Our target for planting garlic is the end of October. We hit it this year and I’m always happier when the cloves are set for their winter sprouting. Yesterday, I planted 76 saved seeds and added 38 new seeds, Lorz Italian, a softneck variety we purchased last week from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, our neighbors across the aisle at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka.
I had a bed nearly ready to go. Potatoes had been harvested from it, earlier. It was clean and shaped. Neither garlic nor any other onions had been planted there for a long time.
I used these tools to make three tall ridges in the bed. I softened the soil with my old five-tined cultivating hoe. I made deep troughs and tamped the soil with an old square hoe, which I’m guessing was originally sold as a cement hoe. And I used a steel rake to make everything smooth.
After I ridged up the bed, I planted the garlic. It likes to grow up high on the top of the ridge and I can use the rest of the bed, the slopes and the trough bottoms, to plant lettuces and other greens in the spring.
The garlic was planted along the ridges, six inches apart. I put the softneck seed in the middle row. After the cloves were planted I covered the bed using two small straw bales, fluffed up to be as loose as possible.
We can report excellent results with this method. Every year we supply ourselves with a lot of garlic. The softneck variety are supposed to be better keepers than the hardnecks which we’ve grown for many years, so we’ll see if we can develop a good Wisconsin strain from our southern bred seed.