Growing Hardneck Garlic, Part 3

Since we’re nearing the end of the garlic growing season, I’m going to start in the middle. I’ll give some highlights to catch up the season, and post more detailed information when the new season starts in the fall.

Garlic is one the easiest vegetables to grow. First, choose your garlic–softneck or hardneck. Although there are softneck varieties adapted to colder climates, it is generally for warmer zones. I have no first-hand experience with softneck, so these posts will be about hardneck garlic.

Hardneck garlic is planted in autumn. I plant around mid-October while the weather is still warm enough to get the root system started.Everything stays in the ground through the Winter and in early Spring, it will start sprouting. I give it a little fertilizer boost at that time.

If all went well, the garlic will look like this in the spring.

If all went well, the garlic will look like this in late spring. Each leaf is a wrapper around the bulb.

So here we are in late Spring, the plants have sent up a scape. When the scape makes the first curl, cut it off near the plant. Removing the scapes allows the bulbs to grow larger instead of using energy to make a flower. Don’t yank the stem out, it goes all the way down to the bottom of the bulb and can damage it. Not all of the scapes develop at the same time, so visit the garden often and cut them as they grow.

Garlic Scape

Clip the scape right where it comes out from the leaves.

Around the same time the scapes appear, the leaves will start to die back starting at the bottom. In a few weeks, when 1/3 to 1/2 the leaves are yellowed, the bulbs are ready to be lifted. More on that when it happens!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by MarriedInNJ on June 6, 2013 at 12:06 am

    wow. learned something new today.


  2. Posted by bhd on June 6, 2013 at 3:33 am

    Stupid question: “Each leaf is a wrapper around the bulb.” One bulb? Bulbs along the stem, or just one bulb? Never grew garlic. Have chives now in the courtyard. Potatoes about to be planted in the oak (plastic-lined) barrel. I’m such a novice.Send salsa!


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