Why not plant garlic in Aug/Sept?

rhubarb_stalker(Z5b Western MA)August 26, 2010

What are the disadvantages, if any, of planting garlic in August or September instead of following the conventional wisom of planting it in October?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bloosquall(Wa 6)

The reason is you don't want the plant part getting too big in the fall. if you have a foot tall palnt with 4 leaves on it the cold winter you have will kill off the plant and it'll just have to grow that part back again next spring.

You want the clove to make a root system and maybe a couple leaves in the fall..this will be protected by the straw mulch you cover the row with.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course, if you harvest late and miss a few cloves, you will find those "accidentally planted" garlics the next season, doing just fine.

I think we make gardening too difficult for ourselves. Garlic is harder to kill than we give credit for. If you aren't going to have time in October, I'd say plant some in August and September. Bet you won't notice any difference from those planted at the "right" time.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It may not emerge until cool weather comes on, in which case it would just be taking up space. Usually august/sept is one of the most crowded times of gardening, all the tomatoes, peppers, some squash, ect, are still out. Generally all the summer stuff is done by late Sept, and you can follow them with garlic. If you have free space now, a better plan might be to plant fall crops like brassicas and lettuce.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
david52 Zone 6

I've been meaning to ask this question as well - I seem to have the best results if I can get them planted in September, and they'll have 3 or so inches of top growth before hard freezes set in. Even with snow cover, these tops never actually die off, they just sorta sit there with burned tips, but they take right off in the spring.

But isn't this more a function of soil temperatures? Too warm, the cloves just sit there, and if the soil is around 40ºF, they start to grow?

I live at altitude with a short growing season, our first frost is usually Sept 15th-ish. Currently, our night time temps are hovering around the 45ºF mark, and the soil temps can't be that far behind.

If I plant the cloves 3-4" deep and come by 10 days later, in October, I'll see top growth poking through. So wouldn't this be part of the natural cycle?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Because of persistent rain that kept me from pulling my garlic, I'm not going to have the usual large cloves to plant this fall. Since I'm planting such small cloves, I may not harvest them next year. I have grown garlic from the litttle bubils(?) on the stems of hardneck garlic, but it took about 3 years for them to mature. Can you think of any reason, except insufficient space, for not planting these now?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Robbytherat, I think you will find that if you don't dig them one year, thinking that they will get bigger if left in the ground an additional year, that you may be very surprised to find that they have gotten even smaller. Garlic if not dug, divided and replanted every year becomes ''grassy" and reverts to nothing but leaves with tiny bulbils in a massive clump. I have already found old garlic in neglected gardens and dug, divided and replanted for several years to get the bulbs back up to a desirable size. Plant the largest cloves of your current harvest and hope for the best next year! Good luck.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 5:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

RobbytheRat- You definitely don't want to leave the garlic in the ground next year. If you want bigger garlic you have to dig them up and replant individual cloves, if you leave whole heads in the ground they will grow as described by Steve. A picture for proof:

This is hardneck garlic that I let naturalize by leaving the whole head in the ground, it has tiny bulbs now (that's a quarter in the pic for reference).


    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

RobbytheRat - if you want to give your small cloves and/or bulbils a head start, you might want to try planting them in spring which tends to produce rounds because they've not been chilled. Be generous with their spacing to give them room to grow and remember to water them regularly and or their growth will be checked. Some of the rounds that I've harvested from small cloves and second year bulbils have been almost 1" diameter.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It may not emerge until cool weather comes on, in which case it would just be taking up space.

That is the most logical thing that promethean said. Something that I had never thought about.
You go ahead and plant garlic in the middle of summer; It will not sprout.

Garlics ( or any allium buls) will need a real cool weather to start sprouting. That is why you should never store your garlics in the frig.

Another point is the concept of overwintering it,( like winter wheat). So that it will have a head start in the spring, where a very hot season will come real quickly. Therefore, in the northern climates that you have a long cool spring(into mid July) or cool summer afterwards, you can just plant garlics early spring as soon as the ground is thawed. BECAUSE THEY LIKE COOLER AIR AND SOIL and will have enough time to bulb.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 5:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oddly enough, I've usually seen the bigger bulbs come off the beds that I plant very early, and they hardneck varieties have foliage usually hardy enough to handle the cold winters.

If the cold is a problem, adding more snow on top, or tarping them works too.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

" You go ahead and plant garlic in the middle of summer; It will not sprout."

The 6 purple strips I planted in my asparagus bed would have to say that's just not true. I purchased several pounds from a man in Florida on Ebay. I planted them tail end of July. I had bought enough that I wanted to make sure the rest would sprout come fall. So I planted 6 small gloves and I have 6 plants that are doing very well other than they will freeze back this winter. The rest will be planted mid October here. I'm just saying that garlic will sprout in the hot summer months.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

@ Old Thompson .... I thought garlics require cooler weather to sprout. Isn't it the reason why if you leave some garlics behind, they will sprout next year ? Maybe old garlic seeds sprout any time ???

