Planting Garlic In Fall is easy and low maintenance. Watch them emerge in early spring and enjoy a summer harvest of scapes and bulbs.
The good thing about Planting Garlic in Fall is that it is pretty much a plant it and forget it kind of deal. I don’t do anything after planting as the weather turns cold. It gets moisture from snow melt and the bulbs start sprouting in early spring. This also means that there is one less thing to plant when the weather warms up.
Spring is a busy time for any gardener growing their own food. Having some vegetables planted in the fall or very early spring in cold frames help. This also allows for an earlier and extended harvest. Our growing season here in Wyoming is short and I will do whatever possible to extend the growing season, of course, only to the best of my abilities.
When To Plant Garlic In The Fall?
The seed garlic I ordered online arrived in mid October. They were hardy, hardneck, porcelain, Music garlic with 4 to 6 cloves per bulb. I waited until the end of October before putting them into the ground together with a store bought Elephant garlic. The later is actually a kind of leek with a mild flavor.
A week later, I decided to plant some store bought softneck garlic. Most people will tell you not to grow store bought garlic but I have successfully grown them in the spring and you can see them here. I was taking a risk putting them in the ground in the fall/autumn.
I was surprised that they sprouted and grew quite well. Unfortunately, the bulbs did not formed in June and so I waited and they kind of withered. I thought I cleared out the bed but strangely, they reappeared somewhere in October and they are still there currently with frozen leaves. I will only deal with them in the spring.
Garlic scapes are a tender stem and flower bud of a hardneck garlic plant. They grow straight out of the garlic bulb and coil when ready to be harvested, typically in June and July. You do not get scapes with softneck garlic. The garlic bulbs should be ready for harvest a month after the scapes.
Note: I should have harvested the scapes a week earlier for perfectly tender scapes. I was waiting for them to coil and waited a bit too long. It was still edible but not as tender as I would like. Hopefully, I will not make the same mistake again next year.
When To Harvest Garlic?
Garlic is ready for harvest when the lower two leaves start to brown. I waited another 1½ weeks after the last picture taken on July 31 before harvesting the entire bed. All 44 cloves I planted grew and so I had 44 bulbs of garlic. The bulbs were not very big but each bulb had 4 to 5 big cloves. We went through them very quickly. I saved a quarter of the bulbs to plant this past October.
Curing The Garlic After Harvesting
After harvesting, garlic should be cured before storing. I prefer to hang them up as it takes less space and I have a spot in the greenhouse with no direct sunlight for that purpose. This also prevents any pests that may be in the barn from attacking them. I trimmed the garlic stalks and brushed off excess dirt before tying them into bunches and hanging them up.
Over time, the bunches will get a little loose as the stalks shrivel. I just tighten the strings around each bunch as the days go by. They should be cured in about 10 to 14 days. In the meantime, I love walking by this spot with the scent of garlic and lavender, also from the garden. They do look pretty hanging there. 😉
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It is Time For Planting Garlic in Fall Again
Since I have quite a few raised vegetable beds, a log book is essential for me to keep track of what was planted where so that crop rotation for each bed can be implemented effectively. I am planning for a 4 to 6 years crop rotation for each bed. For this past fall, I decided to plant garlic in the new raised vegetable beds I used to plant tomatillos and tomatoes in the spring.
This time, I ordered two varieties of softneck garlic (Nootka Rose and Transylvania) and one variety of hardneck garlic (Vietnamese). As previously mentioned, I saved 13 to 14 bulbs of the Music garlic and so I had a total of 288 cloves altogether planted in two 4 feet x 8 feet raised beds. I can’t wait to see the results next summer.