of Growing Garlic
Prepare a well-groomed seedbed of rich compost
or composted manure. Break the bulb into individual cloves.
Plant cloves 5-6" deep and 4-6" apart, mid to late
October, to early November, before the ground freezes. (Time
frames are for central Maine, Zone 4.)
Mulch with 4-6" of hay, leaves or straw.
In spring, move the mulch away from around the emerging garlic
tips to free up any spears struggling to pierce through, then
replace it close to the stems.
Top dress or foliar feed, and provide adequate moisture during
the growing season to encourage the formation of larger bulbs.
Cut off the flower stalks, known as scapes, as they curl around;
eat them green, compost them, or dry them for winter arrangements.
If you leave the stalks on, the underground bulbs may be smaller,
but you can harvest top-set bulbils to plant in fall for fresh
greens next spring or new full-size bulbs in two years.
Poke around a few garlic bulbs in late July or early August
to check growth. Pull when bottom leaves are yellow, 5-6 green
leaves remain, before cloves begin to separate. Cure in a
shaded airy place, 60-70°, until dry. You may need to
dehumidify air during a very wet season. Do not field-cure.
Trim, clean, store in a cool dry place and enjoy through the
Turbo-Charged Blue-Ribbon Garlic Growing Tips
• Big bulbs need space for roots,
high levels of nitrogen, sufficient trace minerals, and consistent
• The roots of garlic spread 3-4" on either side
of the bulb. Plant the cloves 10" apart to optimize root
growth and nutrient uptake. Space rows 1' apart. Push individual
cloves down about 1-1/2", so the tip of the clove is
just at the soil surface.
• Cover the bed with 2-3" of well-rotted compost.
Then add nitrogen sources such as a heavy application of composted
manure, or a mix of either alfalfa meal (3#/100 sq ft) or
fish meal (3#/100 sq ft) with soybean meal (5#/100 sq ft).
Fish and alfalfa meals feed the fall root growth; the soybean
meal breaks down slowly and is available the following spring.
• Azomite (2#/100 sq ft) supplies trace minerals critical
to increasing the overall size of the bulbs. Kelp meal (1#/100
sq ft) is an option which supplies even more minerals.
• Mulch provides protection from frost heaving, and
weed protection and moisture regulation in summer. Apply mulch
after fall planting, and leave mulch on throughout the spring
• Water crop during prolonged dry spells.
• In mid-June, just as the garlic begins to form heads,
sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of blood meal around each stalk, to
give a charge of nitrogen just when it is needed.