First Garlic Emerging in Spring April 15, 2015 12:36


As with every year, spring finally comes and most of us on the Canadian prairies can't believe we survived another winter. Once our bodies thaw out from the freeze, we start thinking about more exciting things like our gardens, the farmers market and warm summer days to come.

One of my favourite things to do in spring is to dig up a few garlic cloves to make sure that they survived the winter and check on root growth. It's always a relief to find cloves that are firm and white with nice thick roots. In exposed areas that don't have enough snow cover, our garlic sometimes has winter kill. The roots are usually shriveled up and the cloves have turned a yellow/orange translucent colour. If you see this, it basically means that your garlic froze to death.

Although it's nice to know that the garlic survived the winter, the most exciting time for me is when the soil has warmed up enough for the first garlic plants to start popping out of the ground. On our farm, that can be anytime from mid-April to early-May depending on the year.


This year, the weather warmed up very early in spring and our first garlic plants started emerging on April 12th. Most of the garlic is still underground, but a few varieties decided it's time to get growing.

The first variety out of the ground on our farm this season is a softneck type called Purple Artichoke. It's from British Columbia, so we weren't sure how well it would perform here on the prairies. It seems to survive our winters very well, has great root growth and it starts growing early in spring. We'll see how it does over the rest of the summer.

As for our other varieties, many have good root growth but are just starting to send up the first leaf and should be fully emerging over the next week or two. Many of our Porcelain varieties seem to be taking their time, however they are vigorous growers and will make up for it once warmer weather comes.