers sell garlic: Botanical Interests, High Mowing Seeds, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Renee’s Garden.
One last option is to buy organic garlic from a local grocery store. This is the least reliable option but definitely worth trying if you are in a pinch and can’t buy garlic locally or online otherwise.
3. When is the Best Time to Plant Garlic
Fall is the best time to plant your garlic cloves. About a month before the ground freezes. The best time to plant in the Central Texas area is mid-October. You can plant anytime from September to December, but mid-October is the best time to get those cloves in the ground.
4. How to Plant Garlic
Plant in an area that gets at least 6-8 hrs of sun. Garlic needs sun for proper developement of the bulbs. Make sure your soil is loose and well draining. Add some compost and all purpose fertilizer such as Microlife’s Multi-Purpose Fertilizer. Break apart the garlic bulbs into the individual cloves, leaving the paper skins on. Soak for a few hours up to overnight, but no longer than 24hrs, in water with some liquid seaweed. I love Microlife’s Super Seaweed. Plant the cloves, pointy end up, about 2″-3″ deep and 4″- 6″ apart. You can plant them in rows or you can tuck a clove here and there around your garden.
5. How to Care for Garlic as it Grows
Water the garlic well as it is growing. It is best to water deeply and less often. As the garlic comes to the end of growth cycle, water less often to let the bulbs start firming up. This will be around April to May depending on when the garlic was planted.
Provide monthly organic fertilizer. I love to water deeply with Microlife’s Super Seaweed.
6. How to Harvest Garlic
Most softneck garlic is ready to harvest within 6-8 months of planting. It will depend on the weather and the variety of garlic planted. The best way to know when to test out if the garlic is ready is when half of the lower leaves have turned brown. Take one out of the ground and see if it’s ready. After the garlic is all harvested from the ground, do not wash off the dirt. The garlic needs to dry and cure for proper long term storage. Place the garlic, in a single layer, on slatted shelves or the floor to allow for proper airflow. It is best to do this inside a garage or house or anywhere that it is dry with a temperature of 70-80 degrees. Pro tip: Use a small fan to keep air circulation while drying.
7. How to Store Garlic
When the garlic stems are dried, trim off the roots and the stems to about 1″ in length. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place. Mesh bags work great for storage! Pro tip: Save the largest cloves for planting next fall.