B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Plant Garlic This Fall

Although garlic is thought to have originated in Asia, it has become an integral ingredient in most every county's cuisine. Garlic is usually grown for the flavorful bulbs that grow underground, but the green tops are used much like green onions in some countries. The flowers of the garlic plant are sterile and so do not produce seed. New plants are grown from the individual sections of the bulb known as "cloves."

Garlic for planting should be purchased from a reliable garden center or mail-order catalog. Storage temperature of the dormant garlic affects the bulbing of the future plants. Temperatures above 77 F may inhibit bulb formation, so using garlic from the grocery is ill-advised for planting purposes. Garlic that has been stored at about 40 F for several months is ideal for starting a new planting.

Garlic can adapt to a wide range of soil types, but it must have a well-drained soil. Garlic can be planted in either fall or early spring. Bulb formation is optimum when days are getting longer in late spring. Generally, most gardeners find it easier to get the garlic planted in fall, since early spring soils are usually too wet for planting.

A light application of fertilizer, such as one-half pound of 12-12-12 fertilizer per 100 square feet, should be adequate for most soils. Work the fertilizer into the top 4-5 inches of soil.

Separate the cloves of your "seed" bulb just prior to planting. The larger cloves tend to yield larger bulbs down the road. Discard the small center cloves. Plant the cloves 2-3 inches deep with the tip of the clove pointing upright. Cloves that are planted upside down will generally produce poor growth or none at all.

Fall-planted garlic should mature the following July or August, as the tops begin to fall down and dry. Snip off the tops and allow the bulbs to air dry for about 1 week, out of direct sunlight. Garlic bulbs that you intend to eat can be stored for several weeks at room temperature. For longer storage, keep the bulbs cold, as close to 32 F as possible. If you want to use some of the bulbs for replanting the next crop, store them between 40 and 50 F.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox