How to Plant Garlic in Canada

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Lucky for the garlic lovers out there, garlic is a relatively easy crop to grow. While it isn’t the quickest crop to grow, most of the work involved in growing garlic is passive. There are, however, certain factors to take into account when planting and caring for your garlic. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to plant, grow, and harvest garlic in Canada.

Which Type of Garlic Can be Grown in Canada?

There are hundreds of types of garlic, but not all varieties can successfully be grown in Canada. The best garlic variety for growing in northern climates like Canada is hardneck garlic. Hardneck garlic is known for its thick skin and hard stalk. These characteristics allow it to thrive in colder climates. In fact, its winter dormant period, referred to as vernalization,  is actually integral to its growth process.

Certain softneck garlic families can also be grown in Canada. These include Silverskin and Artichoke. However, they will do better in milder winter conditions. 

What is The Difference Between Hardneck And Softneck Garlic?

The main difference between hardneck and softneck garlic is in the stem. Hardneck garlic grows a hard stalk-like stem, whereas softneck garlic grows soft leaves instead. Hardneck garlic also tends to have thicker skin compared to the papery skin found on softneck garlic. The garlic commonly found in grocery stores is softneck garlic. 

When to Plant Garlic in Canada?

Eager gardeners might choose to plant garlic in the spring, when it comes to garlic, the consensus is to plant in the fall and harvest it in the summer. That’s because the garlic varieties grown in Canada (mostly hardneck) require a dormant period with exposure to cold temperatures. This period is referred to as vernalization. During vernalization, the garlic clove will break open and be mature enough for harvesting mid-summer. 

The exact month to plant garlic will largely depend on what region you’re living in. Generally speaking, garlic should be planted in the fall if you’re living in a northern climate. The garlic should then be harvested the following summer. Depending on what time of year your region experiences sustained freezing temperatures, garlic can be planted anywhere from mid-September to late November. As long as the garlic is planted at least 4 to 6 weeks before subzero temperatures arrive.

How to Grow Garlic From a Bulb

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to plant garlic from a bulb.

  • Before planting your garlc cloves, mix a few tablespoons of fertilizer or bone or fish meal into the soil you’ll be planting in. The fertilizer should be several inches deep. 
  • When choosing a garlic bulb to plant, make sure that it’s plump, firm, and free from any diseases. You also want to make sure that the bulb wasn’t purchased at the grocery store, as these are rarely fresh enough and tend to be sprayed with chemicals that prevent sprouting. 
  • A few days before planting your bulbs, break apart cloves from the bulb. Do not remove the paper husk from the individual cloves.
  • When it’s time to plant your garlic, plant the individual cloves 4 to 8 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in an upright position. This means their wider side should be facing down, and their more pointed end should be facing up.
  • The garlic can be planted in rows that are spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. 

Tips For Planting Garlic in Canada

Growing garlic in Canada is easy if a few important requirements are met. These requirements involved sufficiently mulched, weeded, and nutritious soil with adequate moisture. 

Heavily Mulch Your Soil

In Canada, where temperatures drop below zero, it’s essential to heavily mulch the soil with to ensure proper overwintering. Mulching will protect your garlic from harsh winter conditions and help ensure that the planted bulbs remain dormant until spring. 

Keep Your Garlic Bed Weed-Free

When spring arrives, garlic shoots will emerge from the soil. It’s important to cut off any flowers that grow from the shoots, as they will prevent the bulbs from growing to their full potential. It’s also important to remove weeds from the area to prevent any competition between the garlic and nearby weeds. 

Water Regularly During The Bulbing Period

Depending on temperatures in your region of Canada, the bulbing period for garlic is generally between mid-may and throughout June. It’s important to water the bulbs every 3 to 5 days during this time, especially if weather conditions are very dry.  

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