NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Smell of Garlic has Gardeners Anticipating Fall Planting

LAS CRUCES -- When it comes to growing garlic, New Mexico may not be number one, but there are enough garlic lovers in the state to welcome the fall planting season.

"Nearly 90 percent of the garlic produced in the United States comes from California, but it is easily grown in New Mexico home gardens," said George Dickerson, horticulturist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "Garlic remains one of the most important herbs used in various ethnic cuisines today."

Fall is the ideal time to plant garlic in New Mexico, he said. The most popular variety, California Early, has a segmented bulb with a number of cloves, which are individually removed and planted one to three inches deep and four to six inches apart.

The basal end of the clove, where it was attached to the bulb, should point down, he said. The larger the clove, the bigger the bulb will be the following summer.

"Like tulip bulbs, cloves planted in the fall swell and develop roots before winter sets in," Dickerson said. "It's important that the soil be well-fortified with phosphorous fertilizer. Growth begins again early the next spring, which is a good time to give plants a shot of nitrogen fertilizer to encourage good leaf growth."

Garlic leaves begin to dry up in mid-June, which means the bulbs are fairly well-developed, he said. Bulbs can be harvested with a garden fork, brushed gently to remove dirt, then allowed to cure for a few days in the shade to toughen the skin for storage.