Growing Garlic In Minnesota

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Master Gardeners Dale and Judi Lauer gave an informative presentation on garlic at the library. So what do you really need to know to grow garlic in Minnesota?

  • Hardneck vs. Softneck

Hardneck varities produce a scape. Typically, hardneck varieties have 4 to 12 cloves surrounding the flower stalk and because of the hard flower stalk, are difficult to braid. Hardneck varieties do not store well and may start to form roots or dry out within a few months of harvest.

Softneck varieties, sometimes referred to as “Artichoke” varieties, do not produce a seed stalk. Each bulb generally contains between 10 and 40 cloves arranged in multiple layers somewhat like an artichoke. Softneck garlic generally has a much longer shelf life and can be stored for 6 to 8 months.

  • Soils

Garlic grows best on well-drained soils high in organic matter. The optimum soil pH for garlic is between 6 and 7. Prior to planting, soils should be well tilled to provide a loose growing bed for bulb growth. Garlic has a moderate to high demand for nitrogen.

  • Planting

Since true seeds are not produced by the garlic plant, cloves of the bulb are used for propagation. Garlic seedcloves for first time growers can be purchased as bulbs from local garlic growers or garlic seed producers for $3 to $20 per pound. Planting cloves from garlic purchased at the grocery store is not recommended.

  • Time of planting

Garlic should be planted in the fall- usually within 1 – 2 weeks after the first killing frost. Garlic shoots will emerge from the ground in late March or early April.

  • Spacing

Generally, cloves planted in double row beds 30 inches apart on center and six inch spacing within and between rows in the beds results in good bulb size and yield.

  • Mulching

After planting, rows should be covered with a 3-4 inch layer of weed seed-free straw mulch to moderate soil temperatures and minimize excessively fluctuating temperatures during winter and early spring.

  • Irrigation

Enough irrigation should be provided so that the available water holding capacity does not drop below 50 percent. The most critical stage for irrigation is during bulbing (end of May to mid-July). Irrigation should be stopped about 2 weeks before harvest.

Interested in trying garlic ice cream? Go to the Minnesota Garlic Festival on Saturday, August 13th from 10 AM- 6 PM.

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