When to Plant Garlic in New York: A Guide for Gardeners

what is the best time to plant garlic in new york

New York, known for its towering skyscrapers and iconic Statue of Liberty, may not immediately come to mind as an agricultural hotspot. However, the state’s cool autumn climate has made it a thriving hub for garlic production, ranking fifth in the country. If you’re wondering when to plant garlic in New York, this article provides insights into the ideal timing for a bountiful harvest.

The Perfect Time for Planting Garlic in New York

1. Garlic Planting: September to November

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New York’s autumn climate creates the perfect conditions for growing various cool-season vegetables, including garlic. From September to November, after the first frost, is the recommended period to plant garlic bulbs. This timing allows for proper root establishment before winter sets in. While some plants are sensitive to cold temperatures, garlic thrives with a touch of wintry weather, albeit not freezing. To determine the best time to plant garlic from cloves, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the first frost’s arrival.

Regardless of whether you’re in Melbourne, Victoria, NSW, or anywhere else, fall planting is universally recommended. This timing ensures a lengthy vegetative period, leading to robust garlic growth. Here are the frost dates for select regions in New York:

  • Albany: Last frost in the spring is typically around May 11.
  • Buffalo: Last frost occurs around May 9 in spring.
  • New York City: The final spring frost usually happens on April 3.
  • Rochester: Last frost date in spring is around May 5.
  • Syracuse: Final spring frost occurs around May 6.
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For more information on the optimal garlic planting time in other states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio, check out our article on the Ames Farm Center website.

2. Sowing Garlic Seeds: Temperature Matters

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Garlic thrives in colder weather, and planting time coincides with the drop in temperature. When the thermometer reads at least 50°F, you can start planting winter garlic. However, it’s best to keep the temperature range between 32-50°F for optimal growth. Avoid planting garlic during hot summer months, as it can hinder their development. Once garlic matures, it’s time to harvest in August or around mid-July in Western NY. Proper curing at temperatures between 60-90°F in a well-ventilated room is crucial for preserving the quality of your garlic bulbs.

Selecting the Ideal Garlic Varieties for New York

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New York’s varying climates make it suitable for both cold-tolerant hardneck and softneck garlic varieties. If you reside in cooler regions within zones 3-5, opt for cold-tolerant hardnecks like Rocamboles. These hardy garlic varieties produce sizeable bulbs with a delightful taste. Porcelains are another excellent choice since they adapt well to different climates, making them a versatile option for any region in New York.

In warmer areas spanning zones 6-7, consider softneck varieties such as Silverskin. With a firm clove structure, Silverskin thrives in zone 7 and 6 climates. If you prefer larger bulbs that are easy to separate, the Artichoke variety is an excellent option.

Where to Buy Garlic Bulbs for Planting

To ensure the best results, it’s advisable to purchase garlic bulbs from reputable growers. These specialized suppliers offer fresh, untreated bulbs. Avoid using supermarket garlic, which often contains chemicals that hinder growth and can jeopardize your harvest.

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Planting Garlic in New York: A Step-by-Step Guide

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When planting garlic in New York, it’s essential to avoid planting it alongside onions, as both plants are susceptible to the same diseases. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a garlic variety suitable for your climate zone.
  2. Prepare the soil by ensuring it is well-drained and rich in organic matter.
  3. Separate garlic bulbs into individual cloves, ensuring they remain intact.
  4. Plant each clove approximately two inches deep and six inches apart, with the pointed end facing upwards.
  5. Space rows about a foot apart to provide adequate air circulation.
  6. Water your garlic plants regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
  7. Apply a layer of mulch once heavy frost becomes a possibility.
  8. Monitor your plants, keeping an eye out for pests or diseases.
  9. Harvest your garlic when the foliage turns yellow, usually around eight months after planting.

Is February Too Late to Plant Garlic in New York?

Contrary to popular belief, February is not too late to plant garlic in New York. You can still grow garlic four to six weeks before the last frost date, which in New York City is typically around April 3. Counting four to six weeks backward, you can plant as late as February 20 to March 6. However, keep in mind that spring planting may result in lower yields, so it’s generally better to wait until fall.

How Long Does Garlic Take to Grow?

On average, garlic takes approximately eight months to grow and mature. Once you notice the foliage turning yellow, it’s a sign that your garlic is ready for harvest.

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Conclusion

Growing garlic in New York is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Whether you live in a cold or warm zone, you can find suitable garlic varieties to plant. Remember to time your planting between September and November, allowing for proper root establishment before winter arrives. With the information provided in this guide, you are now equipped to embark on your garlic-growing journey. Visit Ames Farm Center for more gardening tips and guidance.

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