Yard & Garden Report


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Growing Garlic in North Dakota

Plant garlic now and enjoy flavorful meals next summer.

'Music' garlic
Fall is the season to plant garlic. It will add fresh, zesty flavors to your meals next year.

Frost came early this year—much too early.

After a hard frost, our natural tendency may be to put our gardens to bed.

But wait a second. There are still a few things we can plant now, including garlic. A little effort now can lead to amazing flavors in your meals next summer.

Fall is the season to plant garlic. Order your bulbs now before they are all gone. Demand for bulbs is high this fall, and shipping delays may occur due to the COVID crisis. 

Garlic types include hardneck, softneck and elephant. Hardneck types are hardiest and most suitable for us in North Dakota.

‘Music’ (shown) is the most popular variety in the north. This selection from Canada is hardy and very productive. ‘Music’ cloves are huge, flavorful and store very well. 

Garlic is cherished around the world, and many cultures have developed their own favorite varieties. Go online and you can find hardy varieties from countries throughout northern Europe and Asia. Your local garden center is another good place to buy hardy garlic bulbs. 

Some varieties taste mild while others are bold. Some varieties are prized for baking, while others are famous for roasting or frying. The cloves come in shades of white and purple, many with bright stripes.

Garlic is planted soon after the first hard frost, which is usually in late September or early October.

The cloves grow best in a rich, well-drained soil. Add an inch of compost or peat moss to the site and 2 to 3 pounds of 10–10–10 per 100 square feet. Work this into the soil.

Separate cloves from the bulbs a day before planting. Set cloves upright in the furrow, pointed end up, 4–6 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Space rows 18–30 inches apart.

Water deeply to activate the cloves. The cloves will push out roots and underground shoots this fall. Mulch with 4 inches of straw or hay. This mulch will insulate the soil and protect the sprouted bulbs over winter.

The sprouts will shoot out of the ground next spring. Harvest the flower buds (scapes) when they curl in June. Scapes are mild in flavor and great in stir fries. Harvest the bulbs in July when the lower leaves turn brown.

The gardening season is not over. Plant garlic this fall, and you will be rewarded with fresh, zesty flavors in your meals next year!

Written by , Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Photo courtesy of F. D. Richards

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