I am growing garlic for the first time. I need some help determining the correct spacing for the Music garlic that I bought. What works best? 4 inches? 6 inches?
Music can be a rather large bulb - I plant mine at 6" spacing in rows 12" apart to give them every opportunity to grow large. If you are tight on space, you can drop to 5" or 4" but you may get slightly smaller bulbs. If you do drop the spacing, I suggest you stagger them within adjacent rows to maximize the distance from other bulbs.
If possible, work some well rotted organics into the soil before planting, set them out between October 15th and November 15th, and cover them with 3-4" of mulch. Give them a nitrogen feed when they emerge from the mulch in March, and another in mid May. Harvest when about half of the leaves are yellow. Music is a lovely garlic!
Thanks for all the great information. I'll have to write all that down. Could you tell me approximately how tall the entire plant gets?
Music is taller than most garlic - mine were all 3-4 feet tall this past year.
They will put up scapes in early June. When the scapes are about 1' long, snap them off to get larger bulbs. The scapes are great eating! Most people stir fry them, but I put them in a plastic supermarket bag, add some extra virgin olive oil, salt, and a dash of curry powder, shake well and toss on the grill until they are about 1/3 brown. WOW!
i plant music 6" on center in 4' X 4' plot. tom is correct about the mulch but he forgot to say don't do it until the ground freezes.
Why wait until the ground freezes? I plant mine in mid November, cover the bed with mulch, and just forget them until the Spring feeding.
I must agree with WC on this one. the mulch layer is to conserve some of the heat that's in the soil, improve moisture retention and generally protect them from freezing/drying out during the winter.
i read that you don't mulch until the ground has frozen. i think this is because if you mulch immediately it could hold moisture (?) but i think the real reason is that without the mulch the ground will freeze sooner and then mulching will help keep it frozen should it warm a bit. mulching immediately would insulate the ground and prolong the freezing thereby allowing the sprout to emerge when it should not. now i have had 6" tall plants when the gound did not freeze until 12/10 or there about which is very late. they died back once the real cold came and were none the worse for the premature growth.
if mulching immediately works for you then do it. i prefer to wait for after thanksgiving as the ground usually freezes about that week but as noted sometimes i have to wait until the 1st week in december.
In all my garlic studying I never came across a recommendation to wait until the ground freezes before mulching. In fact just the opposite - mulch immediately. If the ground freezes before a good root system is established, the ground can heave and push the cloves up and even out. You can avoid this by planting earlier, but then you get a lot of top growth which can be subject to winter damage.
I plant in mid-November here in central NJ and mulch immediately. This keeps the ground warm enough to grow a good root system before the ground freezes, but any top growth stops before emerging from the mulch. I've been getting a 100% stand and winter survival this way, although I'm sure other ways work as well.
Hey TomNJ, I'm also in Central NJ but a bit further north - zone 6. I was planning to plant today - should I wait a week or more?
I think you should wait. We are having some warmer than average temperatures this week. That may stimulate the garlic into producing top growth when you really want it to focus on its roots. I had read somewhere that you should plant garlic when the night temperatures are consistently between 40 and 50 degrees. I'm in zone 6 also. I'm planning on planting somewhere between Halloween until mid-November. Whenever the night temps. drop a bit more. I must admit though that my knowledge on the subject is from a lot of reading, not growing. I'm about to plant garlic for the first time...
I just wanted to reword what I said about the warm temperatures. I don't think it came across correctly. You want to give the garlic enough time to develop roots, but not so much time that it produces a lot of top growth before the ground freezes. Typically that would mean planting 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes.
I have to chime in here, Pat, This abnormal cold weather here (zone 6, Wa) is causing me to be concerned about the ground temps. it's 18 degrees out this morning and won't get much about 55 for a high today. I planted 406 Georgian Chystal yesterday and the soil was getting pretty darn cold even in the afternoon, this tells me it's time to get busy. I've been planting for a week now and have 3,400 in the ground so far. I'm glad I started when I did since I have another 5,000 to get in.
Tjg911, I don't understand the concept of waiting to insulate the ground, Maybe I missed the memo but the purpose of doing that is to "insulate" the young plants from the cold as much as possible not to keep the soil frozen. You wait to plant so there won't be much top growth but also want to get it in early enough so the roots have a month or 6 weeks to grow so the plant can feed itself over winter.
