October 30, 2012
by Jill Schatz, NW VEG Membership Coordinator
The current warm, rainy weather in our gardens is perfect for growing late fall and winter veggies, but with a few exceptions, it's too late to plant outside now with assurance you'll get a crop. However, Oct/Nov "tis the season" for planting garlic, and many nurseries still have a selection, or you can source some from a Farmers Market! Hardneck varieties are a more interesting buy than softnecks, as they tend to be more flavorful and rarely are sold in grocery stores (due to the fact they store for a shorter time.) But buy a selection from both types and it's easy to grow enough garlic in a small space to last you until the following year's harvest.
Search out the biggest firm bulbs and plant only their largest cloves; these will produce the largest bulbs! Plant in well-draining soil about 2" deep and 3" - 4" apart. It's best not to use too much (if any) fertilizer when planting as you don't want to force lush growth now, which could be damaged by winter cold. Any area you heavily composted or mulched this year, or where you grew beans or peas (which fix nitrogen in the soil), would be ideal. This fits in perfectly with veganic gardening practices, as there's enough nutrition to start roots growing well over winter, and then when top growth speeds up in the spring you can top-dress with a complete veganic fertilizer.
Not to worry if your garlic sends up green shoots later this fall, as that is perfectly normal. You can mulch lightly if you're worried about winter cold, but it's not necessary. Depending on the varieties you choose and your microclimate, your garlic will be ready to harvest when the foliage begins dying back in late June to early August. Then you have a perfect spot ready for planting any of a full line of crops for fall, winter and early spring harvests.
If you would like more information on garlic varieties, veganic gardening, or additional late fall planting options, visit the NW VEG veganic page and sign up there for our Veganic Google Discussion Group: nwveg.org/vgardening.