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How to grow garlic in Quebec

by La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024 2 comments
Comment faire pousser de l'ail au Québec - La Boite à Grains

Growing garlic in Quebec is a rewarding experience. Organic garlic grows very well in Quebec. La Boite à Grains is an excellent supplier of organic garlic, both to eat and to grow. Most of the garlic sold at La Boite à Grains is local (Outaouais). Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about growing garlic, as well as tips on how to grow it.

When to plant garlic in Quebec?

In Quebec, the ideal time to plant garlic is in autumn, generally in September or October. This allows the garlic to develop its roots over autumn and winter, and it will be ready to grow vigorously in spring.

Garlic likes a period of cold winter weather to develop well. Snow can also act as a natural protective cover for garlic plants.

In spring, your garlic will start to grow, and you'll be able to harvest it usually in late spring or early summer, when the leaves start to turn yellow and dry out. Be sure to keep an eye on your garlic's growth and maintain it by weeding and watering as needed.

You can plant in spring too, but garlic planted in autumn gives better results.

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Which garlic to plant in Quebec?

In Quebec, we recommend planting hardneck garlic because of its better adaptation to the region's cold winters. Here are a few varieties of hardneck garlic that have been popular and successful in the province of Quebec:

Variety Music Music garlic is a popular variety of hardneck garlic in Quebec. It's known for its delicious taste and resistance to cold. À La Boite à Grainsmost of the garlic you'll find is Music garlic produced by the local company Aromates & Cie.

German Red variety This hard-necked garlic variety is also well adapted to Quebec winters. It produces large bulbs and has a robust flavor.

Romanian Red variety Romanian Red is another hardneck garlic variety that grows well in Quebec. It has a strong, spicy flavor.

Purple Stripe variety Purple Stripe garlic varieties are renowned for their rich, spicy taste. They also adapt well to the Quebec climate.

Chesnok Red variety Chesnok Red is a hardneck garlic variety from Russia. It is known for its rich, sweet flavor and ability to withstand cold.

When choosing a garlic variety to plant in Quebec, be sure to check its cold hardiness and compatibility with your local climate. It's also important to source quality garlic bulblets from reputable local suppliers such as La Boite à Grains. It's also important to choose organic garlic.

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How to choose garlic seeds?

Choosing the right garlic seed is crucial to a good harvest. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best garlic seeds:

Choose varieties suited to your region: Choose garlic varieties that are well adapted to your region's climate and soil conditions. Consult local gardeners or nurseries for recommendations specific to your geographical area.

Choose healthy cloves: Garlic bulbs should be healthy, firm and free of mold, spots or disease. Avoid using diseased or damaged garlic cloves, as this can compromise the health of your crop.

Select medium to large cloves: Larger cloves tend to produce larger garlic bulbs. Look for medium to large cloves for optimum harvesting. À La Boite à GrainsAt certain times of the year, you'll find garlic specially selected for cultivation.

Choose well-separated cloves: Garlic cloves should be easy to separate from each other. Avoid buying cloves that are already fused, as this can make separation difficult and damage the cloves.

Buy from reliable sources: Buy your garlic seeds from local growers or trusted suppliers such as La Boite à Grains who offer organic, unradiated garlic. Avoid buying garlic from large supermarkets, as it is usually treated to prevent germination. Quebec garlic sold at La Boite à Grains is certified organic and untreated (radiated), which allows it to germinate. À La Boite à Grainsyou'll also find garlic specially selected for cultivation at certain times of the year.

Consider variety and taste: Each garlic variety has a slightly different taste. If you have a taste preference, find out more about the taste characteristics of the variety you're thinking of planting.

By following these tips, you should be able to choose quality garlic seeds for your garden. Once you've obtained your garlic cloves, store them in a cool, dry place until planting to maintain their viability.

La Boite à Grains is proud to offer extra-large calibre Quebec organic garlic seeds from the company Aromates & Cie (selection may vary from store to store). You can also simply use Quebec organic garlic sold at La Boite à Grains as seed.

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How do I prepare the soil for planting garlic?

Preparing the soil is an important step in planting garlic. Here are the steps to follow to prepare the soil for planting garlic:

Choose a sunny spot: Select a spot in your garden that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Garlic grows best in sunny soil.

Prepare the soil in autumn: Garlic is generally planted in autumn, around 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost on the ground. So start preparing the soil in autumn.

Remove weeds: Remove all unwanted weeds and grasses from the planting area. You can use a spade or gardening tool to remove them.

