October and November are probably my favorite times of year for gardening. There are less bugs out and many of my favorite vegetables are grown during this time.
I’m a fan of greens and garlic. Now is the time to plant garlic for those who have never grown this delicacy before. Garlic is one of those vegetables that grows extremely well throughout the wintertime. It will send up green foliage that can handle the freezing and thawing of Tennessee’s crazy winter weather.
I also can’t think of many diseases, animal, or insect issues that affect garlic. Garlic really is the perfect vegetable. In order to help with social distancing, if you eat enough garlic people will gladly stay away from you.
When deciding on garlic to plant, it’s easiest to find a good quality seed company that sells disease-free stock. Garlic should be planted about 2” deep and 6-8” apart and you will only be planting the individual cloves and not the entire bulb.Each bulb can yield up to 10 or 12 individual plants.
There are two main types of garlic — hardneck and softneck. Both types grow well in Tennessee and the harvest is the same. The only main different is hardnecks will form a flower and softnecks do not form a flower. Softneck garlic is also the type that can be braided and hung up. If you are looking for larger cloves, generally hardnecks will have larger, but fewer cloves per bulb. I prefer the hardneck types because I like the flavor and the sheer size of the cloves.
Fertilization can be tricky for garlic because it is not a heavy feeder. A soil test will reveal the exact amounts of fertilizer that you should add. If you try and guess and over-fertilize, then you will have beautiful foliage and no bulb at all. Too much nitrogen can result in beautiful plants with no root structure.
In order to keep weeds down, a good mat of straw or compost will keep winter annual weed seeds down. The one issue with straw is the residual wheat seeds that will germinate in the winter. It’s easiest to allow them to grow some and simply go pull them up before they get large. Do not use hay because this will typically have weed seeds that weren’t removed during the harvest process.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any horticulture facet, feel free to contact Lucas Holman, Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County at 615-444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.