Garlic is a versatile vegetable that can be used for cooking and even natural remedies. The good news is that garlic is not difficult to grow, even in the hot Texas climate. With some preparation and care, you can have a plentiful garlic harvest that will last you through the whole year. In this blog post, I’ll walk through the steps for how to successfully plant and grow garlic in Texas.
Selecting the Right Garlic Variety
The first step is selecting the right garlic variety to plant. There are two main types:
Softneck Garlic – This type produces heads made up of tight rows of large cloves. Softnecks have flexible stems that make braiding and storing them easy. Good softneck varieties for Texas include Texas White, Inchellium Red, and Nootka Rose. These are well-adapted for the soil and climate in Texas.
Hardneck Garlic – Hardnecks have stiffer stalks and produce beautiful scapes and flowers. Types include Spanish Roja and Purple Glazer. Hardnecks typically need cold winters to grow to full size, so they can be slightly more difficult in a Texas climate, but are still worth growing.
In general, softneck varieties are the best choice for successfully growing garlic in Texas. Stick with varieties that are specifically recommended for the Southern region. A few cloves or a starter bulb from a nursery or seed store is all it takes to get started.
Picking the Right Planting Time
Growing garlic successfully depends largely on when it is planted. Garlic goes through a cold dormancy period, so it needs around 6 weeks of cold soil (below 40°F or 4°C) before it can produce bulbs.
In Texas, you will want to target mid to late October for your garlic planting. This timing will provide ample cold before warmer spring weather arrives. If you plant too late in November or December, your garlic plants won’t last through the hot Texas summer.
For best results, get your garlic into the ground by October 30th at the latest. Some gardeners even recommend aiming for around October 15th if you want maximum bulb size by harvest time. Just be sure to plant several weeks before the ground freezes for dormancy.
Prepping Soil with Compost & Fertilizer
When planting garlic, it’s important to have nutrient rich, well-drained soil that has plenty of organic matter. About 4-6 weeks before planting, you’ll want to prepare the beds.
First remove any rocks or debris where you will plant. Loosen the soil and mix in a 2-4 inch layer of aged compost or manure. Compost feeds soil microbes and provides a slow release of nutrients.
You can also have your soil tested and then mix in a balanced organic fertilizer as recommended. Garlic likes soil with a pH between 6.2 to 6.8. Adding bone meal, worm castings, or bat guano will provide a phosphorus boost which aids in bulb growth.
The goal is to create the most fertile soil possible before planting so your garlic will thrive.
Planting Garlic Cloves Properly
Once your October mid-month planting date arrives and your beds are prepped, you’re ready to plant! Separate your garlic bulb heads into individual cloves, leaving the papery skins on. Select large, healthy looking cloves without bruises or blemishes.
Garlic planted too close together will have to compete for nutrients. Space cloves 4-6 inches apart in rows 8-10 inches apart. Place cloves root side down 2-3 inches deep in the soil. Pack soil firmly over them.
You can plant garlic in raised beds, containers or directly in garden beds. Just make sure the site gets full sun. Some shade in peak summer will reduce sun scald. Drip irrigation systems work well if rainfall is insufficient through the growing season.
Right after planting, water beds thoroughly to soak soil and spur germination. By mid-winter, you should see green garlic shoots poking up!
Caring for Your Garlic Crop
Caring for garlic as it grows mainly involves keeping plants at an optimal moisture level. Too little water causes stunted growth. Overwatering leads to rot and disease.
Check soil moisture weekly. Garlic has shallow roots so water lightly when the top few inches become dry. About an inch of water per week is sufficient. More may be needed during hot, dry spells. Side dress plants with more compost or organic fertilizer when green shoots are 6 inches tall.
It’s also important to keep beds free from weeds and grass that competes for nutrients. Mulch heavily around plants to control weeds. Hand pull any that get through. Avoid tilling the soil mid-season which can damage developing bulbs.
In late winter, hardneck garlic will produce a curly green stem called a scape. Remove these by cutting stems close to the top of the bulb to allow better bulb growth. Softnecks won’t produce these.
You’ll know when mature garlic is ready for harvesting when about half of the plant has turned yellow-brown. This is usually in May or June in Texas. Stop watering at this point to make for easy harvesting.
Carefully dig bulbs or pull plants out of the ground. Avoid pulling on stems or the bulbs can separate from them. Gently loosen soil if needed to remove plants.
Set plants or bulbs out to cure for 1-2 weeks protected from rain and sun. This dries outer skins for long term storage. Clip roots and stems close to the bulb once completely cured. Store bulbs in mesh bags or hand tied bundles in a cool, dry place for months of garlic goodness!
Enjoying Your Garlic Bounty
Growing your own garlic in Texas takes some preparation and patience through winter dormancy – but it’s worth it! Homegrown garlic bulbs store well for 6-9 months or more. They also have superior flavor compared to grocery store garlic.
Use your fresh garlic harvest minced raw in dressings and sauces. Roast whole bulbs on the grill under foil. Sauté chopped cloves in olive oil to infuse pasta, soups and breads. The possibilities are endless for enjoying the fruits of your Texas garlic harvest.
With the right garlic variety, perfect planting time, fertile soil and attentive seasonal care – you can have a thriving garlic crop in the Lone Star State. Get your garlic planted this October and you’ll reap the rewards next summer!
So there you have it – a complete guide to successfully growing delicious, healthy garlic right in your Texas garden. What’s your favorite way to cook with fresh garlic? Let me know in the comments!Copy