Improve soil fertility: Add well-decomposed compost or composted manure to the soil to improve its fertility. Garlic prefers soil rich in organic matter.

Loosen the soil: Use a spading fork or grelinette to loosen the soil deeply, to a depth of around 20 to 30 centimetres. This will allow the garlic roots to grow freely.

Level the soil: Once the soil has been loosened, level it to give a flat, even surface.

Add organic matter: In addition to compost or manure, you can also add organic matter in the form of decomposed leaves or straw to help maintain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Make rows or furrows: You can create rows or furrows in the soil, spaced about 30 to 40 centimetres apart, to plant garlic cloves. Be sure to space the rows at least 60 centimetres apart to allow good air circulation.

Mark the location of the cloves: Use a stick or other marker to indicate where you'll plant each garlic bulb when the time comes.

Once the soil is prepared in this way, it will be ready for fall garlic planting. Follow the instructions specific to the garlic variety you've chosen for planting depth and clove spacing. After planting, water the cloves well and add a layer of mulch to help maintain soil moisture and protect the garlic plants over winter.

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How to plant garlic?

The recommended planting distance between garlic cloves depends on several factors, including garlic variety, local growing conditions and your growing preferences. However, here's a general rule of thumb for spacing garlic cloves when planting:

Between garlic cloves in a row: The usual spacing between garlic cloves in the same row is about 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches). This allows the garlic bulbs to develop without being too cramped.

Between rows of garlic : Leave a space of about 30 to 40 centimetres (12 to 16 inches) between each row of garlic. This facilitates air circulation, helps maintain the plants and reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

Planting depth : Plant garlic cloves about 5 to 7 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) deep in the soil. The tip of the clove (the pointed side) should face upwards.

Spacing according to variety: Some garlic varieties may have specific spacing recommendations. Consult the information provided by the producer of your garlic bulbs, or look for recommendations specific to the variety you're growing.

Clove size: If the garlic cloves you have are particularly large, you can space the cloves a little further apart. If the cloves are smaller, you can plant them closer together.

Bear in mind that garlic clove spacing can influence bulb size at harvest. Wider spacing generally allows bulbs to grow larger, while narrower spacing can result in smaller bulbs. Good management of planting distance will contribute to a successful garlic harvest.

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Is it necessary to mulch the soil around garlic plants?

Mulching the soil around garlic plants is recommended, but not mandatory. Mulching has several advantages for garlic cultivation:

Moisture conservation : Mulch helps maintain uniform moisture in the soil by preventing excessive water evaporation. This is particularly beneficial during dry or hot periods.

Weed control: Mulch creates a physical barrier that limits the growth of weeds by smothering their development. This reduces the need for tedious manual weeding.

Protection against temperature variations: Mulch acts as an insulating blanket, helping to protect garlic bulbs from temperature variations. It can keep the soil cooler in summer and protect it from early frosts in autumn.

Soil splash prevention: By preventing soil splashes on garlic plants, mulch reduces the risk of disease transmission and moisture-related problems such as rot.

Improved soil fertility: Over time, mulch decomposes and adds valuable organic matter to the soil, improving its fertility.

To mulch the soil around garlic plants, you can use a variety of materials, such as straw, flax chaff, dead leaves, compost, or even dried grass clippings. Apply a layer of mulch about 5 to 7 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) thick around the garlic plants, avoiding covering the plant stems directly. Be sure to leave a space around the base of each plant to allow good air circulation.

Mulching should be applied after planting garlic in autumn. It will help maintain a favorable growing environment throughout the season and promote a successful harvest.

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How should I water garlic, and how often?

Garlic requires adequate irrigation to develop properly, but it's essential not to over-water it, as constantly soggy soil can lead to bulb rot. Here are some tips on how to water garlic and the recommended frequency:

Moderate irrigation: Garlic prefers slightly moist but well-drained soil. It's important to maintain a balance between watering enough to keep the soil moist and the risk of over-watering.

Regular watering at the beginning of the season: At the start of the growing season, when garlic plants are developing their roots and leaves, make sure the soil remains slightly moist. This can mean regular watering, especially in dry weather.

Reduce watering as harvest approaches: As garlic plants mature and harvest approaches (often in early summer), gradually reduce watering frequency. Reducing soil moisture at this stage can help prevent bulb rot.

Keep an eye on weather conditions: Adapt your watering frequency according to weather conditions. For example, during rainy spells, you can reduce or even suspend watering, while in dry spells, you may need to water more frequently.

