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Spring is Not the Season for Planting Garlic

Plant garlic in the fall.

Although garden centers often offer garlic cloves (Allium sativum) for planting in the spring, it’s not the right season for planting them. Garlic needs to be treated like a tulip and planted in the fall, at least one month before the first expected hard frost.

Why then offer garlic for spring planting? Sadly, this is to take advantage of the inexperience of novice gardeners who don’t know this isn’t the right season for garlic planting. After all, you plant every other vegetable in spring, even garlic’s closest relative, the onion: it may well seem reasonable that you would plant garlic in the spring too, but that’s not the case.

Better garden centers will warn you at the checkout that it’s best to plant garlic in the fall. So if you insist on planting it in the spring, it becomes your responsibility, not theirs.

Too late?

It’s too late and you have already planted your garlic this spring?

This won’t give you cloves of an interesting size, much less garlic that can be stored. On the other hand, you can still harvest and consume the leaves (delicious!), in fact, whenever you feel like it (there is no particular season for harvesting garlic leaves). However, if you harvest your garlic’s leaves, that will be the end of it: the weakened bulb won’t grow back.

Or let the plants grow all summer and simply don’t harvest them the first fall. Instead, leave them in the ground all winter, then harvest your garlic in the autumn of following year. 15 or 16 months to grow one crop? That’s the price you pay for sowing garlic at the wrong season!

Here are more details on how to grow garlic.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

1 comment on “Spring is Not the Season for Planting Garlic

  1. Pingback: Fall Is Planting Time for Garlic – Laidback Gardener

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