How to Grow Garlic

Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is mentioned in ancient Greek, Indian and Chinese writings, while garlic bulbs were found in the Tomb of Tutankhamen when archeologists first opened it in 1922. The bulbs were found to date from 1500 BC.

With such an illustrious history to tap into, permaculture gardeners may well want to make garlic a part of their plot design. In fact, if you cook with garlic – and it is increasingly found in kitchens everywhere – it is a good idea to grow your own. This is because the vast majority of garlic is imported, and usually treated with chemicals to preserve it during transportation.

Choose Variety
Garlic comes in two types: soft-neck and hard-neck. This classification refers to the relative stiffness of the stem just above the bulb. Generally, soft-neck species last longer in storage, while hard-neck varieties are hardier. Soft-necks prefer a milder climate than their hard-neck cousins, but with judicious use of microclimates, permaculturists in most areas should be able to cultivate either or both. Purple-striped and Porcelain are popular choices of hard-neck species, while Artichoke garlic and Silverskins give good crops of soft-necks.

Prepare the Soil
Garlic prefers a well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Add compost – ideally one that is rich in manure – to the soil before planting your garlic, watering it well. The compost also helps keep the structure of the soil relatively loose, which helps garlic, as they do not have the strongest of root systems. Garlic also like a slightly alkaline soil, so if your garden bed has a low pH, you might consider adding organic agricultural lime to raise it a little before planting.

Timing
Plant garlic in mid-fall. This will give you a harvest at the start of the following summer. The plant goes dormant during the winter, be reinvigorates with growth come springtime.

Planting
Because much garlic available in supermarkets and grocers has been treated with preservatives and pesticides, it is preferable to source your cloves from an organic nursery. This ensures you are not introducing any unwanted elements into your plot.

You plant individual cloves from a bulb. When breaking apart a bulb for cloves to plant, try to keep as much as possible of the papery covering of the clove intact, and some of the base plate of the bulb attached. Choose the biggest, plumpest cloves for planting; these will give you the strongest, biggest plants. Plant with the pointed end upwards, at a depth of around 3 inches. Plant individual cloves around 7 inches apart.

Some gardeners like to soak their cloves for a couple of hours prior to planting in a mixture of water, baking soda and seaweed fertilizer, believing this helps protect the cloves from fungal infection. However, on a permaculture plot, it is not really necessary.

Once you have had your first harvest, you can also replant cloves from your crop.

Consider Companions
Generally, garlic is one of the most beneficial of companion plants in the permaculture garden. Its chemical makeup means it repels a large number of potential pests, not only insects such as aphids but also larger mammals such as moles, squirrels and deer. Its pungent scent seems to be a primary reason for this, and its strong taste puts animals off trying garlic a second time. But garlic also protects plants around it by accumulating sulfur in the soil. Sulfur is a naturally occurring fungicide, and its presence helps protect plants from soil diseases. Plants that particularly benefit from companion planting with garlic include fruit trees, cabbage, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and cane fruits, such as blackberries and raspberries. Really the only plants to avoid planting in proximity to garlic are peas and beans, as it appears to have a detrimental effect on their growth.

Care
Mulching your garlic plants is a good idea, both to prevent weeds, which can outcompete garlic roots for soil nutrients and water, to preserve soil moisture, and to provide a source of nutrients. Straw seems to be a particularly good choice for mulching garlic. This helps protect the plants during the colder winter months. Once the last frost of winter has passed, it is a good idea to add more compost to the soil around your garlic plants, as this will help promote plump bulb growth over the spring.

Garlic does not need watering until the spring, when the soil should be kept damp to the touch. Stop watering at the start of the summer when you see the leaves begin to turn yellow, as stopping watering will allow the bulbs to firm up.

At the start of summer, you will probably see your garlic plants develop flowering tops. Left alone these will curl over and then form into harder, spiny tendrils. There is no particular detriment to leaving these tendrils – called ‘scrapes’ – on the plant, but cutting them back can help promote stringer bulb growth. If cut them back before they begin to curl, the scrapes can be used in the kitchen, imparting a subtle garlic flavor to salads and soups. Scrapes are more commonly a feature of hard-neck varieties.

Harvest
While precise harvesting times will depend on your location and climate conditions, generally, garlic planted in mid-fall will be ready to grow garlicharvest in mid-summer. When most of the lower leaves have turned yellow-brown, it is time to harvest. You want the upper leaves to still be green; otherwise the bulbs will not form the papery wrappers that allow you to store them. The bulbs at this stage are still delicate so don’t pull them up. Instead, dig the rootstock out carefully.

