In the Garden:
Middle South
November, 2001
Regional Report

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Planting big garlic cloves is a great way to close out a delicious season in the vegetable garden.

Grow Some Garlic

The gardening year is never quite complete until you stick a few garlic cloves in the ground. Planted in well chilled soil, garlic cloves grow roots over the winter and then produce greens in spring, followed by crisp, juicy bulbs in early summer.

Best Cloves for Planting

If you want big, strong plants, begin with big, fat cloves. The large outer cloves from bulbs bought at the grocery store work fine. Save the smaller inner cloves for cooking.

Plant garlic in loose, fertile, well drained soil. I plant mine in raised beds or rows, so that the plants never get soggy feet in wet winter weather. After digging the soil deeply and shaping a raised row, set the cloves 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart, with their pointed ends up. Then mulch over the site with at least 3 inches of chopped leaves, weathered straw, or another organic mulch. The mulch will keep the soil consistently cool, and in spring the garlic shoots will push up right through it.

In early summer, carefully dig your garlic when the plants begin to fail. Then let the bulbs dry in warm shade for a few days, and they're ready for long-term storage.

Growing Garlic Greens

You also can grow garlic for its tender green shoots, which make a nice change of pace from chives or scallions. However, snipping greens from plants you expect to produce big bulbs isn't really fair, so you might want to plant a few cloves just for greens. Medium or small cloves are fine for this job, and you can plant them close together when growing garlic for greens rather than bulbs. I like to plant a cluster of little cloves in a group, only 1 inch apart, in my herb garden. The greens are best in spring, when they are young and tender.


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