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How to Plant Garlic in Minnesota

How to Plant Garlic in Minnesota

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful crop that can be grown in Minnesota’s climate. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, planting garlic can be a rewarding and relatively easy process. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of planting garlic in Minnesota, along with some frequently asked questions to help you along the way.

Choosing the Right Garlic Variety:

Before you start planting garlic, it is important to choose the right variety for Minnesota’s climate. Hardneck varieties like ‘German Extra Hardy’ and ‘Music’ are well-suited for colder regions, as they can handle the freezing temperatures and have a stronger flavor. Softneck varieties, such as ‘Inchelium Red’ and ‘Chet’s Italian Red’, are better suited for milder climates.

Preparing the Soil:

Garlic thrives in well-drained soil with a pH level between 6 and 7. Start by clearing the planting area of any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches and remove any large rocks or clumps. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can help improve the soil’s fertility and drainage.

Planting Garlic:

1. Break the garlic bulbs into individual cloves, ensuring that each clove has a firm outer skin intact.

2. Plant the garlic cloves pointed end up, about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Space rows about 12 inches apart to allow for proper growth.

3. Cover the cloves with soil and gently press it down to ensure good contact with the cloves.

4. Water the newly planted garlic thoroughly, but avoid overwatering as it can lead to rot.

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Caring for Garlic:

Garlic requires minimal care, but there are a few important steps to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest:

1. Watering: Garlic needs consistent moisture, especially during the growing season. Water deeply once a week, providing about an inch of water. Reduce watering as the garlic matures and the foliage starts to yellow.

2. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or leaves, around the garlic plants. Mulching helps to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

3. Fertilizing: Garlic benefits from a balanced fertilizer application in early spring when the shoots emerge. Use a slow-release organic fertilizer or apply compost around the plants.

4. Removing Scapes: Hardneck varieties produce scapes, which are curly shoots that emerge from the garlic plant. Removing the scapes allows the garlic plant to direct more energy towards bulb development. Harvest the scapes when they curl and before they straighten out.

Harvesting Garlic:

Garlic is typically harvested in late summer or early fall, once the foliage starts to turn yellow and brown. Gently dig up the bulbs using a garden fork or shovel, being careful not to damage them. Brush off any excess soil and allow the bulbs to cure in a warm and dry location for about two weeks. Once cured, trim the roots and foliage, leaving about an inch of stem attached to the bulb.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: When is the best time to plant garlic in Minnesota?
A: Garlic is typically planted in Minnesota in mid to late October, before the ground freezes.

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Q: How deep should I plant garlic cloves?
A: Plant garlic cloves about 2 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upwards.

Q: How do I know when to harvest garlic?
A: Harvest garlic when the foliage turns yellow and brown, usually in late summer or early fall.

Q: Can I grow garlic in containers?
A: Yes, garlic can be grown in containers as long as they are at least 12 inches deep and have good drainage.

Q: How should I store harvested garlic?
A: Store cured garlic in a cool and dry location, away from direct sunlight. Garlic can be stored for several months in a well-ventilated container or mesh bag.

In conclusion, planting garlic in Minnesota can be a rewarding experience. By choosing the right variety, preparing the soil, and providing proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of flavorful garlic bulbs. Follow the steps outlined in this article and refer to the FAQs section for additional guidance. Happy planting!

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