of Growing Garlic
• Prepare a well-groomed seedbed of
rich compost or composted manure. Break the bulb into individual
• Plant cloves 5-6" deep and 4-8" apart, mid
to late October, to early November, ideally four weeks before
the ground freezes. (Time frames are for central Maine, Zone
4.) More food and more space generally gives larger bulbs.
• Mulch with 4-6" of hay, leaves or straw.
• In spring, move the mulch away from the emerging tips
to free up any spears struggling to get through, then replace
it close in, to keep weeds down and moisture levels even.
• Top dress or foliar feed, and provide adequate moisture
during the growing season to encourage the formation of larger
• Cut off the “flower” stalks, known as
scapes, as they curl around; eat them, compost them, or dry
them for winter arrangements. If you leave the scapes on,
the underground bulbs may be smaller, but you can harvest
top-set bulbils. Eat them or plant them in fall for fresh
greens the 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. Use a fork to loosen the soil, and
lift the bulbs 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 a dehumidifier
during a very wet season. Do not field-cure.
• Trim, clean, store in a cool dry place, then enjoy.
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.