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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Planting Garlic in Spring

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Planting garlic in spring is an option for those who did not plant last fall or autumn. To plant hardneck garlic in the spring, you will need to start with good-quality cloves. You can buy cloves from a nursery or garden center, or you can save your own from last year's crop. If you are saving your own cloves, make sure to choose the largest and healthiest cloves to plant.


Once you have your cloves, you will need to prepare the soil. Hardneck garlic needs well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. If your soil is not well-drained. You can also add compost or manure to the soil to improve fertility.


Once the soil is prepared, you can plant the cloves. Plant the cloves about 2-3 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. Be sure to plant the cloves with the pointed end up. After planting, water the cloves well.


Hardneck garlic needs about 8+ hours of sunlight per day. Don't plant garlic in the shade. It is also important to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Water the garlic regularly, especially during dry periods.


Hardneck garlic is usually ready to harvest in the summer. The lower leaves of the plant will start to turn yellow, and the bulbs will be firm. To harvest, dig up the garlic bulbs and remove the leaves. Try not to pull them from the soil, as this can damage the bulb and individual cloves. You can store the garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place for several months.


Here are some additional tips for planting hardneck garlic in the spring:


Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sun.

The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter.

Plant the cloves about 2-3 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart.

Be sure to plant the cloves with the pointed end up.

Water the cloves well after planting.

Keep the soil moist, but not wet.

Garlic is usually ready to harvest in the summer.

You can store the garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place for several months.


Garlic planted in spring will likely not be as large as garlic planted in the fall. This is because garlic needs to go through a process called vernalization in order to form bulbs. Vernalization is a period of cold weather that triggers the garlic to start growing. If garlic is planted in the spring, it will not have enough time to go through vernalization and will therefore produce smaller bulbs.


It is best to plant garlic in the fall.



At our GROeat Garlic Farm in Montana, we plant hardneck garlic cloves in the fall, just before Halloween. The cloves are placed in the soil about three inches deep, pointy side up. The garlic cloves, nestled in the soil, are exposed to five or more months of very cold conditions. This exposure to cold is called vernalization and is a very important part of the hardneck garlic's growth cycle.


If you missed the opportunity to plant hardneck garlic in the fall, can you plant garlic in the spring? Yes, you can plant hardneck garlic in early spring. If you are reading this article in the winter or in the early spring, now is the time to prepare for planting. Keep in mind that spring-planted garlic will likely be smaller than its overwintered counterparts. Though, some gardeners have planted hardneck garlic in early March, and couldn’t tell the difference from fall-planted garlic.


PRO TIP: Plant the garlic cloves (seed garlic) as soon as the ground is no longer frozen. When the warmer conditions begin to thaw the soil in spring, garlic cloves (seed garlic) establish a root structure and will start putting on fresh growth.


Another option for garlic planted in the spring is to harvest it as spring garlic, otherwise known as green garlic. Instead of waiting until the end of the summer, harvest the spring-planted garlic after the long, tender shoots emerge and tiny white bulb that looks almost like scallions.


Begin by purchasing hardneck garlic bulbs or individual cloves now (if you can find them). Look for seed garlic from a garlic farm such as GROEat Farm. In the spring, it can be more difficult to find seed garlic for planting, especially if you’re seeking a specific variety.


After receiving your seed garlic, remove it from any packaging and store the garlic is a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Ideally, the air temperature should be between freezing (32 °F ) and around 50 °F. Store the garlic in this cold environment for at least four or six weeks, longer is better. Why? Spring-planted garlic needs a cold treatment called vernalization. This exposure to cold signals the plant to form bulbs during the growing season. When we plant garlic in the fall, vernalization is natural over the winter. Garlic planted in the spring may not receive enough natural exposure to cold temperatures. If vernalization doesn’t occur, the cloves often form rounds, which look like a ping pong ball. A round is a single large garlic clove instead of a bulb with multiple cloves. Yes, you can still harvest and eat garlic rounds, though the overall harvest is diminished.


There are two simple approaches to exposing garlic to cold conditions. First, ask the garlic farm if they have already exposed the garlic to cold conditions. This is a simple question. This is your best option! Another option is to place the seed stock in a refrigerator for six to eight weeks. A brown paper bag works well for storage. Don't use a plastic bag, as it can promote mold growth. Write today's date on the bag. Keep the garlic away from off-gassing fruit. Check the garlic weekly to ensure there isn’t mold forming. If you see sprouting or roots forming, plant the cloves right away. Plant as early as possible. If your region experiences a warm spell, and you can gain access to your thawed soil, get out and plant your garlic. Even if it is early spring.


