It's not too late to plant garlic

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Q. I’m about to plant my garlic, hoping it’s not too late. Is it all right to plant in the same place in consecutive years?

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A. It’s not too late. I planted mine just 10 days ago — later than usual, but I waited until rain had thoroughly dampened the soil and cool fall weather had arrived. These are necessary conditions for the planted cloves to root well.

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I avoid using the same location from year to year for garlic planting. In some situations it may work, but over many years of planting garlic, I’ve used the same space as in the previous year only once. That second planting in the same site was heavily afflicted with rust — the only time I’ve ever had rust in my garlic plants.

Q. I am trying to figure out why my onion bulbs were smaller than usual this year.

A. Planting late, lean soils and overcrowding of the developing plants are common reasons for onion bulbs failing to size up nicely. Onions are known to be “greedy feeders” requiring a fertile, humus-rich, consistently well dampened soil.

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This year, the May heat wave set back many plantings, including onions, just as the young foliage was developing. Some of my young plants collapsed in the heat. I’ll have shade cloth ready to cover them next spring.

The development of strong, substantial foliage in bulb onions through the spring is needed to produce onion bulbs of a satisfactory size.

One of the first indoor seedings I make each year is onions — usually in February, for transplanting as early as conditions permit in late March or early April, to give as much time as possible for the plants to develop an abundance of foliage during the lead-up to the summer solstice in late June.

As day length begins to diminish after that, onions go into the bulb formation phase. The larger and stronger the onion foliage is at that point, the larger will be the bulbs.

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