Growing great garlic!

Fall is the best time to plant garlic, so here are a few tips to help you be successful!

 ImageGarlic is propagated by planting the cloves or bulblets that make up the large bulbs. Plant the separated cloves in the fall for a large bulb; planting in the spring is possible but results in a smaller bulb. A slow release fertilizer, composted manure or compost may be added at planting. Cover cloves with 2 inches of soil and a layer of mulch, especially in areas with heavy freeze/thaw cycles. Bulbs are considered mature when the stems turn yellow or brown, usually in mid-summer. Dig them up and hang them to cure in a dry well ventilated place for a week or two. Then store in a  cool, dry, and dark place.

Just remember, however, that garlic is just one of many crops in Idaho that is under strict quarantines from the Idaho Department of Agriculture to prevent the introduction and spread of the disease White Rot!

White rot is a fungal disease of onions and related crops that occurs throughout the world. It can live in the soil for up to 30 years and is spread by water, wind, farm machinery, and infected onion plants or garlic cloves. Seeds do not carry the disease, just the growing and edible parts. The only truly successful method of control is prevention. With over 20,000 acres of commercial onions planted annually in the Snake River Valley, it’s a disease we absolutely want to avoid!

 According to Idaho rules, farmers and gardeners living in 21 quarantined counties (including Ada, Canyon, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington in Idaho, and Malheur County in Oregon) can only plant garlic bulbs or cloves that have been grown, inspected, and cleared for planting inside these same counties. That’s why we can’t order garlic from most catalogs and why we shouldn’t plant garlic produced in other parts of the state (or country).

 While you may freely order and grow onions, shallots and leeks from seed, cultivated garlic plants do not produce true seed naturally, so you are limited to bulbs produced for planting within the quarantine areas. The good news is that more Southwest Idaho growers are getting involved and producing certified stock. Look for new varieties this time of year at locally owned nurseries and farm/garden stores.

For more on Idaho quarantines that may affect home gardeners, download our free publication, Idaho Plant Quarantines and the Home Garden: Understanding the Laws


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