Mastering Garlic Growing in Wisconsin: Knowing the Right Planting and Harvesting Time

Mastering Garlic Growing in Wisconsin: Knowing the Right Planting and Harvesting Time

You’re ready to spice up your Wisconsin garden with the pungent allure of garlic, but you’re unsure when to plant? You’re not alone. Timing is everything in gardening, and garlic is no exception.

In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery of when to plant garlic in the Badger State. We’ll also delve into the factors that make Wisconsin’s climate unique and how it impacts your garlic planting schedule. So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a green-thumbed newbie, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s prepare to infuse your garden, and your kitchen, with the robust flavor of home-grown garlic.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Wisconsin’s climate, known for its humid continental climate with full spectrum of seasons, is vital when planning to plant garlic. The optimal growth conditions for garlic are found during the warm summer months, with the winter being a dormancy period due to the cold and lack of sunlight.
  • The garlic growing cycle fits perfectly into Wisconsin’s climate. The Planting phase begins in the chilly autumn, followed by the Leafing stage in spring, Bulbing in the summer, Maturation, and finally, Harvest in mid-summer.
  • The best time to plant garlic in Wisconsin is during the fall, specifically in October. This aligns with the garlic’s natural cycle, taking advantage of the cooler weather in Wisconsin to establish roots before the spring thaw.
  • Planting steps include site selection, preparing garlic cloves from a trusted source, planting cloves 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart, and applying a mulch layer for winter protection. It’s suggested to avoid spring planting, as this often results in smaller bulbs.
  • Garlic requires meticulous care during the Wisconsin winter. This includes proper covering with mulch, routinely checking for correct placement and overall plant health, and spring preparation plans.
  • Harvesting should be done in July, when signs such as yellowing and dying off of the lower leaves are observed. This is followed by a proper curing process in well-ventilated, dark area and correct storage to ensure longevity.

Wisconsin’s climate presents unique challenges and opportunities for growing garlic. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension provides essential tips for planting and caring for garlic in the state, including the best times for planting to avoid winter freeze and spring thaw. GrowVeg offers additional advice on soil preparation and watering practices that are crucial for garlic cultivation in cooler climates.

Understanding Wisconsin’s Climate

Comprehending the climate in Wisconsin holds significance, chiefly tied to your endeavors in planting garlic. Dominated by a humid continental climate, Wisconsin experiences a full spectrum of seasons, each distinguished by particular features.

In the summer months, temperatures in Wisconsin commonly hover between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, from June to August. With ample sunlight, summer brings ideal conditions for the growth of a wide range of plants, making it a busy period for gardening enthusiasts. Garlic crucially encounters a growth boost, attributing to the consistent, warm weather.

Contrastingly, the Wisconsin winter commences in late November, easily identifiable with its colder temperatures and increased snowfall. This period, extending until February, often experiences temperatures falling well below freezing, frequently to as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme cold and lack of sunlight during this season imply dormancy for most plant life, including garlic. The harsh conditions make it impossible for any kind of plantation to thrive outdoors.

Spring and fall act as transitional seasons, functioning as intermediaries between the extremes of summer and winter. During these periods, there’s a gradual change in temperatures and sunlight, accounting for a varied range of plant growth and activity.

Moreover, the state’s average annual rainfall at around 34 inches also plays a crucial role in determining the growing season for garlic. This precipitation, primarily occurring in spring and summer, ensures adequate soil moisture required for optimal garlic growth.

Recognizing these climatic nuances, you can develop a more precise and efficient timeline for planting garlic in Wisconsin. By aligning your planting schedule with the state’s climate, your garlic crops stand a better chance of flourishing.

The Life Cycle of Garlic

The Life Cycle of Garlic

Now that you’ve grasped Wisconsin’s climate intricacies, let’s delve into garlic’s life cycle, a key aspect for your successful cultivation in this state. Garlic, a perennial bulb, stages up in a lifecycle split into five phases, each critical to the resulting yield.

Firstly, you’ve got the Planting phase. This happens around autumn in colder climates. The cloves, buried about 2 inches deep, leverage the cold weather to induce growth. Wisconsin, with its chilly fall, fits this requirement perfectly. During winter, the cloves embed themselves in the ground, developing strong roots underground amid the cold.

Following the rooting stage is the Leafing stage. Around spring, tiny green shoots sprout from the ground, employing the warming temperatures to establish a robust photosynthesis process. Wisconsin’s transition from a freezing winter to a mild spring provides optimal conditions for these shoots to emerge and expand.

Fast forward to summer, and you arrive at the Bulbing stage. A steady increase in daylight hours sparks the transformation of leafy photosynthetic energy into an enlarging below-ground bulb. Apps like “Garlic Clock” can help track daylight hours, ensuring Wisconsin’s ample summer sunlight is maximized.

