When to plant garlic in South Carolina depends on the region, but it typically is during the fall months from September 15th to November 15th to achieve full development.
Garlic is susceptible to extremely cold weather and cannot survive temperatures under 40℉.
Planting them too early or too late would yield little to no harvest, so you must pay attention to the first and last frost dates in your region. Continue reading to find out the average dates and more.
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Best Time to Plant Garlic in South Carolina
Growing garlic in the South isn’t an exact science but the general rule is to watch out for the dates of first and last frost.
The dates stated below are only averages but you’re ready to plant garlic seeds if you see no frost outside for two weeks.
|Last Frost Date
|First Frost Date
We already know the best garlic planting times are during fall. But why is the planting calendar for South Carolina in that season?
It is a cool-season crop and when you plant garlic bulbs in the early days of fall, they have time to get their roots deep in soil to fully mature.
Indoors or Outdoors?
Growing garlic in South Carolina can be quite a challenge because of fluctuating temperatures. There is also the option of whether you should be planting garlic in pots indoors or letting them thrive outdoors in raised beds.
Each method has its pros and cons.
- Growing garlic in pots indoors allows you to have more control over the environment. Think of perfect conditions, with consistent temperatures and pest deterrents. However, you won’t get entire heads of garlic.
Indoor garlic will yield you sprouts or greens at the most. If you’re looking for the full experience and want garlic heads, you can only get them when you plant outdoors.
- Planting outdoors gives your garlic the full experience. Most importantly, it gets to soak in winter temperatures which is the key factor in the garlic going to seed and growing scapes. These are curly, flower stalks that produce the head.
However, growing garlic outdoors comes with its own set of challenges. You leave your garlic exposed to natural elements, particularly freezing temperatures. There are also pests and other critters to worry about. Not to mention, whether you have the space.
Of course, there are measures you can take to offset those disadvantages and protect your garlic which we’ll discuss in the next section.
No matter your choice, just remember that garlic thrives in organic-rich, sandy, loamy soil (pH levels: 6-7) that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day. You also want to plant it 4 inches deep in soil with a temperature of 50℉.
Caring and Harvesting Garlic in SC
We’ve discussed when to plant, now we’re going to talk about how to care for and harvest garlic. Here are some essential tips to help your garlic survive and thrive:
- Hardneck garlic varieties are planted with the pointed ends upward while the rooted ends point downward because planting them with points down dramatically reduces yield by 30%.
- With softneck cloves, their planting orientation doesn’t matter and they will still grow which makes them most suitable for mechanical planting.
Watering and Mulching
- Garlic likes its soil moist but it will rot in waterlogged soil which is why well-draining soil is one of your priorities.
- You have better chances of a good harvest if your garlic is mulched. Organic materials like straw and leaves help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the soil.
Nitrogen-rich fertilizer is best for garlic but don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with lush foliage but smaller bulbs.
- Weed pressure has adverse effects on the yield and bulb size of garlic so it’s best to weed between 5-8 times throughout the season depending on your weed situation.
- Be gentle and careful, though, as garlic plants have shallow roots, and any root cut during weeding will not grow back.
- Harvesting garlic seeds require a keen eye especially since South Carolina is infamous for inconsistent temperatures.
- The rule of thumb is to harvest when the lower leaves start to turn yellow and dry out. You should dig, not pull, to check.
- If they’re ready for harvest, use a garden fork or shovel to loosen up the soil around them.
- Practice caution in this step since you don’t want to bruise or cut them. If you did cut up a bulb, use it immediately since it’s not viable for storage anymore.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of garlic grows best in South Carolina?
You have two options here:
- Softneck garlic is perfect for the weather in the South. It also excels in storage and versatility and is ideal for braiding. While they have smaller cloves, you get milder and longer-lasting flavors.
- Hardneck garlic, on the other hand, might have trouble with SC’s mild winters, but it is known for its scapes and robust flavor.
Is it too late to plant garlic now in SC?
Remember that garlic requires cool temperatures and sufficient time to grow. It’s best to start planting when autumn comes from September to November so you still have a few more months left for preparation.
Exactly when to plant garlic in South Carolina will depend on the first and last frost dates. Pay close attention to weather changes in your area. For most varieties and specifically for the climate in South Carolina, fall is the prime season for garlic.
Whether you want to embrace an all-natural experience by planting outdoors or opt for indoor cultivation for better control, remember that watering, fertilization, and weed control are also key to a bountiful harvest.
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