•Once you receive your garlic, open box immediately and take garlic out. Give the bulbs space to breathe. Store in a cool area (~55 degrees) in the dark until planting.
•Ideal planting times are different according to which zone you live in. Mid-October works great for zone 5/6, but check with your local extension agent for advice on planting in the North or South.
•Each garlic bulb contains around 8 cloves. Each clove planted will become its own bulb when you harvest in next year.
•When you are ready to plant, shuck the garlic. This hardneck garlic can be difficult to break apart, so we use a dull butter knife to aide in the initial loosening. We are careful not to cut into the garlic cloves. You do not need to pull the papery skin off of each clove.
•Choose a plot to plant that has loosened, tilthy soil. Garlic grows best in a well-balanced soil. At our farm, we choose an area that we’ve had under a summer cover crop. Two weeks before planting, we incorporate manure into the plot and work the ground to give the cover crop time to break down. The week we are going to plant, we work the soil for the last time. Then, we lay plastic mulch. (This may not be necessary in most areas. In mid-Ohio there is an over-wintering weed that makes spring weeding especially difficult. We have found plastic mulch to be very helpful for weed suppression in the spring. If you choose to use plastic mulch, make sure your plastic is tight to the bed so that it doesn’t shift and cover up your garlic plant.)
•We plant our garlic 2” deep, with the pointy end up.
•The garlic plant usually reaches the surface by mid-November and is somewhere between 2-4 inches high throughout the winter. It is a hardy garlic and is fine exposed to the elements as low as -10 degrees. Many in colder areas cover their crop with straw.
•Keep your garlic beds well weeded for biggest bulb growth. Plants do not like to compete with weeds.
•Hard-neck varieties produce a scape mid-spring, which is a flower stalk that grows in the middle of the plant. It has a swan-shaped head. When it curls, snap it off. For culinary purposes, scapes are sought-after for their delicate garlic taste, wonderful in soups or sautéed. But, equally importantly for your garlic, removing the scape allows the plant to put its energy into bulb growth to reach maximum size potential.
Harvest and cure
•Harvest garlic once your plant leaves have browned about half to two-thirds of the way back. Since we plant in plastic mulch, our garlic is finished a week or two ahead of garlic without mulch. We usually pull the scapes between May 30-June 4th and harvest garlic between June 10-20.
•After harvest, you will need to cure your garlic for long-term storage (though you can eat fresh garlic too. It has more moisture and a stronger flavor). We lay our garlic out on meshed tables so that air flow can reach all of the garlic bulb.
•After 2 weeks of curing, cut back the garlic stem and store in a 55 degree dark room until planting.