PRO TIP: The secret to growing nice-sized garlic bulbs from spring-planted garlic is getting the cloves in the ground as early as possible, as soon as the soil is workable, and before April.


If you want large garlic bulbs, be sure to plant the cloves in your garden as soon as the ground is workable. It may seem very early to be planting outdoors. Garlic is cold hardy and requires a chilling period. Take advantage of a February, March, or April thaw to plant the garlic cloves in soil. That way the garlic has four to six or more weeks of cold which should be enough to initiate bulb formation. Spring-planted garlic needs a couple of extra weeks to catch up and is harvested in mid to late summer. And that is just fine. At our GROeat Farm in Montana, we harvest fall-planted garlic around the end of July. You could certainly wait an extra week or two to harvest the spring-planted garlic. Wait for the bottom three leaves to brown and wilt to the ground.


Planting Garlic in the Spring

Garlic is a popular vegetable that can be grown in many different climates. It is typically planted in the fall, but it can also be planted in the spring. There are also a few disadvantages to planting garlic in the spring:

  • The garlic bulbs may not be as large. Garlic bulbs that are planted in the fall tend to be larger than those that are planted in the spring.

  • The garlic may not be as flavorful. Garlic that is planted in the fall tends to be more flavorful than that which is planted in the spring.

Overall, planting garlic in the spring is a good option if you live in a warm climate or if you want to harvest garlic sooner. However, if you live in a cold climate or if you want to grow the largest and most flavorful garlic bulbs, then planting in the fall is the better option.


How to Plant Garlic in the Spring

To plant garlic in the spring, you will need to:

  1. Prepare the soil. The soil should be well-drained and amended with compost or manure.

  2. Plant the cloves. The cloves should be planted 4-6 inches deep and 6 inches apart.

  3. Water the cloves. The cloves should be watered well after planting.

  4. Mulch the cloves. A layer of mulch around the cloves will help to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Care for Garlic in the Spring

Garlic in the spring should be watered regularly, especially during dry periods. The mulch around the cloves should be kept moist. The garlic should also be fertilized regularly with a balanced fertilizer.


In summary, Yes, you can plant garlic in early spring. Likely spring-planted bulbs don’t always size up the fall-planted garlic bulbs. Harvest the spring-planted garlic a few weeks later than the fall-planted garlic. Regardless of fall-planted or spring-planted garlic, you will need to fertilize the growing plants, plant into nutrient-rich soil, provide adequate hydration, but not too much, and keep the weeds away from the growing garlic. Plan to select the largest cloves from the fall-harvested bulbs and plant those in the fall 4-7 weeks after harvesting. The fall planting should grow into great garlic for a harvest next summer.


Green Garlic

Green garlic is another reason why some gardners grow garlic. Sure, the bulbs and cloves harvested in the fall are precious, though so are the young, tenger shoots of the garlic plant, come spring. Right around June, adding a just-dug freshness to our kitchen is a welcome ingredient. Garlic is typically planted in the fall, though if you plant garlic in the spring, you can also harvest Green Garlic.

Green garlic is a young garlic plant that is harvested before the bulbs have a chance to fully develop. It has a mild, garlicky flavor that is perfect for adding a touch of flavor to dishes without being overpowering. Green garlic can be used in a variety of ways, both raw and cooked.


How to Harvest Green Garlic

Green garlic is best harvested when the leaves are about 6 inches long and the bulbs are about the size of a golf ball. To harvest, simply dig up the plant with a garden fork or shovel. Be sure to leave some of the roots attached so that the plant can regrow.


How to Use Green Garlic

Green garlic can be used in a variety of ways, both raw and cooked. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sautéed green garlic: This is a classic way to enjoy green garlic. Simply sauté the leaves and bulbs in olive oil until they are tender.

  • Green garlic pesto: This is a delicious and versatile pesto that can be used on pasta, pizza, or sandwiches. To make green garlic pesto, simply combine the leaves and bulbs of green garlic with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.

  • Green garlic soup: This is a hearty and flavorful soup that is perfect for a cold winter day. To make green garlic soup, simply sauté the leaves and bulbs of green garlic in olive oil. Then, add chicken or vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, then puree the soup until smooth.

