Garlic is one of the great things that you can plant in October in Santa Fe. The colder climates can have garlic growing over the winter. Most people plant after the first frost, which is usually October 10 in northern New Mexico. Plant by Halloween as an easy date to remember and you will harvest by the Fourth of July.
What is garlic?
Garlic is in the Alium Family that also includes onions, shallots and leeks. It reproduces from itself so find a garlic that you enjoy. You can also plant shallots and onion sets in the fall. Local nurseries will have these dried items to start.
Why the plant in the fall?
Garlic is hard to start in warm weather. It does not compete well with weeds so fall is a better time to plant once it freezes and weeds are gone. The taste is also improved with the cold winter and the hot summer before it is harvested in July.
The seed is a clove of garlic. This can be from a head of garlic. Be careful where you buy the head of garlic. I have seen a statistic that 75% of garlic is imported and will be a soft neck variety with mild flavor. I love garlic and want to plant some interesting varieties. There are two main types of garlic, hard neck and soft neck.
Hard Neck Garlic- Large cloves, fewer on each head
Soft Neck Garlic- Smaller cloves, more on each head and has a longer storage life
Purchase your garlic from a trusted grower that either uses organic methods or a no-chemical approach like biodynamic farming. You can also purchase seed garlic from a nursery that has picked the larger cloves of garlic to produce a larger yeild. Check with your favorite nursery to get local garlic. In Santa Fe, Plants of the Southwest has a wide variety of different hard neck and soft neck garlic.
Where to Plant?
- The space will be planted until July, so make sure that you can provide that much space in your garden. You will not be able to plant spring crops there.
- The cloves will be 6″ apart. Measure the space with your hand spread out to estimate.
- Companion Plants- cabbage, beets, lettuce (deters aphids) and squash (may deter squash bugs)
- Not Companion Plants- Beans, peas and potatoes