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Plant Garlic This Fall

Growing garlic in the upper Midwest requires a little different thinking.

More Americans are enjoying garlic-enhanced meals than ever before because it is a versatile, friendly and healthful herb, according to Ron Smith, North Dakota State University Extension Service horticulturist.

Italian, French, Mexican and Middle Eastern countries, among others, center a large part of their cuisine around the use of garlic in meals.

Growing garlic in the upper Midwest requires a little different thinking for the average gardener who never has grown it.

“Garlic cloves are planted in the fall from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10,” Smith says. “The residual heat in the soil from weeks of high temperatures during the summer will be sufficient to stimulate root growth without overstimulating top growth.”

Both the hardneck and softneck types of garlic can be grown in the upper Midwest. Shop at local garden centers or order online from a reputable garden catalog company.

The cloves should be planted blunt-end down with the pointed tip of the clove about 3 inches below the soil surface.

“If the balmy weather of fall should extend too far and some top growth is noted, there is no need to worry because garlic is tolerant to cold and our typical winter snows provide excellent insulation,” Smith says. “One can place a frost blanket over the planted area to provide extra protection.”

Garlic should be planted where a full day of sun is available and in soil with excellent drainage. If garden or flowering crops have been grown successfully in the area intended for garlic, it should thrive because of the residual nutrients from normal spring fertilization practices.

Fall planted garlic is harvested when the foliage begins flagging. Pull the bulbs when the soil is dry and then brush, air wash or gently rub the soil off. Spread the bulbs out on newspaper for seven to 10 days to completely cure the garlic before putting it somewhere in the kitchen for consumption.

In addition to local markets to purchase garlic cloves, here are some reliable mail order sources to consider: Harris Seeds, Jung Seed, Territorial Seed, Cook’s Garden, Burpee Seed and Gardener’s Supply. Review their offerings online and place your order. Don’t delay if you intend to have a garlic crop for 2012 because supplies usually are limited.

A NDSU video on growing garlic is available on YouTube at

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Ron Smith, (701) 231-7971,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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