Store
Once harvest, take your garlic plants out of the sun and store in a shaded, dry place, preferably one that receives a draft. Tie bundles of 8-10 plants together, or use a mesh bag, and hang the garlic up for four to six weeks. This allows the bulbs to ‘cure’, developing the distinctive papery skins. Once formed, trim off the roots and the stalks to around 1 inch above the bulb. Store in a light, dry location (but not in direct sunlight); it should keep for between six and eight months.

156 comments

Step one. Put in the ground. There are no further steps. This stuff always grows. It requires a winter for the bulb to split into the individual cloves. Other than that they do their own thing.

Seth Johnson this would be good for you to read. Garlic has to be in the ground a long time before harvest. Yours will be ready next spring – June maybe?

We have a box full from our garden.

I planted some yesterday! Am getting my permaculture design certification & have a site outside of Weaverville we’re designing around this concept – wanna play? 🙂

Clau Menegatti para una amante del ajo 😉

It’s also great for ones health. It is almost like a super food for the immune system.

I plant garlic around my unfenced front gardens in the city to keep dogs off of them. Dogs hate the smell of garlic and it is toxic to them if they eat it. Try scapes minced in soft cheese. Yum.

need info on growing in Florida.

Planted several hardneck varieties this morning. http://www.colliervillevictorygarden.org

Charlyn

We planned on planting garlic in the Spring, then I read this article about planting in the fall:( Can I plant in the early Spring?

And ITALIANS everywhere can’t live without it!

AND it’s super medicinal.

I planted about 130 cloves a couple weeks ago.

My garlic’s started sprouting Anne Kerin – had to net to stop the birds pulling them up but looking good. 🙂

Grandma Garlic

This is a well written, basic on growing garlic which I agree on for the most part.

However, having grown garlic for a number of years, I would like to clarify on a few key points I have learned along the way.

First of all, let it be known that each green leaf on the plant represents an outer wrapper on the garlic bulb. As the leaves die back from the bottom up, they are not developing the outer wrappers on the bulbs, but wrappers are actually deteriorating. If you wait until all of the leaves are brown, the bulbs open underground, letting dirt in. These are still edible, but are not as pretty and will not lastas long as bulbs with good wrappers. So ideally, you need to watch the “die- back” of the leaves from the bottom up, wanting a few sets, maybe half of the leaves on the top half of the plant, still green. These represent still intact wrappers on the mature bulbs.

Also, just as important, is the timing of cutting the scapes off. In my experience, it is wise/ desirable to watch the scapes as they are forming. I ‘pop’ them off once they have made a full circle curl. Taking them off too soon may result in the plant sending up a double flower, or 2 scapes. The scapes should be taken off just above the crotch of the top set of leaves. It essential to snap the scapes off of your garlic plants if you want the bulbs to size up nicely. If you leave them on, the curled stems of the flower tops will keep growing, straightening out sending all of the plants energy to the flower, resulting in tiny garlic bulbs. The difference is night and day.

P.S. The advice above is for hard necks as far as scapes go. The die back rule applies to both hard and soft neck garlic. Softnecks do not put up scapes. They are a ‘bottom setter’. I notice they are getting ready when they start to lean a bit and I watch their die back.

Grandma Garlic

We are hugely into garlic…all aliums

one clove of raw garlic will lower your blood pressure if high! It is always found in my refrigerator 🙂 and plant 20 of them in the fall to cultivate in early spring

Garlic a powerfull antibiotic antiviral..reduces cholesterol..cured my tooth abcess..no dentist.. raw garlic on the gum and tooth..reduced my high blood pressure..and keeps away vampires..lol!!

Carol

Good luck trying to grow ANY variety in Northwestern Wyoming! The soil and water are heavy with Alkaline and Salts, and if you tyr to plant it in containers, it just FREEZES. I have tried Many different ways over the years, with NO luck. I just have to BUY the Grocery store bulbs weekly.

Is it too late to plant garlic now (mid-Dec) in N Carolina?

talexbrock

Is it too late to plant now (mid-Dec) in N Carolina?

I am in zone 7 (GA) and our weather is so crazy that the question you ask is iffy… we never know what the weather will do. But garlic needs to go through a freeze period so I would try to plant some now and see how it does. I think the latest I’ve ever put garlic in the ground was October and it did fine. But you normally want to plant it in August or September.