  • Green garlic salad: This is a simple and refreshing salad that is perfect for a spring or summer meal. To make green garlic salad, simply combine the leaves and bulbs of green garlic with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. Dress with a simple vinaigrette.

Storage

Green garlic can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To store, simply wrap the leaves and bulbs in a damp paper towel and place them in a paper bag.


Benefits of Green Garlic

Green garlic is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of fiber and manganese. Green garlic has been shown to have a number of health benefits. Green garlic is a versatile and delicious vegetable that can be used in a variety of ways. It is a good source of nutrients and has a number of health benefits. If you can find it, I encourage you to give green garlic a try.


Conclusion


If garlic is planted in the spring, it will likely produce a smaller bulb than if it was planted in the fall. This is because garlic needs to go through a period of cold weather in order to form a bulb. The cold weather triggers a process called vernalization, which causes the garlic to grow a larger bulb. If garlic is planted in the spring, it will not have time to go through this process and will therefore produce a smaller bulb.

In addition, garlic planted in the spring is more likely to be affected by pests and diseases. This is because the spring is a time when pests and diseases are more active. If garlic is planted in the fall, it will be less likely to be affected by these problems.

Overall, it is best to plant garlic in the fall. This will give the garlic the best chance of producing a large, healthy bulb.



A STORY ABOUT ROWAN WHO PLANTED GARLIC IN THE SPRING


"Rowan was a keen gardener, and he loved to experiment with planting different hardneck garlic cultivars. One year, he decided to plant hardneck garlic in the spring. He completely forgot to plant garlic the previous fall. He had read that it was possible to grow garlic in the spring, but he had never tried it before.


Rowan planted the garlic cloves in a sunny spot in his garden. He watered them regularly, and he kept the soil moist. He was careful not to overwater the garlic, as this could cause the bulbs to rot. The garlic plants grew well, and Rowan was pleased with his results. However, when he harvested the garlic, he found that the bulbs were smaller than the ones he had planted in the fall. The cloves in the bulbs were smaller too.


Rowan was disappointed, but he realized that he had made a mistake. He had planted the garlic in the spring, which is not the ideal time to plant garlic. Garlic needs to go through a process called vernalization in order to form plump bulbs. Vernalization is a period of cold weather that triggers the garlic to start growing. If garlic is planted in the spring, it typically does not get exposed to a long period of cold temperatures and will therefore produce smaller bulbs.


Rowan learned his lesson, he planted her garlic in the fall the following year. The garlic grew well, and the bulbs were much larger than the ones he had planted in the previous spring. Rowan was happy with his results, and he continued to plant his garlic in the fall every year. He enjoyed growing his own garlic, and he was always pleased with the delicious results.


One year later....


Rowan learned a valuable lesson and knew that garlic needs to go through a process called vernalization in order to form bulbs. In most cases, if garlic is planted in the spring, the garlic cloves typically are not exposed to cold conditions for a long enough period, and the resultant plant will therefore produce smaller bulbs.


As a scientific test, this spring, Rowan decided to try to vernalize his garlic cloves in the refrigerator. He put the cloves in a brown paper bag and placed them in the back of the refrigerator. He checked on them every few weeks to make sure they were not getting too dry.


After about eight weeks, in early spring, Rowan took the garlic cloves out of the refrigerator and planted them in his garden, in a row next to the garlic planted the previous fall. He watered them regularly, and he kept the soil moist, just as he did with the garlic planted the previous fall. The garlic planted in the spring grew well, and Rowan was pleased with the results. When he harvested the garlic, he found that the bulbs were large and healthy. They were almost as large as the bulbs that were planted in the fall. Rowan was happy that he did this experiment and had been able to vernalize the garlic cloves in the refrigerator. Next year, he will try to vernalize the garlic cloves in a chest freezer. Rowan loves to experiment. He had learned that it is possible to grow large, healthy garlic bulbs in the spring, if you are willing to put in a little extra effort."










Mr. Jere Folgert is the owner of GroEat Garlic Farm in Bozeman, Montana. GroEat Farm is a small, sustainable family farm located in the beautiful Hyalite Foothills, in the shadows of the Gallatin Mountain Range. The hardneck varieties that they grow on their farm flourish, due to the combination of the very cold winters, heavy snowpack, moist spring, temperate summers, and the nutrient-rich and dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Mountain Range.






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