October is the ideal time for planting garlic in Kentucky. Fall planting gives the garlic a head start in the spring and will yield larger heads of garlic when you begin to harvest in early summer. It’s important to note, growing garlic isn’t a short endeavor and it’s good to brush up the best organic practices to get the most out of your garlic crop next summer.
Top tips for planting garlic:
Pick an ideal location. It’s in the ground from October to June. Choose a planting site that drains well, gets full sun, and has minimal weed pressure.
Add organic fertilizers to provide more nutrients. Keep it well-fed with compost or rotted manure, mixed into the soil during planting or side-dressed in the spring. Kelp meal or fish emulsion increase overall nutrient availability and can be purchased locally or ordered online at companies like Fertrell (where OAK members receive a discount).
Minimize weed pressure with natural mulches. Add a 5- to 8- inch layer of straw over the garlic after you plant it. The straw will protect the garlic over the winter and suppress weeds in the spring.
Pick organic seed garlic varieties. If you can buy organic seed garlic from area farmers it will be better acclimated to the growing conditions. If you are new to growing garlic you can try a few different varieties to see what does the best in your area.
The main types of garlic are – soft neck, hard neck, and elephant (technically in the leek family but it’s normally planted as a garlic variety for roasting). A great place to start is with hard neck garlic. It is a variety that normally has bigger cloves, produces a garlic scape or flower in the spring that you can eat, and has a stronger spicier taste.
Resources for Growing Garlic:
General garlic info from the Farmer's Almanac
Webinar on Growing Garlic in Kentucky from UK Extension
Video on planting garlic from Peaceful Valley
Organic growing tips from Grey Duck Farm