Saturday, September 10, 2016 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Plant Garlic Now for June Harvest

Now is time to plant garlic

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Q: When is the best time to plant garlic? Lynn, Tulsa
A: Most everyone likes garlic; it is easily planted and grows well here. Garlic is found in the recipes of a huge number of our favorite foods and has been used around the world for 7,000 years as a pungent seasoning.
The essentials of growing garlic are that it should be planted from mid-September through mid-October, using bulbs, and should be harvested in early June the following year. Bulbs can be planted in early spring, but fall planting with early summer harvesting produces larger and more flavorful bulbs.
There are three types of garlic — softneck, stiffneck and great-headed (elephant garlic). Softneck is best for the south and stiffneck for the north, but both do well in our area. The great-headed variety is actually not a garlic but a leek.
There are many varieties of garlic from which to select. Grocery store garlics are not good choices; they may not grow well here and are often treated to extend shelf life, which interferes with growth. The best source is from local garden centers or, for a wider variety, order from a seed company. Always try to get the largest bulbs because they produce larger bulbs at harvest time.
OSU in its fact sheet “Vegetable Varieties for Oklahoma,” suggests four varieties: Garlic German Red, Inchilium Red, Silverskin and Spanish Roja. There are many more, and often, garlic-growing enthusiasts will have multiple varieties in their gardens.
The individual cloves of garlic are the seeds. Break them apart, but leave the husks in place. They should be planted in full sun in well-drained soil generously enriched with organic matter. If you have heavy clay soil, use a raised bed and fill with good loam. Plant the bulbs 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep with the pointed end facing up. They can have their own place in the vegetable garden or they will do well planted with your flowering ornamentals.
In spring as the tops are growing, they need an inch of water per week and extra nitrogen fertilizer. Some of the new garlic tops will develop a type of flower called “scapes.” These should be removed to allow all the plant’s energy directed toward growing bulbs. These scapes have a mild garlic flavor and are edible.
In June, after the garlic tops begin to yellow, it is harvest time. Dig the bulbs with a garden fork, brush off the soil and place in a cool, dry area for a couple of weeks. After drying, the softnecks tops can be braided to hang in the kitchen as a trophy of your gardening prowess. For long-term storage, they are best kept in a cool, dry, dark place in a well-ventilated container (mesh bags are ideal), where they will keep for several months.
Plan on planting a crop this fall. Look at the varieties available and order from a seed catalog if you cannot find them locally.

Garden tips

It is time to begin to divide and replant spring-blooming perennials like iris, peonies and daylilies, if needed.

In fall, strawberry plants build up food reserves and form fruit buds for the next year’s crop. They should be fertilized between mid-August and mid-September with a nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate at a rate of 1.5 pounds per 100-foot row. Apply 1 inch of water if no rain is expected.

You have all of September to plant cool-season vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes, and until the middle of September to plant rutabagas, Swiss chard, garlic and turnips.


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