by Connie Oswald Stofko
You can generally harvest garlic in mid- or late-July in Western New York. The foliage starts to die back, which is an indication that the garlic is ready.
Once your garlic is harvested, you’ll have an empty spot in your garden until October, the recommended time to plant garlic.
But do we have to wait until October to plant garlic? As we discussed in a previous article, maybe not.
Last year, I planted my garlic in intervals starting in August. (I can’t tell you exactly when I planted each batch because the ink washed off my plant tags.)
Tip: When writing on metal plant tags, don’t use an old marker that’s on the dry side. Invest in a new, juicy permanent marker.
I planted the earliest cloves on the right of my bed and moved to the left as I planted each subsequent batch.
I was hoping that by staggering the planting times, I might get garlic scapes developing in waves instead of having them pop out all at the same time, but that didn’t happen. The cloves that I planted first were the first to get scapes, but the other plants caught up within days.
The cloves that I planted weren’t uniform in size, so we can’t draw any conclusions about whether the planting time had any effect on the size of the plant or the size of the head of garlic. I planted my biggest cloves first; the larger cloves produce larger plants and larger heads of garlic.
From this poorly constructed experiment, it seems that you should be able to plant garlic any time between August and October, but it won’t affect the timing of the garlic scapes.
Bonus tip: The rabbits like to build their nest in my garlic patch. As they dug, they kicked out some of the biggest cloves I had planted. Aargh! To discourage the rabbits, place old chopsticks, plastic forks (tines up) and stiff plastic plant tags throughout the bed. UPDATE: This didn’t work for me. The rabbits just dug up the soil where they wanted their nest even when there were wooden craft sticks and plastic markers in their way. They didn’t mind the smell of the garlic plants that had sprouted. The next year I tried bird netting, which kept them from trampling throughout the garlic patch. They did find a spot just beyond the netting to make a nest, but at least they didn’t dig up or sit on any garlic while the bird netting was in place.