I am of the opinion that every Montana gardener should be growing garlic. The flavor and aroma of home grown garlic is unmatched by the bland garlic sold in grocery stores.  Garlic is a low maintenance plant that doesn’t require much care after it has been planted–which is done in the fall.  It’s the perfect crop for beginners, busy gardeners, small gardens and for gardeners who want to dip their toes into preserving their harvest for winter use.   Check out these 5 reasons I think everyone should be growing garlic:

 

1. Easy to Grow

For those new to gardening, garlic is a fantastic place to start.  It’s one of the most forgiving crops you can cultivate, making it perfect for beginners.  Garlic grows from individual cloves, each of which can be planted to produce a whole head of garlic. Simply break apart the cloves, plant them in well-drained soil, amend with bone meal at planting time and watch as they sprout and grow next spring. With minimal effort and some patience, you’ll soon have your very own garlic crop thriving in your garden.

 

2. Low Maintenance

One of the biggest advantages of growing garlic is its low maintenance requirements.  Montana summers are busy!! Between making time to be on the river, in the mountains or whatever other summer hobby you enjoy, it can be difficult to dedicate enough time for the garden. Once planted, garlic requires very little attention. It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of weather conditions.  Pests and diseases tend to leave it alone. Watering is typically only necessary during dry spells, and garlic doesn’t need frequent fertilization.  Garlic is a low-maintenance crop that allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor with minimal effort.

 

3. Better Flavor

When you grow your own garlic, you’ll discover a world of difference in flavor compared to store-bought varieties.  Freshly harvested garlic has a vibrant, robust flavor and aroma that can’t be matched by the often-mild and sometimes-stale bulbs found in supermarkets. Homegrown garlic allows you to experience the true essence of this culinary staple, enhancing the taste of your favorite dishes.  With a little extra attention, many garlic varieties can be cured and stored for winter use.  If you’re interested in dipping your toes into garden preservation, garlic is an excellent starting point! Check out our article here for more garlic curing information.

 

4. Doesn’t Require a Lot of Space

Even if you have limited garden space, you can still enjoy homegrown garlic. Garlic doesn’t demand much room and can be tucked into small beds.   Garlic cloves can be planted every 4-6 inches in the garden.  If you follow the square foot gardening method, you can plant up to 9 cloves per square foot.  Even if you only have 1 square foot of space to spare, you would be able to harvest 9 heads of garlic!  I aim to plant around 100 cloves of garlic every fall.  Garlic does take up a significant amount of space in my garden because of the quantity that I plant.  However, this amount of garlic lasts my family until the next harvest while also providing enough garlic for pressure canned tomato sauce, salsa and other preserved creations!

 

 

5. Planting Time

Timing is crucial when it comes to growing garlic, and fortunately, it happens at a time of year when not much else is happening in the garden. Garlic is typically planted in mid-October in Montana, allowing it to establish roots before winter.   Prepare your growing space with a little bit of bone meal, place the cloves 4-6 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. Cover with soil and mulch.  Water in generously and walk away. Easy as that!  If you’re looking for a more in depth planting guide, check out ours here.

There are plenty of reasons why home gardeners should consider growing garlic. It’s easy to cultivate, low-maintenance, and highly rewarding in terms of flavor. Plus, it doesn’t require much space, making it accessible to gardeners with limited room to spare. So, if you’re looking to add a flavorful and fuss-free crop to your garden, give garlic a try. You won’t be disappointed by the taste or the satisfaction of growing your own gourmet ingredient right at home. Happy gardening!

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