September 30, 2010 at 9:21 a.m.
It's probably too late in the season for a soil test if you plan on planting garlic this fall. Garlic is like most garden crops in that it grows best in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. The ideal PH for garlic is between six and seven. If the PH is less than five point eight, it is recommended that you apply lime.
Prior to planting, soils should be well tilled to provide a loose growing bed for bulb growth.
Time of planting is critical for both shoots and bulb development. Garlic in Minnesota should be planted in the fall within one to two weeks after the first killing frost. In northern Minnesota, planting during the third and fourth week in September is recommended, while in southern Minnesota, planting around the second week in October is best. Roots should be developing and shoots should be coming through the clove, but not above the soil, at the time of the first hard freeze (28 degrees).
Garlic shoots will emerge from the ground in late March or early April. Unless given the proper cold treatment prior to planting, garlic planted in the spring will often produce weak shoots and poorly developed bulbs.
Garlic roots and shoots can tolerate freezing conditions provided that sudden drops in temperatures do not occur within three to five weeks after planting, and rows should be covered with a three to four inch layer of weed and seed-free mulch. This will moderate soil temperatures and minimize excessively fluctuating temperatures in the winter and early spring. The mulch will also help control weeds during the growing season.
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