November 19, 2019

Extreme Gardening

Have you ever planted garlic late? Really late? What happened?

I went to the garden with a shovel yesterday morning, hoping to dig some carrots and potatoes. I also wanted to see what our late-planted garlic was doing.

Once at the garden I raised my shovel to take my first dig. Expecting a solid "chunk" sound, I instead heard a resounding "ting". 

The ground was frozen.

While I have chopped carrots out of frozen ground in the past (they were perfectly fine), it is not an activity I cherish. I stood down, and went back inside.

This year our garden got off to a slow start. We weren't even sure if we would plant a garden, thinking that we might move to our own place before harvest. With our house hunt progressing slowly, we decided to do a quick plant late June.

Anticipating a possible move, we did not plant garlic last fall. So we engaged in an experiment to see what would happen if we planted a very late crop. We hoped for a warm fall to extend the growing season.

While it has been generally warmish so far, we have had nights of frost and below freezing temperatures, interspersed by days of rain. Our kale, and the garlic, responded to cold by wilting, but both toughed it out and bounced right back as it warmed up.

The garlic is still small, and it never did put up scapes, an indication of the time to harvest the bulbs. We remain hopeful.

I pulled one a week ago to see what was going on underground. The bottom looked more like a leek than a garlic bulb. I plunked it back in the ground.

This week looks like it will be warm, so we will leave the garlic to mature some more. It could continue to be warm through December, if we are lucky.

Regardless, I have read that garlic is good to use at almost any stage of growth. 

I just have to make sure that when I go to harvest I hear "chunk" instead of "ting, ting, ting".

That's extreme gardening.


  1. Anonymous11/19/2019

    Don't forget you can eat the shoots - which in my humble opinion is the best bit of this amazing plant.

    1. That is good to know. We figured we could not lose by planting garlic at any time. To plant, or not to plant? Plant! We are looking forward to trying this for the first time.

  2. Anonymous11/19/2019

    I didn't know you could eat the shoots of garlic, thanks for the tip, Alex!

    Gregg, fingers crossed that the upcoming warm weather thaws your ground a bit for harvesting, and growing.

    - Mary

    1. Anonymous11/20/2019

      They taste a bit different from spring onions, but very nice.

    2. Our soil did not stay frozen for too long, I just timed it wrong. It is raining and just above zero now, and I went out to test the soil - nice and soft. Harvest continues.

  3. Anonymous11/19/2019

    I have planted garlic late but our temperatures only get down to about minus 12 centigrade (about 10.4 F). Perhaps you could experiment and harvest some young, and leave the rest and see what happens. I have frozen garlic successfully so I imagine the bulbs under the ground will be okay. If it starts dying back and producing seed heads you will probably need to pick it.


    1. We have decided to leave some in the ground to see how it goes in the spring. It will be some early welcome greenery.

  4. I was so happy to get the garden put away and now I am anxious for next year.


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