Anyway, two days ago I planted some garlics myself, after seeing Mark (madroneb, in Oregon) planted his. I planted about 55 cloves. This is the first time I am doing it here at PNW area.
In Atlanta, GA, I used to plant them around mid October on. And did very well. We will see hoe it goes here.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 7:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not all garlic seems to need a chilling to sprout. I grow Early Italian Purple, a soft neck, at the bottom of the PNW area (extreme Northern California) and they come up soon after planting regardless of when or the conditions that exist at that time. The Korean Red and Music varieties come up without much cold weather, as well.

Water is another thing. Even here where we get a good amount of rain I have to water them in good to get them started

Just finished planting most of my garlic. Have some summer vegetables in places where I will plant the variety which wants to be chilled (German Extra Hardy) so will wait a week or so to put them in.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

still -kris ... good info. Thanks. So I will water mine then, though it rained some yesterday.
The way I have heard, winters here is often mild. Very rarely temps go down to low 20s. But then, we get misty rain till June. That is why I am doing in raised beds. At least water does not accumulate.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

still-kris, that is good info and you probably hit the nail on the head. Different varieties evidently vary on whether they require cooler weather to sprout or not.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 3:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just to respond to the planting of entire bulbs, I think it is a viable option because I've done it with pretty good success. I do separate most of my bulbs to individual cloves for most of my garlic beds, but sometimes I will get lazy, and just put the whole bulb in.

The key to making this work is to make sure that you have adequate spacing, at least 1ft apart, fertilize them, mulch them, and make sure the weeds don't take them over. A balanced 10-10-10 slow release fertilizer will get them growing faster in the spring, and one crucial step is to remove the scapes as they appear.

You should still get decent sized bulbs about 60% the size of the ones from individual cloves. Now if we were to leave these in another year, then the root & bulb competition just wouldn't give enough space for good bulb formation.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 12:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Seysonn mentioned "winter wheat" in a reply which made me think that the reason you don't plant winter wheat earlier is because of the Hession Fly. Possibly the earlier garlic plantings might be more subject to Garlic Bloat Nematode or even Thrip infestations which could expand in warmer temps and affect the crop the following year. I have no hard evidence but these are pests that you don't want to allow to infect your crop.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 9:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My main reason for waiting until the latest possible date for planting is that I don't want the tops to get too tall just to get frozen back, and waste the clove's energy.

Planting in early December when the ground should still unfrozen appears to be the ideal time in upstate NY because the snow will keep the soil unfrozen allowing roots to still sink in. I also believe that having them in the ground too long may cause too much vernalization resulting in more, but small er cloves in the bulb so I just don't see a reason of getting them in earlier.

Here's how big I like to see the tops get. This photo was taken 1 week ago during a thaw. There are usually a few thaws throughout the winter which will be enough to allow them to really settle in and be primed to take off in the spring.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 2:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

@ stevelau ...I don't know how cold it gets where you are. But I have planted garlic both in GA and WA (zone 7b) and the winter lows got down to mid teens and my garlic tops were not affected. I recon that way up north you have much harsher winters that is why you don't want your sprout to grow too much.
This past December our lows got down to about 12F for about four days. My garlic tops were already 5 to 6 inches tall and lived.

The bottom line is that whatever works in your climate that is all it matters.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When it gets closer to 0F, the garlic tops will fry if the garlic leaves are above the snow line so I prefer to have them barely out of the ground through the winter.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 10:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a member of the Allium family, which includes both Tulips and Daffodils, which are winter/spring flowers, it stands to reason that Garlic be planted in the Autumn for best results.
I,ve grown Garlic in Ireland for over 12 years, and always plant from October to end of November. Roots get settled in before any hard frosts and are ready for growth surge in spring which directs energy into plant developement. This gives better and bigger bulbs by harvest time.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:44PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?
I have grown them on and off over the years. IMHO They...
wertach zone 7-B SC
Garlic powder as squirrel repellent?
I finally got my garlic planted yesterday and along...
Do you soak your garlic before planting?
Was wonering how many do the overnight soak treatment...
why are my shallots soo small
I planted really nice sized shallots last fall. I would...
Kelsae starts
I have done lots of research but am curious to when...
SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC
Sponsored Products
Cambridge Tall Planter
Grandin Road
Lush Life Throw Pillow
| Dot & Bo
Star Succulent in Round Woven Planter Christmas Decor
$349.00 | FRONTGATE
Red Carpet Studios Nature In Flight Spinner - 32071
$35.39 | Hayneedle
Hang Pot - White - Wallter
$125.00 | HORNE
Home Decorators Indoor/Outdoor Accent Rug: Home Decorators Collection Rugs
Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™