As the summer peaks, the subsequent phase, Maturation, sets in. This is when the plant’s one-piece bulb separates into individual cloves. The green leaves start yellowing, signaling it’s nearly harvest time in Wisconsin. This leads you into the final Harvest stage, often wrapped up by mid-summer. Wisconsin’s early garlic harvest aligns well with the state’s peak summer period.

Don’t neglect the importance of the drying and curing subset of the harvest stage. Hang the harvested bulbs in a shaded, ventilated space for two to three weeks, ensuring their long-term preservation.

Understanding garlic’s life cycle aids in aligning your planting strategy with Wisconsin’s diverse climates, tuning your cultivation towards a bountiful yield.

When to Plant Garlic in Wisconsin

When to Plant Garlic in Wisconsin

Planting garlic in Wisconsin is best in fall, typically in October. This timing aligns with the annual cycle of garlic, as fall planting allows for winter rooting-critical for garlic growth. As you’ve learned in the previous section about the life cycle of garlic, each phase is influenced by Wisconsin’s climate.

In specific terms, garlic prefers the cooler weather conditions found in Wisconsin’s fall months, where the ground doesn’t freeze, and the cloves have enough time to grow roots. The fall months, particularly October, marks the beginning of the rooting phase for garlic, setting the journey from rooting through greening, bulbing, and maturation.

Naturally, an October planting caters to garlic’s preference for its tackling process. In this phase, the cloves utilize the cold weather to establish roots, thereby making sure that they’re prepared when the warmer spring weather arrives signaling greening and subsequent bulbing phase.

However, there’s a caveat; you mustn’t wait too late into the season. Fall in Wisconsin implies colder weather, yes, but extreme cold isn’t ideal for garlic. If cloves are in the ground when freezing weather sets in, they may get damaged. Hence, October is your ideal time, ensuring that cloves are settled into the soil before the first freeze typically hits Wisconsin.

While spring planting isn’t impossible, it usually results in smaller bulbs. Garlic planted in spring misses the perfect window for substantial root growth during Wisconsin’s cold winter months. This discrepancy has an impact on the size and delicacy of garlic bulbs.

Equipped with understanding garlic’s life cycle and Wisconsin’s climate-suitable timings, you can optimize your garlic production by timely planting in October. It’s your golden opportunity to accommodate garlic’s growing needs with Wisconsin’s diverse seasons.

Planting Garlic: Step-by-Step Guide

Anchoring your planting regimen in Wisconsin’s varied seasons, here’s a concise step-by-step guide to get your garlic in the ground.

First, select a viable site, emphasizing full-sun exposure. Soil conditions play a crucial role in garlic cultivation. It prefers well-drained soil, enhanced with compost if it’s heavy clay or sandy.

Next, prepare your garlic cloves for planting. Use quality garlic bulbs from a trusted source, avoiding supermarket varieties. Split a bulb into cloves, judiciously selecting those with size, discarding any that seem unhealthy.

Then, get your cloves into the ground. Following Wisconsin’s fall planting recommendations, around October, plant cloves around 2 inches deep, high-end up. Space them about 4-6 inches apart to provide ample room for growth. It facilitates optimal root development amid Wisconsin’s cooler months.

Cover the planted cloves with soil, and apply a mulch layer of straw or leaves about 4-6 inches thick. Mulching helps insulate the newly planted cloves against extreme winter cold.

Finally, sit back and wait through the winter months patiently. Garlic roots will start establishing, gaining a foothold under the soil’s surface. By spring, you’ll witness sprouting and the following summer beginning of bulbing.

Remember, spring planting, though possible, generally results in smaller bulbs due to lost root growth opportunities that winter provides. Therefore, adhering to fall planting, specifically in October, offers the best outcome for garlic growth in Wisconsin.

Take note, cultivating garlic not only involves selecting an optimal planting time but also crackdown on each step meticulously. Proper site selection, appropriate bulb choice, accurate planting depth, and efficient use of mulch can considerably influence the final yield. So, stick to this guide and optimize your Wisconsin garlic production.

Caring for Your Garlic during the Wisconsin Winter

After carrying out your October planting, attention then shifts to proper garlic care through the winter. Keep in mind, Wisconsin winters can be harsh. It’s essential to remember these three core practices: covering, checking, and planning. Incorporate them into your winter care routine to ensure a healthy, productive garlic grow.

