Can You Plant Garlic in the Spring?

Growing garlic at home is a great way to ensure you have a steady supply of spicy, aromatic bulbs. It’s also a way to explore different varieties of this pantry staple.

But if you forget to plant in the fall, are you out of luck?

Today, we’re digging down to find the truth about whether you can plant garlic in the spring. Depending on your hardiness zone, when “spring” occurs may vary. 

Let’s head out to the garden and get started!

Types of garlic you can grow

While there are hundreds of varieties of garlic, there are two main types that gardeners plant. Whatever your hardiness zone, you’ll want to choose the kind that thrives in your climate. If you don’t, you could have a much smaller harvest than you expected.

Hardneck garlic

The most hardy variety, hardneck garlic, is commonly planted around the midwest and northern parts of the United States. Bulbs produce a large central stem called a scape. Garlic scapes are popular in soups, stews, salads, and pestos.

Usually planted in the fall, this type of garlic has one row of cloves that grow around the central stem. You’ll get larger cloves than you would from the other type of garlic, but there’ll be fewer of them.

Softneck garlic

Softneck garlic is a less hardy variety that’s grown with great success in warmer climates. Instead of the stiff scape, this type has softer greens that are often braided for storing. With a wide range of sizes and numbers of cloves, it’s less predictable than the hardneck variety. 

Stored properly, softneck garlic can last six to nine months before it needs to be tossed out. This could be a better choice if you use a lot of garlic in your cooking and food preparation.

Factors that affect garlic growing in the spring

Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in your vegetable garden. Other than planting the bulbs, there’s very little upkeep needed. Generally, it’s best to plant it in the fall as the cold of winter is essential for vernalization or separating into cloves. But, for those who want to include it in spring planting, there are other factors to consider.

The climate has a massive effect on your garlic’s growth 

As we mentioned, a cold winter is essential for proper vernalization of garlic bulbs. For areas with warmer climates, missing the cold season can hurt the outcome. Without a dormant period in cooler weather, you’ll end up with a garlic bulb instead of cloves. You can still enjoy your harvest; it’ll just be much smaller than it would be otherwise.

Planting in the spring makes cold treatment necessary. You can place bulbs or cloves in the refrigerator for three or four weeks to get the best from your harvest. Also, consider planting as early in the spring season as possible.

Always refer to your hardiness zone for a good idea of when you should begin planting.

Soil type and site are a big factor on the garlic

When planting this hard bulb, you’ll want to look for well-draining soil with a pH between 6 and 7. It can tolerate poor soil, but you should mix in some fertilizer for best results. Garlic loves rich fishmeal and bloodmeal mixes!

The plants respond best when it’s exposed to sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. You could consider using raised garden beds for better results, depending on your garden layout. 

Your bulb selection is important 

Softneck garlic is usually your best bet for spring planting as it requires less cold to vernalize than hardneck. While you can order garlic cloves online, most nurseries have stock on hand during the spring planting season.

Tips to grow garlic in the spring

Growing a bumper crop of garlic with a spring planting is possible. Your plants will need more tending than fall planting. But you’ll love the outcome if you follow our tips.

Get rid of all scapes

If you plant hardneck garlic in the spring, it’ll still produce delicious scapes or green garlic in early summer. Wait until they’ve curled around twice, then snip them off just about the surface. You can use them in various recipes, and they’re a great way to get more garlicky flavor in your life.

Pull any weeds that you see

Garlic bulbs pull a lot of nutrients from the soil and don’t tolerate competition well. Weed your garlic beds regularly to keep broadleaf and grassy pests away. Mulching your beds after planting can keep weeds to a minimum.

Provide consistent moisture

Spring-planted garlic misses out on the part of the growing season and reaches its peak in late summer. This hotter, drier part of the year doesn’t provide as much moisture as the bulbs need. Planting in raised beds may make it easier to control the moisture and give a better harvest.

Make sure your garlic is fed enough nutrients

As we mentioned, garlic loves to pull nutrients from the soil. Make sure you’re feeding it with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Our favorite organic fertilizer blends include lots of fish and alfalfa meal to promote healthy, bright green leaf growth. Worm tea, a liquid organic fertilizer, is also ideal for use with garlic planted in the spring. 

A strong showing above ground usually means you’ll get large, plentiful cloves from your garden.

Contact Whitwam Organics for all questions regarding growing produce!

For all your gardening questions in the Tampa area, turn to Whitwam Organics! Our expert staff can help you design your perfect garden layout. We can even come out and do a site visit for those issues that are difficult to diagnose. You can also purchase seeds, organic fertilizers, and soil in our online shop. 

Check out our website today for expert tips and advice about maximizing your home harvest.

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