October 1, 2009 at 8:05 a.m.
Garlic should be planted about six weeks before the ground freezes because the roots need to anchor the bulbs to give them a good start for spring. Choose an area where the plants have full sun and well drained soil. The area should not have been used to raise onions or garlic for some years because of soil-borne diseases.
The garlic bulbs are no different than gladiolus bulbs, the larger the bulb the longer the flowers. If you don't have garlic to replant, you may find someone who grows garlic or buy some at a farmer's market. Carl Rosen from the U of MN claims that you should not use garlic from grocery stores as planting stock. If you must buy garlic at the supermarket, be sure you buy the bulbs in bulk and not prepackaged.
When planting, use only the largest cloves off the bulb. Plant the blunt end down, four inches deep and six inches apart. Apply three to four inches of straw or leaves as mulch and wet it down. The mulch will help protect the roots and shoots from the cold and sudden drop in temperature.
Remove the mulch in the spring and keep plants watered and weed free. Because of their odor, insects are usually not a problem. Withhold all water once the leaves turn brown and start to dry. If you don't want the garlic to go to seed cut off the hard stems four to six weeks before harvest. This will permit energy to go into the plant for larger bulbs. Once the leaves are brown don't wait to long before harvest because the bulbs may begin to turn soft.
Don't forget our remaining fall classes at Peterson's Farm Home & Garden Store in North Branch. The classes are on Wednesday evenings from 6-7 p.m., cost is $5/class. You can register by calling the Extension Office at 651/213-8901. You can also show up and pay the night of the class, however pre-registration is helpful so we have enough handouts ready. The last class in our Fall series is on Putting Your Garden to Bed. This class will include covering trees, shrubs and perennials. The instructor is Donna Tatting, Chisago County Master Gardener.