Watering at the base of plants: When watering garlic, be sure to water at the base of the plants rather than spraying the leaves. This helps prevent the development of fungal diseases.

Watch for signs of water stress: Watch your garlic plants carefully for signs of water stress, such as leaf wilting. If you observe such signs, it's an indicator that it's time to water.

Ultimately, the key to watering garlic is to maintain adequate soil moisture throughout the growing season, adjusting frequency according to plant needs and local conditions. The aim is to obtain decent-sized garlic bulbs without the risk of rotting due to excess water.

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How to avoid weeds around garlic plants?

Weed control around garlic plants is essential to promote healthy plant growth and maximize harvest. Here are a few ways to avoid weeds around garlic plants:

Mulching: As mentioned above, using a layer of mulch around garlic plants can be very effective in smothering weeds. Use straw, dead leaves, compost or other mulch material to cover the soil. Be sure to maintain a thickness of around 5 to 7 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) for maximum effectiveness.

Manual weeding : Perform regular manual weeding sessions to eliminate weeds that manage to break through the mulch or grow between garlic plants. Use a suitable gardening tool to uproot weeds, taking care not to damage the roots of the garlic plants.

Use mulch tarpaulins: You can also use fabric mulching tarpaulins to cover the garlic planting area. These tarpaulins effectively prevent the growth of weeds, while allowing water and air to pass through to the roots of the garlic plants.

Natural herbicides : Avoid the use of chemicals by using natural herbicides, such as diluted white vinegar or baking soda, to spray weeds. Be sure not to touch the garlic plants during application, as this could damage them.

Crop rotation: Crop rotation can help reduce weed pressure. Don't plant garlic in the same area of the garden every year. By alternating crops, you can disrupt the life cycle of weeds.

Use appropriate gardening tools: Use gardening tools, such as narrow-toothed hoes, to weed effectively around garlic plants without disturbing the roots.

Avoid bringing in weed seeds: Use well-decomposed compost or composted manure to enrich the soil around garlic plants. Avoid bringing in compost or manure that contains weed seeds.

By combining these methods, you can maintain a clean environment around your garlic plants and minimize weed competition, resulting in a more successful harvest.

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What fertilizers are recommended for garlic in Quebec?

Garlic generally requires little fertilizer, but it can benefit from a light diet to promote healthy growth and an abundant harvest. Choose organic fertilizers. Here are some fertilizer options recommended for garlic in Quebec or similar regions:

Compost : Compost is a natural fertilizer source rich in organic matter. Before planting garlic, mix well-decomposed compost into the soil to improve fertility and soil structure.

Composted manure : Composted manure is another rich source of organic matter. Mix composted manure into the soil before planting, or apply it as mulch around garlic plants.

Specialized organic fertilizers for garlic: Some gardeners prefer to use fertilizers formulated specifically for garlic. You can find organic fertilizers designed for garlic in garden stores.

Foliar feeding: In addition to applying fertilizer to the soil, you can consider foliar feeding by spraying a dilute fertilizer solution onto the leaves of garlic plants. This can help deliver nutrients directly to the plants, especially if you observe signs of deficiency.

Soil test: Before applying any fertilizer, it's a good idea to have your soil tested to determine its specific nutrient requirements. A soil test can tell you the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other essential elements, enabling you to apply fertilizers more accurately.

When applying fertilizers, follow the package's specific recommendations on how much to use. Avoid overfeeding your garlic plants, as too much fertilizer can impair harvest quality. A balanced, moderate diet is generally the best approach to garlic cultivation.

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Should we cut the garlic flower?

Yes, it's generally recommended to cut off the garlic flower, also known as the "garlic scape", along with the stem when growing garlic. By removing the garlic flower, you encourage the plant to direct more energy towards growing garlic bulbs rather than producing seeds. Here are a few reasons why removing garlic flowers is beneficial:

Stimulation of bulb growth: By cutting off the top of the stems with the flower, you allow the plant to focus its energy on developing garlic bulbs, which can result in bigger, better bulbs.

Preventing seed formation: If you leave garlic flowers to develop fully, they will produce flowers and seeds. The formation of seeds can exhaust the plant and reduce the quality of the garlic bulbs.

Flavor enhancement: The scape have a delicious flavor and can be used in cooking. By cutting them, you get an extra culinary bonus while promoting bulb growth.

Reduced competition: The garlic flowers can also shade out neighboring garlic plants, leading to uneven growth. By cutting them back, you eliminate this competition for light.

