It’s that time of year again…when you start seeing garlic planting How-Tos popping up all over Pinterest and in your news feed. That, and pumpkin…everything. Seriously, everything. But what a great time of year it is! For many, the gardening season is winding down and you’re left feeling one of two ways:
“That was fun! Let’s do it again!”
“Thank GOD. I need a nap.”
Or maybe a little bit of both? No matter the case, you gotta- I mean just GOTTA– commit to planting yourself some garlic. You will be so glad you did when you see those green shoots popping up next spring, while everything else is barren and waiting to be planted. It’s so rewarding. And sooo good.
Check out this list of garlic growers to find a farm selling certified stock near you! Ordering from someone in a similar climate will help you determine which types of garlic to grow in your own garden.
But before you run out the door and stick those cloves in the ground, let’s consider some insurance for your crop.
Let’s talk about garlic soaking.
First off, if you’ve never done this before and have had perfectly fine results with your garlic, great! I have too. But being a good gardener means remaining open minded to new ideas- even if we’ve always done something one way. And today’s idea is something that certainly won’t hurt anything, but could definitely help- and perhaps even prevent a huge disaster.
What is garlic soaking- and why should we be doing it?
Soaking your garlic cloves in a solution of water, organic fish fertilizer, and baking soda is like giving your seed a vaccination of sorts- against the various fungal diseases that can affect garlic. Additionally, it gives them a nice boost of energy to jump start the growing process. This soak is followed up by a bath of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which will sterilize the cloves and kill any mites that may be hiding- dirty little creatures that can lay their eggs, survive the winter, and wreak havoc on your precious plants next spring. Introducing any such detriments to your soil could affect that soil for years- even decades- to come.
How exactly do I do this soaking thing?
It’s pretty simple. Separate the cloves of your garlic, but don’t peel them. In a large stock pot or bucket, combine:
- 1 gallon of lukewarm water
- 1 Tablespoon of organic fish fertilizer
- 1 Tablespoon of baking soda.
Add your garlic cloves and soak for at least 15 minutes, up to several hours- but no more than 16 hours. Drain.
Then place your garlic into a container (I used quart size canning jars) and cover with either Isopropyl Alcohol 70%, Hydrogen Peroxide, or even Vodka. Soak for 20 minutes and drain. Plant within 1 hour of the second soak. (**If you’re planting more than one kind of garlic, be sure to mark them and soak them separately so you don’t get them mixed up!)
How to plant?
I like to prepare my beds with plenty of manure and compost, which I mix in with the soil by hand, loosening it down to about 6 inches. I then take a metal rake and drag it along the length of my bed to create a row that’s a few inches deep. Plant the cloves with the pointed side up, 6″ apart, and cover with a couple inches of soil. Then cover with a thick layer of mulch such as straw, hay, or leaves- to about 4″ in depth for colder regions.
You are now set up for a great garlic season next year. Proper preparation is the best prevention…and you’ve prepared well.
Now get out there and get that garlic in the ground! And take care of yourself too.
See you soon.