when to plant garlic

IMG_9812 old garlic sprouts
topsets garlic sprouts

I am in the middle of planting my garlic now. I planted two types last weekend. Today I planted some heirloom top sets (photo bottom left) of a variety called “Old Homestead”. Also several large heads of cloves that I saved from the Farmer’s Market.

There seem to be different ideas on when to plant garlic. The photo above (left) is from my nearby community garden and the garlic is very well sprouted. They must have planted it mid-summer!

I spoke with a farmer at the Farmer’s Market recently who said people tend to plant too early. He things it grows better planted late, when the days are cold. The old rule of thumb is to plant your garlic on the shortest day of the year (Dec 21). In my area, you likely can’t get a shovel in the ground on that day.

I noticed some volunteer garlic sprouts coming up in my garden this week. Must be some I missed harvesting this summer. They are in the two photos on the right. They probably sprouted a couple weeks ago.

I don’t have much experience growing garlic yet. Its only my second year. My cloves were small but very flavorful this year. I have been trying to read what I can find about growing garlic. Here’s a nice article from a Cornell site. Of course, a great garlic resource is Patrick’s posts at Bifurcated Carrots (by the way, he has more garlic posts than carrot posts).

8 Comments. Leave new

  • I agree, most people seem to plant their garlic a bit early. I’ve always thought of November as the month to do it, but it really doesn’t matter much.

    Like you said, you can’t do it after the ground is hard, and I’ve never been much of a fan of gardening while it was so cold my fingers were going numb.

    My garlic all went in about 2 weeks ago. Now I have to put some straw on it to cover it for the winter.

    Reply
  • I have started planting garlic for the first time. I just planted mine yesterday, and here I thought I was planting it too late!

    I didn’t have enough forethought to actually by sets, so I got some garlic from the store and used the cloves from that. We will see if I have any luck! Since it is OK to plant it late, I might see if I can pick up a better variety to plant too.

    Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  • I planted 1/2 my garlic a few weeks ago, maybe too early for California. But it started to sprout like that picture within two weeks. I planted the rest this weekend as I peeled the skin off the clove I noticed some of the cloves had already started to sprout. I ordered this garlic specifically for planting so maybe that makes a difference? This is my first time planting so it should be interesting to see if I did it right.

    Reply
  • I also planted store bought garlic for the first time last year. I planted it on October 26. It did well and I got lots of tiny but delicious cloves. Good luck with yours. It sounds like it’ll work fine. I think there’s a pretty broad time window for planting garlic.

    Reply
  • Peter, Woburn MA
    April 23, 2008 7:35 PM

    I too planted Garlic in November. It started to sprout and then all evidence of the bulbs has gone following the winter frosts and snow. Will it come back?

    Reply
  • I am very interested in planting my garlic topset that I harvested this year. Do I need to keep them refrigerated like you would cloves? Thank!

    Reply
  • You should not refrigerate them. They should be kept at room temperature and dry.

    I would go ahead and plant them now in rich soil with full sun. They will take several years to get big enough to harvest, so plant in an area where you do not need to disturb them. Mulch to protect the small shoots from the hot sun and drying out. They will be very tiny when they sprout. They will come up again next spring and be a little bigger.

    Good luck.

    Reply
  • Oh thank you for that! I have them in a brown paper bag in the pantry. I will see about getting a place ready to plant them. Since they will take so long, I will put them on my perennial bed.

    Reply

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