Garlic and Shallots Planted

First and foremost - Happy Halloween!!  Normally we do our pumpkin carving about a week ahead of time but this year we were rather late - I didn't finish mine until yesterday:

My garden is still such a mess - it is indeed a scary sight.  But it has been such a busy year in the garden with the expansion, that I'm going to cut myself a little slack on that front.

Reading Dave’s garlic planting post last week set a fire under me to get my garlic in the ground.  The one thing that was holding me back was the compost.  So this past weekend I finally got around to getting a load of compost – I do make my own but my setup is still too small to generate the quantity that I need.  Creating a nice big compost area is on the “to do” list.

My garlic should have been planted in mid-October….or at least that is what my planting schedule says.  But every year I end up planting it late, usually around the last week of October.  Maybe I should change my planting date to the end of October as this seems to be working out well – the garlic and shallots have always overwintered just fine.

When I prep any bed for planting, I like to aerate it first with a garden fork.  After aerating, I added compost.  To make adding the right amount of compost easier, I use an old bucket.  I calculated the number of buckets of compost needed to give me a 1” layer (which works out to be 8 buckets) and simply dump them evenly on the surface of the bed.
Compost Ready for Spreading
After spreading out the compost with a rake, I added sheep manure, kelp meal, organic fertilizer (chicken manure pellets) and a few handfuls of bonemeal.  I worked all of these amendments into the top few inches of soil using a cultivator.  Then I smoothed out the soil with a rake and I was ready for planting.

My last post was all about my visit to the Stratford Garlic Festival last month.  I needed to get a few new varieties of garlic to replace those that I had decided to no longer grow (which I posted about HERE).

Two of my old varieties, Persian Star & Porcelain, did very well so I decided to keep these.  Both were originally purchased 3 years ago from Salt Spring Seeds.  Persian Star is a Purple Stripe garlic.  The Porcelain was simply sold as that, so I have no idea which of the numerous different Porcelain garlic varieties it is.
At the festival, I picked up an additional 5 varieties of garlic.  Almost every vendor was selling Music (a Porcelain).  It is obviously one of the most popular varieties so I, of course, had to give it a try too.  Wouldn’t it be funny if I found it to be the same as my unnamed Porcelain and I had been growing it all this time without realizing it?
"Music" (Porcelain)
Then there was a small vendor, Niagara Garlic Glen, that was selling a variety that they themselves had developed, right here in Southern Ontario, called “Sweet Candy”.
Niagara Garlic Glen Booth
These guys were very enthusiastic about their garlic.  I did a sniff test and it did smell wonderful – too wonderful to pass up.  I’m not exactly sure what type of garlic it is other than that it’s a hardneck.  As they only had 3 or 4 large cloves per bulb & the outer skin is white, I'm guessing they are a variety of Porcelain.  The bulbs themselves are rather small but you did get 4 bulbs for $5, which is a great price.  I want to get as many bulbs as possible out of the seed garlic so all of the cloves are being planted.  I have a feeling that this variety in particular is going to have me antsy to dig up the bulbs for a taste next summer!

"Sweet Candy"
My last garlic purchase was made at the Golden Acres Farm booth.  This was one of the busiest booths at the festival & it took a couple of minutes just to get inside for a peak.

Golden Acres Farm Booth
Once inside, I found out the reason why – they had at least a dozen different varieties of garlic (most of the other vendors had only one or two).  Their garlic is also organic and certified disease free.  Each variety was displayed in a small bushel basket that was labeled with additional information such as country of origin.  All of the bulbs had an identifying sticker on the stem end, which is very useful when you are purchasing several different varieties.  I wish I had taken a picture, but it was literally elbow to elbow in there.

All this, of course, comes at a price.  Golden Acres sells their garlic by weight, not by bulb.  I purchased 3 large bulbs (each a different variety) and it cost me $9.50.  A bit pricey but I’m hoping it’s worth it.  The three varieties I purchased were Portugal 1 (Porcelain from the Azores), Pitarelli (Rocambole from the Czech Republic) and Duganski (Marbled Purple Stripe from Kazakhstan). 

From the left:  Portugal 1 (Porcelain), Duganski (Marbled Purple Stripe)
and Pitarelli (Rocambole)
The label on the Duganski adds a “j” at the end of the name which I have since realized is likely a typo.

So with my beds all prepped, I planted my garlic on Tuesday.  I spaced the cloves 5” apart as this gave me good results last year.  I also used a staggered spacing which I feel gives them just as much (if not more) elbow room as planting 6” apart in standard rows.  The cloves were planted – pointy side up – approximately 5” deep.  And of course, I made sure to label my rows.  I also made myself a little map of the bed which specifies how many cloves of each variety I planted.

As a side note, almost all of the bulbs had at least a few exposed cloves once they were separated:

Exposed Flesh on Several of the "Music" cloves
I recall this happening in the past, with no adverse affects on the harvest, but I had never documented it so I can't be sure.  This time, I decided to make a note of exactly how many cloves had exposed flesh for each variety - just to see if this makes any difference.

I also planted the golden shallots in this bed.  These were spaced 6” apart (also staggered) and planted about 4” deep.  Unfortunately, the bulbs I planted were fairly small as the onion maggots got to the largest bulbs this year.  I will have to net this bed in the spring to keep the onion maggots out.
Laying out the garlic & shallots
on the 2nd half of the bed
You probably noticed what looks like red onions in the photo above.  These are actually Camelot shallots that I grew from seed this year.  I decided to do a little experiment with them.

Normally shallots are grown from bulbs that are planted in either the spring or fall.  The single bulbs multiply, forming a clump of bulbs.  I always plant my Golden (and in prior years Grey) shallots at the same time as the garlic.  I decided to take six of the Camelot shallots and plop them into the bed to see what they would do.  Will they divide & multiply come spring, or will they sit there and rot?

Regardless of what happens, I will still be growing Camelot shallots from seed next year as I was very impressed with them, especially when it came to their size – they were huge!

Till next time...


  1. I finally got around to planting my garlic today too. Though I just have one variety. It is the only one that has survived from my other garden and never felt I needed another one. To be honest I have trouble keeping different varieties separate and telling them apart.

    1. I can't tell them apart either so I keep them in separate bags. It's a bit of work but something I'm willing to do until I try enough different varieties where I'm happy with my final choice(s) and am not constantly wondering if maybe there is something better out there.

  2. I planted garlic a couple of weeks ago and thought I was running late. But I get hit with the cold probably a week or so before you here. I bought Music for the first time at a local market Otherwise it's always been Red Russian Garlic around this area. Great info on the planting, I really need to do more soil conditioning than I do!

    1. The year before last I only added compost to the bed, thinking that was enough. It definitely wasn't!

      I've never grown Red Russian, but am looking forward to seeing how Music does for you in comparison. If Red Russian does better, I may add that to my list of varieties to try.

  3. I still need to plant my garlic. Ok, this weekend had better be dry!

    1. I hear you - lately it seems as if it is either cold and dry or warmish and raining, neither of which make it easy to work in the garden.

  4. I am planting my garlic this week. It is going to be m first time planting it and I'm very excited about it. I probably have too much for my beds but I couldn't resist all the different kinds. I use garlic in everything so it only makes sense to grow it myself.

    Janet Levis

    1. You are so right about growing it yourself. It is more than worth it especially as homegrown garlic stores extremely well. Even months after harvest, the cloves are still firm & moist...a far cry from grocery garlic that dries up within a few weeks of purchase. And like you, I always seem to end up with a few more varieties than planned ;)


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