I grow Elephant garlic for nothing but the bloom

It is absolutely easy to grow and Haliburton County grows some of the best – check out haliburtongarlic.ca for planting/growing and harvesting pics and instructions – Don’t forget to visit our Fest in August!!!!

Best crop I grow, so easy!

Dogs hate garlic and it is poisonous to them. I have a strawberry patch in my front yard that was visited by dogs until I planted garlic around it.

It is easy to grow and fun to learn about the different varieties. Try it!

I’m thinking today is a good day to get mine in the ground!

Not easy in subtropics. Virtually impossible.

I grow it, easy! Organic is easy too!

i eat the stems with dubliner cheese

I love growing garlic. Once you get it going you never have to buy garlic again. This year I let a few plants flower, harvested the bulbils, and planted them too. Looking forward to the harvest.

I planted 70 heirloom bulbs in October!

I grow all our own garlic. Nothing easier. Considering that 90 % of the garlic consumed in the US is grown in China it is stupid to not grow it if you have a little bit of space. Plant in the fall, harvest in July, dry it out for a couple of weeks and it will keep until the next harvest. If it starts to spoil dehydrate it or freeze it. This should be a staple in everyone’s garden.

Have some in my garden right now…cant wait till summer to harvest!!!

Ashley Vanessa

Julie is your garlic coming up yet?!

I grow garlic chives. Onions of all sorts do great in Virginia.

We grew garlic last year. It’s so easy and stores so long. After we planted it we added some mulch and walked away for 8 months and came back to harvest it!

Simple to grow. Plant the hard neck varieties so you can enjoy the scapes.

mmmmmm………Garlic!!!!

This must be taken as evidence that Tutankhamen wasn’t a vampire. ^_^

Good info Allan Karpyshyn

wow! Now my fingers are itching to get in my garden, I read some of the other articles, very informative, thanks for sharing this

Yes, yes, YES! Garlic is so easy to grow. And you gets scapes…. Everyone should know and eat scapes!

And if you screw up and let the grass get so high you accidentally leave 50 or so plants out there, it just keeps growing back year after year….

Thanks Wendy..

Raven Butler next years garden

I have tried growing garlic for 4 years in a row and have had no luck 🙁

Absolutely. Garlic is mandatory.

j’adore l’ail et l’Égypte 🙂

Garlic is an amazing food!

For several yrs now, when I harvest I prepare each bulb ready to use, place them in a small jar, fill with olive oil, place in fridge. The oil thickens turns white, the bulbs come a bit brownish but they keep their freshness , taste strengthens, keeps for over a year. and when needed just pull out rinse under warm water! The small center bulbs I dry and grind for powder.

I have been growing garlic for at least 20 years and can honestly say that it is one of the easiest plants to grow.Love it.!

SMELLS LIKE IT TOO LOL

I GROW music and red russian.. so easy.. much better than the “crap” from china… use one vs 3 pieces… yummmmmm 🙂

I have been growing garlic for many years. This year I grew 300 bulbs. Growing garlic is both healing to the body and to the spirit. Watching it grow and then picking and harvesting it brings me great joy.

Love garlic…

I want to make garlic part of my life’s plot! 😛 I like it!

i love garlic …i eat every day

We grow garlic in our garden every year!!

guess it kept the vampires away

Love to know the secret , have planted for many years ..no luck…followed advise on-line and off…

Love garlic. Keeps you healthy all year long. Plant in october pick when ready. Even the green tops are good.

DE LAIL OU PAS TU POURIT CAMMEME LOL

For what” Ails ” you

yes I eat the pressed garlic when im sick and three odourless capsules daily when norml

IT’S GOOD FOR YA HEART.

I am going to do this!!!

Me too! Thanks for sharing Carol!!

I grow lots and just love it !!!!

Don’t they populate like crazy when you grow them? I read that somewhere.

what a bunch of garbage don’t click on any thing from Suggested Post they jut want money crooked .

Mitch, how about you just grow enough to share!

have been growing my own for20 yrs now

do it – you won’t believe how expensive garlic is in Canada – I guess bc it’s so cold but Garlic is good for Everything!!

Need to figure out how to grow it in interior Alaska

easy to grow, been doing it for years.

Been growing my own in Nova Scotia for years, ever since I could not find any in the grocery stores that was not from China .

It’s a regular part of all my gardens! Ornamental and veggie!

yeah easy to grow here in Montreal, started with 25, it never is enough for the year, last year 50, still not enough, this year 75. Using it for cooking AND medication, I suspect I will have to go up to 100 since you have to keep the best to replant in the fall. And each year with the garlic flower I deshydrate it and make salt.

you’re reading my mind

And so much healthier than buying garlie produced in China from all grocery stores!

