There isn’t a whole hell of a lot to be done in a garden in November but the one thing you can do is plant the garlic you should have planted a couple of weeks ago.  I know that around the middle of October is technically the time to plant this cooking favourite but I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually accomplished this task.  I plant it when I have time which tends to be the end of October or the beginning of November.

how and when to plant garlic


I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about planting garlic (even though it’s ridiculously easy) because I wrote an entire post on it here.  I just wanted to remind you that if you haven’t planted it and you always vow to grow your own but forget about it, GET OUT THERE AND PLANT GARLIC.  It’s the weekend.  Now’s your chance to prove that you’ve got it together.  That you’re a geterdone kindda person.

I will give you a few tips before you run out and start planting willy nilly.

  1.  Buying “official” garlic for planting from a nursery or seed store isn’t the only way to go but it’s the best way to go. It will be certified disease free and guaranteed to grow well in your climate.  I grow a variety of types but my two favourites are Music and Russian Red, both of which are available on Amazon. Which kind of surprised me.  Russian Red is hands down the best “keeper” I’ve ever grown.
  2. You can also just go and buy garlic from a grocery store and plant it.  The Internet is always warning us that planting vegetables this way is risky because they may have been treated with a sprout inhibitor that stops them from growing, but bulbs from the grocery store have always sprouted and grown just fine for me.  It’s a great route to take if  you can’t find certified garlic, plus it’s also WAY cheaper.
  3. You can plant a LOT of bulbs in a small space so even if you don’t have a dedicated vegetable garden you can still stick garlic in your regular flower beds. They grow tall and straight and make a great border or bunch that can mimic ornamental grasses.

There are 2 main reasons I grow my own garlic.  The first is so I can make garlic scape pesto every summer.  I am completely ruined for regular pesto because of garlic scape pesto.  You can read my recipe here. Scapes are the long swirly things that grow up out of the middle of the garlic leaves a few weeks before it’s ready to harvest.  If left on the plant they would eventually grow a flower with tiny bulbettes.  But this takes energy away from forming the bulb of garlic underneath the soil so we garlic growers pinch the scapes off once they get to a certain point.  Scapes have a very short season and aren’t cheap to buy if you can even manage to find them.

Honestly.  Even if it’s ONLY for the scape pesto you can make, that’s reason enough to grow your own garlic.


how to braid garlid


The second reason you should grow your own garlic is so you can make braids.  I say this as someone who used to make garlic braids, but now just throws all my heads into a net bag.  But I did it for many years using this braiding method.  

There are people who swear that they can tell a difference in the taste of different varieties of garlic but whenever I eat garlic I only taste garlic.  However whenever I taste wine all I taste is wine.  Ditto for beer.  Potato chips as we all know are incredibly complex and easily identifiable and nuanced. But you really do have to spend years training to be able to tell the differences in potato chips from various regions and cooked in different fats. It’s kind of an upper class thing to get into.  That’s why potato chip sommelier is such a popular career choice among the upper crust.

Gentle reminder before I go … if you missed it, The Christmas Pledge started a couple of days ago.  Sign up for the Pledge and the private Facebook page if you haven’t yet.

Have a good weekend!




  1. Julie says:

    I set aside the 10 biggest and most beautiful garlic bulbs I harvested. I braided the rest. I worried we would run out of garlic. But still saved the biggest to plant.
    And I forgot to plant it! It’s sitting in the basement waiting to be planted.
    We have had two really cold nights. It’s going to be warmer in a few days. I may till the soil and plant my garlic.

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Hey Karen!…I was wondering if you could plant garlic inside in flower pots???…Just a thought!

    • Karen says:

      Um, no, lol. I mean, you technically could but you wouldn’t get bulbs. Garlic needs a period of dormancy to develop bulbs the same way tulips do. On the other hand wouldn’t it be fun for you to prove me wrong. ;) ~ karen!

  3. Linda Wade says:

    Can I grow garlic inside and not out in the garden? I grow peppers on my glass back porch and they do well.

  4. Terry says:

    I’m completely off topic here but I’m really upset. A few months ago, right after I came back from visiting my son, somebody on here mentioned the Aberfoyle Antique Market. I kept that in mind for my next trip to Guelph and wouldn’t you know last weekend was the end of the season. Grrrrr.

  5. Deb says:

    Huh, I was always told (by my dad, the unofficial expert in garlic in our neck of the woods!) that you have to make sure you have ‘winter’ garlic, not ‘summer’ garlic, for planting this time of year. So the garlic I harvested in July? I use that to plant in the Fall (this Sunday, to be precise). I thought there was garlic that you can plant in the spring, and harvest in the Fall, but it was different than (this maybe mythical?) winter garlic?

