26 Sep 2016

Glorious Fall Garlic


Autumn has arrived in New Mexico, and with it the end of another bountiful harvest. This is a time for gardens to be cleaned of the remnants of another successful growing season. But don’t be saddened by the end of the garden year. Instead get excited to prepare for next Spring, as Autumn is also a time for garlic to be planted!

Garlic is easy to grow, fun to cook with and stores well. There are two subspecies of garlic, so it is important to determine your plant hardiness zone when choosing what type of garlic to plant. Some locales will find that both types of garlic can be supported.

Hardneck Garlic, Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon:
Hardneck garlic is named for the long hard stalk that grows up out of the center of the bulb of garlic. This flowering stem will produce a scape at the top, which can be harvested and used for cooking. Hardneck garlic tends to produce fewer cloves per bulb than softneck garlic varieties, usually around 4-12. Hardneck garlic does best when grown in areas that have a more severe, cold winter season.

Softneck Garlic, Allium sativum ssp. sativum:
Softneck garlic varieties flourish in areas that have a milder climate and mature more quickly than hardneck garlic. These varieties store longer than the hardneck varieties but do not produce scapes. Softneck garlic varieties produce many cloves per head of garlic, often between 8-20 although some can produce as many as 40.

A single head of garlic is composed of many cloves. Each of the cloves can be planted individually to yield a new head of garlic in the spring. Gently loosen all of the cloves from one another, careful not to remove their individual skins. The skins on the cloves help protect them through the winter as they chill in the ground. Garlic cloves should be planted with the pointy side up, about 2-3 inches below the soil surface. Be sure to plant them no closer than four inches apart and then cover them with soil. Gardeners in colder climates should mulch the garlic in with straw to protect them from winter snow and frost. 

When Spring arrives, the garlic plants will begin to pop their green heads above the soil. Make sure you begin to water them. Depending on the type of garlic planted, you can expect a harvest in early to mid-summer.

Happy planting!


Danielle Simmons, Horticulture and Animal Interactions
Inspired by her childhood experience of play in the forests of upstate New York, Danielle has devoted her career to connecting human wellness with a deeper engagement to the natural world. Danielle planted and manages the greenhouse and the garden beds at Sunrise. She enjoys teaching guests the many uses of herbs, from first aid to making herbal teas and salves. When she is not being inspired by the big trees and abundant water at Sunrise, she is enjoying time with her family and their organic garden, which they tend on their homestead south of Santa Fe.