I have seen Elephant plants get freeze dried because of no insulation, frozen ground and some cold wind killed them. No they weren't mine. I have never had winter kill and it hits 0 to -10 degrees here for at least a week every winter.
mulching is supposed to insulate the cloves from being heaved during freeze/thaw periods especially if there is no snow cover at that time. seems this is from early december to mid march here in nw ct.
tomnj, i'm going to check my garlic papers from jss and og mag and countryside and small stock journal.....
ok per og sept/oct 1993 they speak out of both sides of their mouth. they say in 1 place someone mulches immediately after planting and on the same page they say mulch is applied soon after planting. either way do it soon after planting not after the ground is frozen. hum....
ok, per johnny's selected seeds garlic planting suggestions (apparently i bought garlic from them in 1996?), they say mulch "after the soil has frozen or in late fall". they say to plant from 1st frost to as late as november. so that's where i got it in my head to mulch after the soil is frozen. but jss is in mid maine and they sell garlic to many areas. is the sheet different for say the carolinas? not sure.
jss catalog says only "garlic is very winter hardy but should be heavily mulched to prevent heaving". no mention when to mulch!
terriorial seed company catlog does not mention mulching.
from rodale's garden problem solver "plant cloves in september, mulching the garlic beds with straw to prevent repeated freezes and thaws from heaving the bulbs".
well for the past 3 years that i have planted garlic i always mulched in late november or early december when the ground is so frozen i can walk on it and not break thru the soil with no problems. apparently it does not seem to matter.
personally i'd rather mulch immediately after planting as it finishes the job vs doing it 5-6 weeks later when it is 29 degrees and the wind is blowing! so thanks! i will now mulch immediately.
I am in Sayreville, not far from the bay. I tried planting in mid-October and had a foot of top growth with some winter damage. When I planted at the end of October the top growth was about 6-8" above the mulch and less damage occurred. I settled on mid-November because the top growth stays below the mulch and there is still plenty of time for root development.
If you are at a higher altitude, e.g. northwest NJ, then late October would be fine. Otherwise a little later may be better, although there is a lot of latitude. So long as the top growth isn't damaged over winter you are okay.
I have both mulched and not mulched over the years. The ground here never remains frozen very long in winter. It freezes only a couple weeks at a time and we rarely have snow cover for more than a week at a time. Anyway I never have had any garlic heave out if unmulched (or any other plant).
I do mulch though. I noticed that mulching greatly reduces weeds and prevents erosion. Mulching will also help protect any winter growth. If I notice any green poking through and temperatures will be dropping I try to lightly cover the green. This seems to prevent damage.
The original question concerned spacing.I space approx.8"x8".Now for a great tip;get a 3-4'length of plastic culvert pipe any dia.you can get for free or about 12"-16" dia.lay out at 8" or as close to that as possible or your own personal preference.Self tapping bolts 1/4"x2"plus install leaving about 1&1/2" above surface of pipe.Now roll pipe along length of bed and your marking is easy to see and uniform.First rototill well and level/smooth with the flip side of a landscape rake.When you are doing thousands it saves a lot of time and keeps it easier for whatever steps follow.
i made a planting guide for garlic and onions.
i ripped a 2 x 4 5' long in half lengthwise. i marked 1 5' piece on 2 sides every 6 inches, i plant 6" on center. i then cut the other 5' piece to 24" long. i marked it on 2 sides every 6". i put the 5' piece down the center of the 4' wide bed. i place the 24" board at the 1st 6" mark perpendicular to the 5' piece. i use a hand made dibble to make a 4" deep hole at each 6" mark on the 24" piece. i slide the 24" piece to the next 6" mark on the 5' piece and do the same doing this to the end of the bed. this plants 1 side of the 4' wide bed. i then move the 5' piece over the width of the board (towards the planted side) and reposition the 24" piece and start planting the other side of the bed.
you could use 6" concrete re enforcing wire also as a guide but getting it to sit flat is a pain.
Music garlic is the only one I now grow - 400 - 500 plants a year. It best serves my personal purposes and I have a small but faithful clientele at the market. Four inch spacing is the minimum - less than that, they're definitely stunted. Beyond 6" it makes no difference. Not surprisingly, I shoot for 5 inches.
Re mulch, I try to mulch them asap in the fall after I plant them, usually end - Sept. I use two inches of grass clippings mixed with chopped leaves. My big issue here in the high desert environment, over the winter, is the soil drying out - anything I can do to retain moisture, I do. We're talking 7,000 feet, avg 13" of moisture a year (if we're lucky) SW facing slope, and boy, does that wind blow in the spring. There is rarely any snow cover that lasts more than a few days.
I usually weed the beds once in the early spring, then add another layer of mulch, this time for weed suppression.
I also snip the scapes just as soon as I can get the clippers under the swelling. My growing season runs end Sept - first week in July.
Over the years, i have heard people say that mulch should not be put down until after ground freezes because mice will make homes under it if you put it down before they have made their winter accomodations. i have not found that to be a problem and i mulch all year round, like ruth stout. just my experience...