To cut garlic flowersTo cut garlic flowers, wait until they have reached a length of about 15 to 20 centimetres (6 to 8 inches) and are beginning to curl slightly. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the flowers. garlic flowers near the point where they emerge from the main stem. Be careful not to damage the leaves or main stem when cutting the scapes.

Visit garlic flowers are edible and can be used in a variety of culinary preparations, including soups, salads, pestos and stir-fries. They have a slightly sweet garlic flavor and can be a delicious addition to your cooking.

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When to cut garlic flowers

The time of year to cut garlic flowers varies according to region and climate. In general, it's between late spring and early summer (mid-June). Cut the garlic flower when it makes its second turn to encourage bulb growth. 

Keep a close eye on your garlic plants and cut the garlic flowers when you feel they are at their optimum stage in terms of flavor and texture. Garlic scapes are delicious and can be used in a variety of culinary dishes, so don't hesitate to include them in your cooking.

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How do I know when garlic is ready to harvest?

Harvest garlic when 50-60% of the leaves have wilted, generally from mid-July onwards.

Knowing when garlic is ready to harvest is essential for obtaining quality bulbs. Harvest time depends on the type of garlic you're growing, but here are some general guidelines for knowing when garlic is ready to harvest:

Check the leaves: Observe the garlic leaves to determine when it's time to harvest. When two-thirds (60% to 70%) of the lower leaves have turned yellow or dried out (wilted), it's a sign that the garlic is ready to harvest. However, don't allow the leaves to become completely dry, as this can result in a loss of quality.

Check bulbs: You can also check the condition of the bulbs by gently digging up one or two of them to see if they have reached the desired size. Garlic bulbs should be well formed and compact.

Assessing bulb size: Bulb size depends on your preferences. You can harvest garlic when the bulbs are small to medium-sized for a milder flavor, or let them mature further for larger bulbs and a more pronounced flavor.

Quality assessment: Make sure the bulb skins are firm and the cloves inside are well developed. Avoid harvesting garlic with torn or damaged envelopes.


When harvesting garlic, use a spading fork or shovel to carefully dig up the bulbs, taking care not to damage them. Gently shake off excess soil and leave the garlic bulbs to dry in the shade for a few days to harden the envelopes. Then you can cut the stems and roots and store the garlic in a cool, dry place to preserve it.

Harvesting garlic at the right time is essential for quality bulbs, so keep a close eye on your plants and follow these guidelines to determine the ideal harvesting time.

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How to dry and store garlic after harvest?

After harvesting garlic, the drying and storage process is essential to ensure the longevity and quality of the bulbs. Here's how to dry and store garlic correctly:

Drying garlic

Select a suitable location: Choose a dry, cool, well-ventilated place to dry garlic. A shed, well-ventilated garage or veranda are good choices. Avoid places exposed to direct sunlight, as this can alter the garlic's flavor.

Leave stems and leaves on: Don't cut stems and leaves immediately after harvesting. Instead, tie garlic plants into small bunches or braid them together in groups of 6 to 12 plants. Leave enough stems to allow good air circulation.

Hang garlic to dry: Hang bunches or braids of garlic upside down in the area you've chosen for drying. Make sure there's enough space between the bunches to allow air to circulate freely. The ideal drying temperature is generally between 20°C and 25°C.

Leave to dry for a few weeks: Leave garlic to dry for around 2 to 3 weeks. During this time, the garlic will lose moisture, harden its outer shells and develop a more concentrated flavor.

Garlic storage

Cut stems and roots: Once the garlic is thoroughly dry, cut the stems and roots about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the bulbs.

Remove outer sheaths: You can also remove the dry outer husks from the bulbs to reveal the cleaner cloves inside.

Choose a suitable storage location: Find a cool, dry, dark place to store garlic. The ideal storage temperature is generally between 15°C and 25°C.

Use nets or canvas bags: Place garlic bulbs in nets, canvas bags or wicker baskets. Make sure air can circulate around the bulbs to prevent moisture build-up.

Check regularly: Check garlic periodically for signs of rot or sprouting. Remove damaged bulbs as soon as you spot them.

Avoid refrigerated storage: Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, as humidity and low temperatures can lead to sprout growth.

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What is the typical shelf life of garlic?

When properly dried and stored, garlic can keep for several months, or even over a year, depending on storage conditions. Garlic stored in the right conditions retains its flavor and quality.

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2 comments

11 Jul 2024 Anne Gaudet

Vraiment tout ce qu on a besoin de connaitre est là! Merci

17 Jun 2024 Emmanuel kalio

Very informative article ! Thanks .

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