Growing garlic in northern Nevada can be challenging but rewarding. If you grew garlic this past year, chances are you have completed harvesting, your garlic areas are empty, and you are enjoying your hard-earned produce. There is no time to rest, though, because now is the time to start preparing for your next garlic crop. Two keys to having a successful year are preparing your soil and obtaining quality garlic seed stock.
Soil preparation should start as soon as you finish harvesting. Garlic likes rich soil with good drainage and a lot of organic material. In northern Nevada, organic matter must be added to the soil. Some helpful hints you can follow are: add organic material, keep the soil moist, plant warm-weather vegetables that mature over the summer and add nutrients to the soil, and cover your garlic beds with a layer of mulch and/or row cover to help retain moisture.
If you have limited gardening space, you may not have the ability to rotate your planting area as is recommended. I grow over 400 plants per year in my limited space so, for me, rotating is not possible. If you are planting in the same area and not rotating, it is particularly important to nurture your soil with organic matter. Compost to add to your soil can be purchased locally or developed in your back yard by composting yourself.
People who grew garlic this past year already have a good source of seed stock for next year in their current harvest. Separate and save the best bulbs from this year’s harvest, and store them intact in a cool area with some air circulation and moderate humidity. Garlic bulbs are living plants so be careful not to damage them. Cloves should not be separated until you are ready to plant.
Usually in September, some local nurseries will have a limited stock of garlic for planting in the fall. Garlic seed stock can also be purchased online from organizations specializing in growing and selling reliable garlic seed stock. Orders are being taken now for delivery beginning in September. Online and local suppliers alike run out of stock quickly, so purchase early.
Be prepared. You may experience sticker shock if you are used to buying two pounds of garlic in the grocery store for under $5. Garlic from producers can cost $5 per bulb.
Another source of garlic stock to consider is local growers who have been successful over time. If you have the opportunity, there are heirloom festivals that feature several varieties of garlic along with other vegetable products. For example, I obtained two very good garlic varieties from the Santa Rosa Heirloom festival in California last fall.
Does home-grown garlic sound good to you? Learn more at my “Growing Garlic in Northern Nevada” class offered on September 1 for Cooperative Extension’s “Grow Your Own, Nevada!” program. Visit www.growyourownnevada.com to register. Until then, enjoy your harvest and start planning for next year.
Earstin Whitten is a certified master gardener volunteer with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. He is an expert on growing garlic in northern Nevada with over 20 years of experience. Gardening or landscaping questions? Contact a master gardener at 775-336-0265 or email@example.com, or visit www.growyourownnevada.com.