Covering Your Garlic

Garlic plants need sufficient coverage during winter. Mulching acts as a protective layer, mitigating the effects of freezing temperatures. Add a 4 to 6-inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw or leaves, to your garlic beds. It helps preserve moisture from the soil, reducing the risk of dehydration during frosty seasons. Remember, consistency in mulching guarantees plant root’s warmth, regardless of the weather changes. Mulch acts as a blanket, providing insulation while also preventing the emergence of unwanted weeds.

Checking Your Garlic

Throughout the Wisconsin winter, routinely check on your garlic to monitor its condition. While a thick layer of mulch combats the winter chill, extreme weather, specifically heavy snowfall, might threaten the plant’s growth. Subsequently, monitor for signs of heaving, where sporadic thawing and freezing cycles may push the cloves upward. If you notice this, delicately push them back into the soil and add more mulch for protection.

Planning Your Spring Routine

While still navigating winter, start planning your spring routine in advance. Prepare to remove some of the mulching layer when the threat of hard frost passes. This change gives your garlic the freedom to sprout come spring. Get ready to watch for those telltale green shoots, signaling that your garlic is off to a good start.

Taking care of your garlic during the Wisconsin winter involves these critical practices. However, flexibility remains paramount as the weather could necessitate adjustments in your care routine. Respecting garlic’s specific needs and adjusting as necessary enhances your garlic’s overall performance, affecting the end yield positively.

Harvesting Garlic in Wisconsin

Harvesting Garlic in Wisconsin

Transitioning smoothly from the winter care procedures, the next critical phase in your garlic’s life cycle – the harvest – takes center stage. Garlic harvesting typically occurs in July, about eight months after planting in Wisconsin’s climate. Observing your crop for visual cues from the plant is paramount, like the yellowing and dying off of the lower leaves, indicating its readiness for harvest.

Prompt extraction from the ground can help prevent bulb splitting, a common issue if garlic is left in the ground too long. Use a garden fork delicately, loosening soil around the bulbs. It’s crucial not to damage them during the extraction as it may reduce their storage life.

Once harvested, clean the soil off the bulbs and bundle the plants together. Leave the roots, stems, and leaves intact; they play a vital role in the curing process. Garlic curing involves air-drying the bulbs under consistent ventilation and low humidity for approximately 3 weeks. A dark, well-ventilated area such as a garage, shed, or covered porch can serve as an ideal spot for curing.

To optimally cure your garlic, lay the bulbs out or hang them up, keeping mind that air circulation is key. Avoid contact with direct sunlight as this can cause the bulbs to turn green or develop off-flavors. During the curing period, leave your harvested garlic undisturbed; this is crucial for it to dry out completely, thus enhancing its shelf life.

Following the curing process, trim off roots and the top stem about an inch above the bulb. Store your cleaned, cured garlic in a cool, dark, and dry place. A mesh bag or a paper bag can work well for storage, with steady air flow to maintain the bulbs’ freshness.

Stay mindful that overall garlic health, including size, taste, and longevity, relies heavily on the care and attention given during these steps. Proper harvesting, curing, and storing procedures lay the groundwork for a healthy garlic crop in Wisconsin. By understanding and implementing this knowledge, you stand to reap high returns from your garlic venture.


So you’ve got it all down now. Planting garlic in Wisconsin isn’t just about digging a hole and dropping a clove. It’s about timing, understanding the garlic growth cycle, and preparing for winter. You know that October is your go-to month for planting. You’ve learned the importance of site selection, winter care, and how to spot when your garlic is ready for harvesting. You’re aware of the need for careful extraction to prevent damage and the curing process to enhance storage. Remember, your commitment to these steps will directly affect your garlic’s size, taste, and shelf life. Now it’s time to put this knowledge into action. Happy garlic growing, Wisconsin!

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to plant garlic in Wisconsin?

The optimal timing for garlic planting in Wisconsin is believed to be October. This takes advantage of the winter season for suitable garlic rooting.

Why is understanding the phases of garlic growth important?

Understanding the growth phases allows for timely care and interventions, ensuring the garlic grows healthily and optimally according to Wisconsin’s climate.

What does the article provide about garlic planting?

The article provides a detailed, step-by-step guide on planting garlic, from selecting an appropriate site to winter care practices.

How can I identify if my garlic is ready for harvesting?

Garlic readiness for harvesting can be identified through visual cues such as browning and drying of lower leaves.

How should I extract the garlic?

Garlic should be extracted delicately to prevent bulb splitting which can affect its quality and storage life.

What is the importance of curing process for garlic?

The curing process ensures optimal storage conditions, increasing the harvested garlic’s size, taste, and longevity. It is an essential step for a successful garlic harvest.

What factors affect garlic crop’s health in Wisconsin?

Proper timing, meticulous harvesting, thorough curing, and accurate storing procedures majorly impact a garlic crop’s health, size, taste, and longevity in Wisconsin.