The key to successfully watering garlic is making sure that the soil drains well. If your garlic sits in waterlogged soil for very long, it will begin to rot. Garlic needs relatively small amounts of water. No watering is necessary in the winter months when garlic is covered with mulch. If you experience little rainfall in the spring, you can water your garlic crop every couple of weeks. A light watering down to a depth of 1 inch should be sufficient. If you get reasonable rain fall every 10-14 days, watering is usually not needed. Once it begins to sprout, you can begin watering garlic with longer and deeper soaks down to a soil depth of 2-3 inches. If it has not been unseasonably dry in your area, it's usually better to water too little rather than too much. The best way to check the moisture level in the soil is to dig down about 4 inches next to the plants. You want the dirt at this depth to be moist, but not soggy. If it's too wet, let it dry out for a few days and check again. If the soil is really dry, you should go ahead and water your garlic plants.
After you pull back the mulch in the spring and the temperatures are moderate, a light application of an all purpose fertilizer can be applied every 30-40 days. Look for 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. These three numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium that are contained in that particular fertilizer, respectively. For instance, a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potassium. A 5-10-10 bag would contain 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potassium. Use your hands and sprinkle the fertilizer granules on the ground around the emerging garlic, making sure that the granules do NOT come in contact with the plants themselves. This may burn the plants or have other negative consequences. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the amount of fertilizer to apply and divide that number by half. Most fertilizers are applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Therefore, you should apply at a rate of 3/4 of a pound per 100 square feet. Try to apply the granular fertilizer a day or two before rain is expected. The rain will help the fertilizer to penetrate the soil.
Once the leaves of the garlic stalks have died back, it's time to harvest.
Click here to learn about harvesting garlic
Click here for some garlic recipe ideas
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