As we get ready for Halloween, it’s the perfect time to think about how you can naturally vampire-proof your garden. Planting garlic around the perimeter will protect your veggie beds from getting tramped in the night while they vant to suck your bloooood.
In all seriousness, it’s a good reminder to plant garlic when you start thinking about Halloween, at least that’s the case in Vancouver. If you live elsewhere, a rule of thumb is that garlic should be planted between 3 and 6 weeks before the ground freezes, to ensure there is enough time for the roots to develop. The moisture and cold of the soil will wake the bulb from dormancy and start this process. After that, growth is slow and a thick skin (figuratively) is necessary to make it through the winter. Next spring the leaves will sprout and grow until harvest time next summer. For more on summer harvesting andcooking with garlic scapes, click here.
Choose Your Bulbs
When planting garlic in your garden, it’s best to use heads grown specifically for planting. Store bought garlic can carry disease or be treated with chemicals, both of which can be difficult to remove from your soil once planted. Buy seed from a trusted source like a seed company or farmer’s market vendor that you trust. I also do this when Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds.
Garlic likes a sunny location but only needs enough room for the bulbs to reach full size. Space plants around 6” apart and they should have enough room. Space them farther apart for large bulbs and closer together for smaller ones.
Garlic is perfect planted at the back of a border or vegetable garden. Keep in mind that the bulbs won’t be fully matured and ready for harvest until summer, so plan around this when selecting a location.
Get soil ready for planting by mixing in some yummy compost then covering with a layer of good quality top soil. Garlic will do well in loose, nutrient rich soil with good drainage. I mixed in my own compost and topped it off with SEA SOIL, which is a high quality top soil made of composed bark and fish waste.
Each clove will have a point top end were the stem and laves will grow from, and a wider, flat bottom part where the roots will form.
Dig a hole and plant the clove tip side up so that the tip is 2” below the surface.
Cover with soil and mulch to conserve moisture and nutrients over winter. A good mulch for the winter is a layer of leaves covered by a layer of cardboard. Just don’t forget to remove the cardboard in early spring so the leaves and stems can grow up through the soil.