Autumn isn't traditionally known as a time to begin planting outdoors, but it happens to be the perfect time to plant garlic. The ideal time to plant is after the first frost in October and before the end of November.
There are two categories of garlic:
- Softneck garlic is more commonly available in supermarkets because it's easier to grow in a variety of climates.
- Hardneck garlic is larger and easier to peel, and it's popular with chefs for its variety of complex flavors.
Of the hundreds of hardneck varieties available, Martha likes to plant Red Toch, Siberian, Chesnok Red, Keeper, Music, and Silver White.
Garlic Planting How-To
1. Break apart the garlic bulb. There should be between 4-7 cloves per bulb.
2. To yield the largest bulbs, pick out the largest cloves to plant. Leave the outer skins on and don't separate the cloves until you are ready to plant.
3. Plant the cloves root end down, pointed end up. Space them 6 to 8 inches apart.
4. Cover the cloves with 2 inches of soil, preferably soil with plenty of organic matter.
5. Add a 6-inch layer of mulch, which you'll leave on until harvesting.
6. Don't forget to label your garlic so you remember which variety you planted.
7. The garlic should emerge in the early spring. During the growing season, give it about 1 inch of water per week.
Find the right garlic variety for your garden at seedsavers.org or johnnyseeds.com.