Thursday, October 8, 2009

Garlic and Fall-Planted Onions

I plan to get my garlic and multiplier onions into the ground in the next week or so, but other people may want to plant sooner. That would be fine. Here in my yard, I would feel comfortable planting garlic and multiplier onions anytime from early October to mid-November.

A UGA publication called “Garlic Production for the Gardener” points out that garlic prefers, like every other garden plant, a soil that is “well-drained … with organic matter worked into it.” Of course, we all know how close my yard’s soil comes to that well-drained ideal….not even close!

Luckily I have been adding organic matter to the garden for years, but even with those additions, before planting the little cloves, I will add more organic matter in the form of compost from the pile out back and a purchased bag of soil conditioner (the brand I picked up at the local Home Depot is called Nature’s Helper). I will also add a little fertilizer, but more will be put on in Spring when the plants really begin to grow.

To get started with the planting, I will need to pull apart some heads of garlic. The cloves get planted individually, still in their papery wrappers, three to four inches apart. They go in the ground pointy end up, the tip about one inch below the surface. Only the fat cloves from the outer layers get planted, since they seem to result in the biggest bulbs. The littler ones go into a dish on the kitchen counter, to be used in cooking.

The soil requirements of multiplier onions are basically the same as those for garlic, so getting the garden ready for them is essentially the same task. This saves the gardener a load of trouble.

The multiplier onions are much easier to separate than the garlic, so pulling the clumps apart doesn’t seem like such a chore. The individual onions get planted just below the soil surface and ten to twelve inches apart, because they will make big (if all goes well) clumps of onions as they grow.

I also bought, at a grocery store, a couple of organically grown shallots to plant. I chose “organic” so I could be sure that they hadn’t been treated with any anti-sprouting chemicals. Their requirements are similar to those for garlic and multiplier onions, so they should be fine in the same bed. Since they make clumps the way multiplier onions do, they get planted the same way.

In addition, I saved seed from some red onions this summer. The only UGA publication specifically on growing onions that I found is one called “Organic Vidalia Onion Production.” Even though my seeds are not for Vidalia onions, the growing requirements should be the same. The publication mentions that seed for Vidalia onions should be planted in September. The Vidalia area is enough south of here that I know I am very late with my onion seeds, but I am going to put some of these into the ground with the other onion-family plants, anyway. I am hopeful that I will get, at least, some little onions. If I am lucky and we have a warmish Fall, the plants might get far enough along that I get some medium sized onions. That would be great!


  1. I'm following your lead. I watched some videos on Youtube about fall planting and I was a little bit sad because I felt like I failed when my pumpkins didn't survive. Also, I planted some garlic this summer that I pulled up too early in anticipation :( So I'm going to do it right this time and plant my garlic out starting tomorrow. Thanks!

  2. Kalena,

    You shouldn't feel too bad about the pumpkins; plenty of people have trouble with them here because of the squash vine borers. I do have a friend who's had good luck with the Cinderella pumpkin, though.

    Garlic that is planted now (or reasonably close to now) will be ready to harvest around the end of June. It is a long wait, but worth it! If my yard would ever dry out, I could get my garlic planted, too...

    Amy, NW of Atlanta


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