  6. Leisa says:

    Thanks for the reminder! Just drove all over hell’s half acre to find some good bulbs to plant this afternoon!!!

  7. Speckhen says:

    My partner’s 115 cloves were planted 2 weeks ago. I have to give a shout out to the Lee Valley bulb digger, the one that looks like a shovel but has the round punch shape (radius brand?). The shape means you step on the tool to create the bulb holes – extremely helpful to me too as I nestled 100 daffodil and 50 tulip bulbs in the ground. Seriously, one of the best tools ever for garlic growers.

  8. Ha, I JUST bought a bag at the grocery store yesterday for this very reason. I knew I was never gonna make it to a nursery in time. I’m planning on getting them all in the ground today….it’s a perfect job for the kids, too!

  9. Ron says:

    Every year I get jumbo garlic bulbs for planting at the Brant County Garlic Company booth during the Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival in late September. Biggest and best tasting garlic ever.

  10. Tarra says:

    My rule is the garlic has to in by Halowe’en but thats just superstitious. You’ll get a better & healthier crop planting bulbs sourced in your general area rather than the import stuff; too late for this now, but next time grab some nice heads in Aug & Sept from your local farmer’s market as well as put aside a few of your own best from the current crop.

  11. Sabina says:

    We are sharing the same weather so I planted mine about 10 days ago right after we got back from vacation. I planted Music again and two new ones, Killarney Red and Krasnador. I love just being able to pop down to the basement to grab a head of garlic. Going to try my hand at braiding it one of these years!

  12. Gayle M says:

    Thanks for reminding me, Karen–I had planted my bulbs in planter boxes and pots on Wednesday. ( Brand new vegetable garden beds are covered already for the winter–feral cat thinks we constructed a public restroom out there for him. Caught him once, not gonna happen twice!) After cleaning up and settiing down for a hot cup of tea, I noticed my bulb of garlic still on the counter. Argh! I purchased it at my local farmers market. Guess who’ll be finding another planter box today?

  13. danni says:

    Mine were put in a few weeks ago…. before two back to back monster rains. And still warm. I’m hoping that my being on top of things for once doesn’t bite me in the ass by rotting them due to being too wet. Ahhhh the excitement of gardening! Some people just don’t understand the thrill! :D

  14. Alice says:

    What about shallots? Do you grow it and if so when do you plant?
    Thanks for the reminder about garlic. At the rate I’m going, I wouldn’t have even thought about garlic until next year!

    • Karen says:

      I’ve only grown shallots twice and for some reason never bothered to again, but yes they can go in now as well. Or in the early, early spring when the ground can be worked. They’re a bit more forgiving than garlic that way. ~ karen!

  15. Jo says:

    Just one word for those who aspire to the status of potato chip sommelier – Ruffles. (drops mike)

  16. Heather says:

    Thanks for the reminder and tips. I planted garlic last year but didn’t know I ought to take off the scapes; not only did I miss out on the pesto, my garlic bulbs were Lilliputian.

  17. Kathleen Aberley says:

    I still have a few months to go before I need to plant my garlic! Phew! one less thing to do right now! :)
    Have an awesome weekend.

  18. Lisa says:

    Looking at the pics – what you call red garlic – we call purple garlic. Best is from near Stanthorpe – love their garlic (the possums eat mine if I try to grow it – THEY love it when I try to grow garlic, onion and chillies). One day I shall try again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa! The actual variety is named Russian Red. Or sometimes Red Russian. But you’re right it does appear more purple than red. ~ karen!

  19. Dana says:

    I usually dawdle out here on the West Coast and plant in November or December. This year I planted early, and it’s a good thing, because it snowed today!

  20. Lynn says:

    Geez we have 6 inches of snow here an frozen ground, I am not planting anything lol.

    • Gayle M says:

      I planted my bulbs in planter boxes this week, and have them on the deck catching the last rains of fall. I’ll be tucking them in the shed til March thaws, then bring them back out to the deck. Might transplant, might not. Did this because we covered my brand new garden beds we dug this summer already–feral cat thinks we built him a public bathroom out there. Caught him out there once. Not gonna happen twice!

      • Lynn says:

        Gayle I thought of that , I just have no luck whatsoever transferring from pots to beds with plants I start . My green fingers don’t go that green sorry to say 😞.
        I truly wish it did but with over 35 years of trying different things I just have given up going that root.

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