Garlic spices up our spaghetti sauce, our pizza, our bread and many other dishes. Even though most commercial garlic is grown in California, those varieties will not work well in Minnesota. For best results, choose a variety that’s adapted to cold climates, according to University of Minnesota Extension.

Garlic varieties come in two broad categories: hardneck, which produces a flowering stalk; and softneck, which does not. Do not buy cloves of garlic at the grocery store for planting.

Tonkadale Greenhouse offers six varieties of garlic from Seed Savers that are ideal for this area. They are:

  • German Red.
  • Georgian Crystal.
  • Georgian Fire.
  • Music.
  • Russian Giant.
  • Broadleaf Czech.

UME tips for growing garlic:

  • Best time to plant is one to two weeks after the first killing frost.
  • Base of the cloves should be planted 2 to 3 inches deeper than the surface. Plant in double rows 6 inches apart.
  • To help control weeds and protect against changing temperatures, cover rows or beds with 3 to 4 inches of mulch, using leaves or straw. In spring, you can remove the mulch to help the soil get warm, or leave it in place to manage weeds.
  • Water garlic thoroughly — just wetting the surface of the soil won’t help. Soak the soil to a depth of at least an inch every week during the growing season.
  • Stop watering two to three weeks before harvest, which normally takes place between late June and late July.
  • When harvesting garlic, keep the shoots and bulbs attached. After removing large pieces of dirt, leave the garlic in a warm, airy, dry place for three to four weeks to cure.
  • When the curing process is complete, trim the shoots 1/2 to 1 inch above the bulbs, and trim roots close to the base.
  • Be sure to save the biggest bulb or cloves so you can re-plant the next season.

For more detailed information on selecting, planting and storing garlic, check the University of Minnesota Extension website. 

Photo credit: Nino Barbieri / CC-BY-SA-3.0