Yes, NOW is a perfect time to plant garlic in the Pacific Northwest, and my guess is, if you haven’t planted them already, you have some voluptuous bulbs in your hot little hands just waiting for the right conditions to take root. You are faced with a serious dilemma. Will you tuck them in the ground for the winter and encourage them to be all that they can be? – or – will you just eat them right here and now because, for Criminy sake, they are just knock-out gorgeous and who can wait ‘til next summer? And then will you get on a tangent about the word Criminy and wonder whether anyone even says such a thing anymore (or whether it even matters?) Meanwhile, the sun is going down earlier and earlier…and it looks like rain….
Believe me, I have been there.
It’s perfectly ok to be confused about what to do or not and be almost paralyzed with indecision stemming from a desire to do it right – I mean – this is your whole crop for next year and beyond, so you don’t want to screw this up! I’ve been growing garlic for – good grief! – about 35 years, and all I can say is, Every Year Is Different. I am still confused, but dazed and confused is a way of life for me, so I’m rather used to it.
But seriously, friends, I am here to make your life easier.
Despite what some might call a handicap but which I might better describe as intermittent inspiration, over the years, I’ve written an assortment of ideas on what has worked and what has been a total disaster for me. You might find these wanderings helpful – and in this spirit of trying to make things easier for you, I have listed the links below. (Of course, you could just do a little search and a list of these blog posts would magically appear on your screen – but you might not be able to tell by the title and the first few lines just where things are going. I certainly didn’t know myself when I wrote them.)
If you’re looking for straightforward, clear instructions, um, you probably won’t find it on these pages. There are plenty of other websites for that. I mean, how hard can it be? Just stick it in the ground, root end down, pointy end up, and cover up with about 2 inches of dirt. Why do we have to make things so complicated? However, if you enjoy laughing at gleaning from other’s mistakes, embellished with a story or two, you might find just what you’re looking for and a little bit more.
And if you’re a sucker for cool tools (and who isn’t?), check out our new handy-dandy garlic hole maker. If somebody wants one of these, we’d be glad to make you a nicer one. This one was made from what we had laying around (the most expensive part is the hardware). I still have the first prototype that is set at 6” spacing; however, in this new & improved model, the spacing is fully adjustable. (This year, I am spacing the garlic slightly wider at 8” down the row and 10” across. I figure the wider spacing will give them more airflow, which might mean less chance of the rust I dealt with this year, and also more space for them to reach out for the good things they love in life: food, water, and, like all of us in the rainy Northwest, sunshine). This thing makes the whole process go a lot faster – and everything pops up so straight and even – even when you plant them in circles and trapezoids!
And if your brain is in tangles trying to figure how many extra cloves you might be able to cram into a space if you vary the planting distance an inch or so or how much space you might need with xxxx number of cloves … may I refer you to the Garlic Planting Calculator in Excel that has formulas all set up that allow you to test different scenarios. Simply make your changes in the GREEN squares and everything miraculously adjusts accordingly! I just love magic.
One final word of advice – always plant more than you think you need, because something always happens! And if you end up with extras, sharing is a great way to make friends.
If you need more seed, contact me. I still have some Brown Tempest, Chesnok Red, Juan de Fuca Wonder, Killarney Red, Metechi, Romanian Red, Siberian, Siciliano (small ones), Vekak, and Ziemiai (also small ones).
And now for the links: