Tennessee has a suitable climate for growing cool-weather crops. However, it’s still essential to sow garlic bulbs here at the right time so that they can put down roots and get ready for clove formation once spring comes.
Regarding when to plant garlic in Tennessee, September 1 to November 1 would be ideal for east TN, while residents in western parts of the state will see better results with a September 15 to November 15 planting.
Another possible but less ideal option is to sow garlic bulbs in the spring in March and April, but you risk having fewer cloves to collect if you skip the vernalization process.
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Best Time to Plant Garlic in Tennessee
1. In the fall, from September to November
The best time for growing garlic in Tennessee is two weeks after the first frost date. This timeline allows the plant to undergo vernalization before commencing flower and bulb development come spring.
To determine your gardening date, you can refer to the average first frost for different hardiness zones in Tennessee below.
- Zone 5 – October 13 to 21
- Zone 6 – October 17 to 31
- Zone 7 – October 29 to November 15
- Zone 8 – November 7 to 28
Alternatively, look up the first frost estimate where you live and do some quick calculation. For example, Franklin, TN, welcomes freezing weather on October 25, making November 8 the average planting date here.
2. In the spring, in March and April (after stratification)
If you cannot plant garlic in the fall, consider growing it in the spring instead. In this scenario, you should stratify the bulbs in the fridge by putting them in a mason jar or plastic bag with potting soil.
After six to ten weeks of chilling under a temperature of 40 to 50℉, the bulbs can be removed from the fridge and planted in the spring when the soil has warmed up and frost has thawed.
Though it’s possible to direct-sow garlic without stratification, the lack of cold treatment means you’ll have one big bulb and no cloves.
Tips for Successful Garlic Planting in Tennessee
Tennessee residents can plant both softneck and hardneck garlic. Some types of garlic plants or varieties suitable for the state are: Chesnok Red, German Red, Purple Glazer, Inchelium Red, and California White.
Softneck bulbs have a longer storage time but are less cold-hardy than their hardneck counterparts, so they will be better for spring planting and higher hardiness zones.
You may come across elephant garlic (which is also suitable for Tennessee), but this is a type of leek instead and will produce only one clove in its first season.
Varieties aside, here are some garlic planting tips growers should follow.
- Buy seed garlic from farms or nurseries rather than treated supermarket bulbs. Seed garlic has better quality and has not been given chemicals to prevent germination.
- For the planting location, pick loose, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8 to 5.
- If the ground is too soggy and full of silt or clay, put garlic in raised beds with a depth of ten inches and a width of two feet.
- You should also sow the garlic two inches deep and four inches apart from each other. The circular part of the cloves should touch the soil so that the plant can form roots.
- Most importantly, give the garlic six to eight hours of full sun per day and an inch of water per week without making the ground soggy.
- Fertilize the plant using a 5-10-10 prior to sowing and with additional nitrogen once the shoots are six inches tall. Opt for blood meal or chicken manure for the best results.
We hope this article showed you when to plant garlic in Tennessee, so you can harvest it in late summer and fall in a timely manner.
To sum up, sow garlic cloves when the weather is cool and the ground is workable. Choose firm bulbs with bigger sizes for the best yield, and cut off the flower scapes on your hardneck plants when they appear to ensure optimal growth.
Read more about the optimal planting schedule for vegetables in Tennessee:
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