24 January 2009

question about garlic

I never get around to planting garlic in the fall, because there are so many other chores to attend to, and I always forget to order bulbs in the first place, and then when I DO think about ordering bulbs I always forget which sort I should order: hard- or soft-neck. So much agony.

All that aside, I know that garlic needs to be planted in the fall because it needs cold in order to grow well, but would it be possible to mimic that chilling by refrigerating the bulbs before planting them? Or potting them up, refrigerating the pots, and then planting them out after the ground thaws? (It’s not as if I have a lot of extra room in my refrigerator, but I wonder . . .)

A very important question for late on a Saturday night.


  1. Anonymous1:55 AM

    Me too! When I see them in other gardens, I wish I had planted them. I like the header. As always--love the barn!

  2. Yes, I think it is more than possible and realistic. The only thing is that usually the garlic begins growing in the fall (at least down here) so it gets a head start in the spring. I would think that in NY you could plant them out as soon as the soil is workable and leave them in a bit longer. I bet they'd grow. Dan at Urban Veggie Plot lives in upstate NY and grows garlic. You might ask him. He is very good.

  3. The important thing is that the garlic has a period of cold (preferably frosts) for a few days, so if you'll still get this outside, then it's OK to plant your garlic now. I don't plant my garlic in autumn as I garden on a wet, clay soil so the cloves would rot if I planted them then, so mine usually gets planted in February.

    2 years ago, I planted my garlic as usual, but we had an unusually mild winter and my garlic didn't get the cold weather treatment it needed to encourage clove formation in the bulbs. Instead I got 1 large clove per bulb at harvest time.

    So last year I did an experiment. Half were planted outside in pots and half stayed inside. On the nights when frosts were predicted the inside bulbs were put in the fridge to simulate the frosts the outside pots were experiencing. I then planted both outside and inside treated garlic in March in their permanent growing position. Both lots of garic grew well and I had a decent crop.

    Hope that gives you the answer you were seeking!

  4. FGG, we have some good advice here. I'll try it if you do!

    Tina, thanks so much for the tip on Dan. I'll pop a message over to him.

    VP, I'm thinking of putting the garlic in my cellar (which is a pretty constant 40°, so it just might be cold enough). I was even thinking of potting it up and putting it on the fire escape here in the city, or just leaving it outside upstate. If and when it sprouts, I can plant it out. Experiment, experiment!

    Thank you both for your advice!

  5. I've actually been doing a bit of research about garlic (among other plants) since I want to plant some in my future garden. All of the infomation I have seen says it can be planted in the fall, but it's not neccessary. I plan on planting some as soon as my ground is workable and I'll just hope for the best.

  6. good info! Thanks for asking the question Jared, so I could learn the answer too!

    My mom grows a lot of garlic, and I saved some it for planting now that I finally have a veggie bed again. I did just barely manage to get it planted in the fall (very. late. fall,) but I wondered if I would still have been able to plant it in the spring.

  7. Cinj and garden girl, we'll have to compare notes this summer. I AM going to plant some.

  8. Plant it in the spring. Garlic really wants to grow. There's a holiday we celebrate . Let's see I think it's for someone Italian. Right it's Colombus Day. That's just about the right time to plant garlic in upstate NY and it's already on the calender. Ed is a garlic nut. If you search garlic on my blog you will discover that.