How to Grow Onions and Garlic

I’m one of those people who believe that onions and garlic make almost everything taste better. If a recipe calls for half an onion, I figure adding the whole onion will make it better. Same with garlic. And since fall is a perfect time to plant onions and garlic—and we just got fresh garlic and onions for planting—here’s how to plant yours.

Grow Your Own Garlic

Garlic is easy to grow—needing only fertile well-draining soil and sun. To grow your own, choose heads from a garden center (garlic from a grocery store may have been treated with sprouting inhibitors—and it is often months old). Separate the head into individual cloves and plant, pointed end up, two inches deep and four to six inches apart early to mid-October.

In the fall, after planting, mulch well for the winter. Loose fluffy mulch like pine needles or chopped leaves is especially good. Remove the mulch as soon as new growth begins in the spring. Top dress with a good fertilizer—I use Garden-tone. Feeding begins in early spring. Garlic hates competition so KEEP WEEDED.

When any bloom stalks begin to show, cut them back so energy will go back to the bulbs. Garlic is ready to harvest when the tops begin to brown—but have not completely died back.  After harvesting, hang bulbs in small bunches to dry or lay on screens. Do not wash. After six weeks or so of curing, tops and roots can be trimmed back and dirty outer skins removed.

Grow Your Own Onions

Plant onion sets one inch deep, four to six inches apart in mid-October (for a spring/summer harvest) or April (for a fall harvest). Like garlic, they prefer fertile soil, so amending with fresh compost is helpful. Keep weeded and mulch as you would for garlic. You can pick them as “spring onions” whenever the tops are big enough for your preference or leave them until the tops begin to yellow and bend over for slicing size onions. Feed, starting about three weeks after planting.

All Alliums, including onions, garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks are rich in vitamins C and B6, potassium, and important phytonutrients. The American Institute of Cancer Research suggests that these phytonutrients may help prevent inflammation that can lead to cancer.

The health benefits are important but even better, onions and garlic are delicious and, just in case you’re bothered by four-legged pests in your garden, critter-proof! Plant them around the outside of your vegetable or flower garden to help deter nosy nibblers!

Onion sets and garlic just arrived. Come in and add some “yummy” to your yard!

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