Last fall we set forth on a new gardening adventure. Garlic. The first batch that we planted on October 7th was growing so well we decided to throw some more cloves in the ground just to see what would happen on December 14th. There was some contradictory information out there as to whether you plant before the frost or after. After growing our first crop this year I think the answer to that depends on where you live.
The crop we planted before frost did great until we got into our colder winter month of February. I think there was too much leafy green foliage, and it couldn’t withstand some of our freezes. The second batch was really small come February. While most of them seemed to tolerate the cold just fine, some of the tiniest ones didn’t survive.
But the truth is in the harvest.
We harvested the batch planted in October on May 14th. The results were not exactly what I was expecting. From what I could tell the outer layers died in the hard frosts and left the garlic without it’s paper wrapping. All the cloves looked great. They just weren’t covered like they should be. Not a huge loss because I make pesto every summer when basil is rampant and freeze it to cook with through the winter. Obviously this garlic has to be used sooner than later, so pesto it shall be.
While the second batch of garlic was planted two months after the first, it was actually ready to harvest only two weeks later. I held my breath as I pulled the first few plants up. I blew a sigh of relief when they all had their paper coverings as should be. Hallelujah, thank you Jesus! We are currently drying all the heads of garlic in our magnolia tree.
So what was the take away in the “to plant before or after frost” ?
If you live in a place where you have long hard winters I think it would make sense to plant before the frost. Here in East Tennessee where we have somewhat mild winters, I think middle of November would be the sweet spot. For folks further south December probably would have worked great.
For the crazy experiment that this whole garlic planting was, we actually walked away with a lot of knowledge and I’m super pumped for this coming fall to do it all over again.
Much love (and garlic) friends!