Planting Garlic and Shallots in the Fall

It’s already time to start thinking about fall planting! Two of our favorite – and easiest – fall vegetables to plant in the garden are garlic and shallots. A part of the onion family, both garlic and it’s gourmet counterpart, the shallot, are a flavorful addition to most every recipe. And that fragrance wafting from your kitchen as you saute them up – ah, it’s just the best.

Fall is a perfect time to plant these babies so you can have an awesome spring harvest. Depending on your zone (6A for the Dayton area), you can plant between late September through November. Make sure you get them in the ground before it freezes. You can also plant garlic and shallots in the spring, but fall planting will give you a bigger yield. In other words, there is no time like the (almost) present. 

Here are answers to some common questions we get asked about planting garlic and shallots:

Can I plant garlic and shallot cloves that I get from the grocery store?

While the cloves of garlic and shallots from the grocery store could grow if you want to give it a try, most of them are treated to avoid sprouting. You will get much better taste – and likely a much larger and healthier harvest – if you use untreated cloves from a local nursery (Ahem…) or organic ones from a local market. The bigger the cloves = the larger the bulbs when harvested.

Can we talk about how to plant my garlic and shallots to give me the most bountiful harvest?

Of course we can! Follow these steps to get droves of cloves next spring:

  • Plant your cloves of garlic and shallots in fertile, well drained soil. You can add some compost or other organic matter to make it more loamy if you have clay or other heavy soil. A pH of 6.5 – 7 is best.
  • You’ll need to plant your garlic and shallots somewhere sunny. At least 5-6 hours of full sun is required for maximum growth.
  • Pick a spot where there won’t be a lot of pooling water. They like to stay hydrated, but you don’t want them to sit in a puddle of water too long. That can cause them to rot. Once they are planted, water regularly but let the soil become dry in between watering.
  • To plant: break open the bulbs and separate the cloves. Don’t take the flaky skin off the individual cloves, as this helps keep it protected (and who really wants to peel garlic, anyway). Plant the cloves pointy side up so that the stalk will not have to curl around to make its way out of the ground. 
  • Garlic should be planted 1-2 inches deep and shallots will be placed a little shallower (or, shallot-er) where the pointy side is just below the surface. Shallots also need a little more space between plantings. Plan for at least 3-5 inches apart in a row.
  • Mulch with 4-6 inches of straw to help them get through the hard winter. Remove the straw in April so that it does not promote rot when you begin regular watering again.

How do I harvest my garlic and shallots come springtime?

Harvest in early summer when the leaves start to yellow. You can gently lift on the stalk or better yet, use a spading fork to loosen the dirt and your treasures should lift out of the earth with ease.

Curing is an important process after harvesting. Allow your garlic and shallots to rest unwashed in a mesh bag placed in a cool, dry place for a at least two weeks.

What’s a good variety of garlic to grow in the Dayton, Ohio area?

We’ve had great success with the flavorful hardneck varieties such as Music or German Porcelain. Hard-neck varieties have a thick stem (or scape) that grows through the middle and – bonus – they are usually easy to peel!

Stockslagers has garlic and onion sets in stock now with more coming soon! They are super simple to grow and with so many interesting varieties that you may never go back to buying it at the grocery store again!

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