planting garlic in spring

conventional wisdom says that it’s best to plant garlic in the fall in northern climates like michigan.  while i’ve always planted my garlic in the fall, the fact is that you can plant it in the spring – and generally get good results, though not as high a yield.

with the knowledge that we were looking for a new place to stay, i didn’t bother planting a fall crop of garlic as i didn’t want to have to come back and dig it up.  but i also didn’t want to lose my crop of seed garlic – and the best solution seemed to be to keep it safe and sound in paper bags in the darkest coolest spot i could find in the house, and plant in the spring at our new place.

bagsogaliceven in a cool, dark spot the garlic was still wanting to get in the ground, putting up plenty of sprouts.  garlicsproutingthe previous owners of our house kindly built raised beds in the back yard.  i’m hoping that’s not because the soil tested with a high degree of contamination, but just cause they thought they would look good.  we still haven’t done soil tests – that’s still to come.  raisedbedthere are two little ones and one big raised beds.  one of the little ones seemed like the perfect place to plant at least enough garlic to use as seed garlic for the fall, even if i don’t have enough to eat.  the soil seemed high enough quality, and so i didn’t bother adding any compost or feather meal as i usually do, i mostly just wanted to get the garlic in the ground.  i’ll top dress with a little compost when i prepare other beds, in a few weeks.

garlicplantedi managed to make pretty good use of the space and get 12 rows of garlic in – two each of ohio amish, german red, bogatyr, samarkand, siberian, and georgia fire.

i can’t help but pause to stop and think about the origins of these garlics, so far away from here – such a world away – the name samarkand gives hints of garlic’s origins in central asia, samarkand being a city in uzbekistan.  i admit to being painfully ignoroant of central asia – but it seems to be the cradle to so many of our most imporatant foods – apples being an obvious one.  gary nabhan wrote the excellent book “where our food comes from” in which he retraces the footsteps of famed russian plant breeder nikolay vavilov’s explorations to collect genetic material to improve plants resilience, and help to end famines.  much of vavilov’s explorations take place in central asia, because so many of the wild predecessor of our food plants survive their.  he talks of literally forests of wild apples.  it certainly sparks the imagination.

whenever i plant seeds i spend some time thinking about my ansesters, those that went before me and saved these seeds.  i think about why these varities were imporant to them, how did these seeds connect to their culture.  i feel the need to honor them, thank them, pause and  be grateful to them that i may hold these seeds in my hands at that moment.

my little bed of garlic ends up being a miss mash of cultures – full of varties developed from around the world – but i appreciate them all, and look forward to the green sprouts emerge in a few weeks, the heads that will develop in mid summer, and the fiery hot flavors to enjoy in late summer.

i have some extra garlic that i’m not going to plant, and is sprouted too much to eat.  i’d love to share it with folks that would enjoy it.  shoot me an email if you want to get some garlic – dirtysabot (at) gmail (dot) com

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3 responses to “planting garlic in spring

  1. Hi Patrick,
    I’m so glad to hear you’re already planting at your new place! And thanks for the very interesting history/culture info.
    We’d love to plant some garlic at our Rooftop Farm Detroit project. But I’ve never tried to grow it in soilless media. Do you know if that’s possible?
    Kirsten

  2. i’m sure it’s possible to grow in soiless media, but i would expect to have to add plenty of fertility, garlic is a heavy feeder. one positive is that it doesn’t neet a ton of water.

  3. Pingback: spring grown garlic harvest | little house on the urban prairie

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