Planting garlic in autumn
Do you plant your garlic in autumn? I do! In this post I will explain you my way of planting garlic in autumn. It’s pretty simple, garlic isn’t a complicated crop as long as you start the process in Autumn.
Autumn has set in thoroughly here #onthemountain . The days are getting colder and sunnier as we speak. The past few weeks the weather had an in-between period where we went from a sunny after summer to a grey pre-autumn. It’s november now and we are clearly in the midst of autumn where the weather is crispy cold but also nice and sunny. I know many of you dread this season, but it’s one of my favourite seasons I must admit. The colours all around us are beautiful. I can start wearing many layers of knitted clothing and the christmas markets are opening their doors. Perfect!
It’s also time for me to get into the garden again to dig up some dirt and make some pictures while I’m at it, all on my new rain boots. Rain boots that I don’t even need according to some permaculture experts. They say that if the soil is so wet that you have to wear rain boots, you shouldn’t be in the garden. You are probably causing more damage in the garden walking on the soil when it’s cold and wet, than when you are staying away from the garden. So you know. You don’t need gardening boots! They are fun to wear though and they get me into the right autumn gardening mood.
So back to the garden. It’s not the most perfect weather for the garden I must admit. It’s a poor sight up there in our garden. Nothing is growing and many of the leaves have fallen off the trees. Pretty much everything is outgrown and we only have a cabbages and some other leafy veggies growing. We are entering a sad season when it comes to gardening. I’ve been pulling all the healthy tomato, peppers and aubergine plants indoors to save them from the icy cold and to see if they will survive winter and give us fruits early next year. There are some super-veggies that thrive in this cold weather. One of them is garlic. Which happens to be one of my favourite ingredients in almost every dish. Yep, here it is, you got one confession out of me today already! But I am from the Balkans and I live in France, so I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Garlic apparently needs a cold season to develop a good root system and to divide into separate cloves to become a big and juicy garlic many months later. I didn’t really know that last year, so this year I didn’t manage to grow garlic like I wanted to. This year I am on time for planting my garlic before the frost, right before the soil really freezes and I can’t make any decent holes to plant the garlic.
WHERE TO GET GARLIC FOR PLANTING
I have saved different cloves from different garlics during these past few months. I just buy regular garlic from the store. I find it very difficult to find garlic that is meant for planting only, during this part of the year. In France most of the garden-garlic arrives in stores in spring. In my experience, that’s too late for planting. I’ve never grown decent sized garlic from garlic that I’ve planted in spring. I therefore just buy garlic that is meant for cooking. I also try to find both purple garlic (often a soft neck variety) and white garlic (often a hard neck variety). That’s also easier when you buy garlic that is meant for cooking. At home I use the big cloves for planting and the small ones in the centre for cooking. I do that during the month of September and October and that’s how I end up with enough garlic by November.
The garlic that I prepare for planting is stored in a dark and cool place, to prevent them from rotting and to encourage them to start sprouting. Some of them will sprout, others won’t. Or will, but much later. Pre-sprouting is not necessary, but I always try to speed up the process.
If you planned everything correctly, you will have collected enough garlic cloves for planting. You can plant garlic at any time during late October or early November on a prepared piece of land. I usually prepare my soil about two weeks ahead of planting. Garlic does like healthy and rich soil, so work towards that.
When I start planting I just make holes of about 8cm deep and I plant the garlic in those. I use a dibber or a stick, whatever I have on hand. The garlic is ideally planted in rows, so that you can easily remove weeds during the long growing season. I plant the rows about 20cm apart and the cloves within the rows about 15cm apart. If you have lots of space or not so much garlic, you can use wider spacing.
After planting the cloves, I just cover them up with soil again. I basically fill up the holes. Make sure you are planting the garlic in free draining soil though. Garlic can take the cold and frost easily (most garlic that is!), but it can only do that if it’s not residing in soaking wet soil. If you think you have very wet soil during winter, make sure not to plant the garlic too deep and definitely don’t cover the soil with mulch or something after you have planted the cloves. Let it breathe. If you live in a moderate temperature like we do, you won’t have to water the garlic until somewhere in late spring.
There is no magic in planting garlic as you can see. If you haven’t planted your garlic just yet, you still can! Then it’s just a matter of patience and waiting. And while we wait we can enjoy other fruits of our earlier labor. Gardening is like that. Planting seeds for the future and harvesting from the past.
Enjoy your weekends!
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