Corinne Melissa Cameron

we grow enough garlic for the year in Nova Scotia and contrary to what you may believe…… Kat Russell, it is not toxic to dogs!!!

It makes magic wands for kids to play with!

As long as the deer don’t get it in the fall/winter /spring.

Do you plant in the fall?

Where to get organic garlic in Scarborough Ontario Canada?

must have turned to dust by now

Anyone can grow garlic, as easy as daffodils lol. Still got time to get some in..

My daughter is 3 and planted garlic. We did soak the garlic ends, but that was because I wasn’t convinced they would sprout. They had roots by morning.

Greenhouse? Indoors with grow lamps?

I just started growing some this past fall. It’s still alive and growing in 6 degree weather here in southeastern Pennsylvania, Philly region. I covered it with hard plastic cold frame to keep it growing til winter stops being so brutal

I guess King Tut didn’t take it in time

I’ve done it, it’s as easy as anything else to grow.

Gotta love the garlic !!

I am in KY/Southern Indiana and traveled a lot this fall leaving no time for anything. Is it too late to try and get garlic in the ground? Can it be planted in early spring?

Toni Brown Doug Crump

We planted our garlic in November.

I’m excited for our first garlic harvest !!! 😀

Mine is sprouting!

Benjamin Harrell

Garlic in the garage, garlic in the garden under the snow. Yes, garlic has a spot at my abode.

So many reasons to grow garlic. It’s good for you and your garden.

I love garlic

It didn’t grow all that well for me

Grow a bushel each yr. for last 35 yrs. wonderful plant,not labor intensive.

Onions & GARLIC! <3

Anyone ever have luck growing garlic in south Miami, Florida?

Going to have to try it!

grows pretty good here in W Va. but learned a couple tips from this

There will NEVER be enough garlic! 🙂

you can find stuff in my fridge you would think came from Tutankhamen tomb.just being a guy but the beer never gets stale.

Do you have gophers?

I’ve planted garlic in January and Harvested on Father’s Day. In Northern California.

I grew some garlic last summer, turned out great.

Of course, no vampires.

It says plant in mid fall to late for this year?

We live in MD and we try to plant garlic the weekend closest to Halloween. It’s worked out well every year we have done it, and we have always been happy with the results.

I love garlic and I’m gonna try this! It’s expensive to buy!!

I do not care for it all that much.

i have 46 plants growing over the winter, looking forward to harvest in fall

I need to plant a garlic patch.

have been growing for the third year. S O easy, and rewarding!

Well, I planted my garlic last week. The smallest ones and one upside down. They must be hardy, because they both have sprouts and they have no sunlight. Does that mean I have a green thumb?

I want to do this! Where do you get the right garlic – I’ve the grocery store variety really isn’t even close to the best – ?

Elena Hart

This is awesome!

Easy to grow…..I farmed garlic for 20+ years in Cali….Garlic will grow in just about any climate…..If you cant grow whole bulbs then just use the tops like you would green onions..I actually made more money bundleing it up and selling it as “green garlic.” If you cant find seed garlic, or you find the cost to much(which it is), go to a farmers market and buy a few heads, separate the cloves and plant them blunt side down……Be patient…Can take up to nine months before its ready……

The best time to plant garlic is in the fall,just make sure it organic

Yes, I have also grown garlic, it’s fun and it’s GOOD!

We should all builder homes in the shape of a pyramid with the corner point true North and our sleeping spot to be located suspended in the middle with garlic bulbs hanging everywhere!

It didn’t save Tut!

I’m carzy love garlic….every one hate me…..who care!! My Mom and I always plants garlic in garden in Fall, plants every where..bugs don’t like garlic

I have been planting garlic every Fall around late September. By July, August of the following summer, I have a good crop of garlic. We consume most but, I save quite a bit to replant. I have also been planting bulbils, those are taken from the top of the stock. They are tiny little cloves of garlic, actually seeds I think. They do take several years to grow into full cloves. And, we eat the bulbils too.

or they were trying to keep the vampires at bay, LOL

it is very easy to grow. I have grown my own elephant garlic as well as some smaller types for years.

I grow garlic every year….It stores great too!

So easy to grow and better than in the stores.

I have mine in for next summer…

Me too. I love how you can harvest at the beginning of July and still plant something else there for the rest of the summer!

Have not had to purchase garlic for years until this one as I moved and don’ t have garden going yet

I have about 300 cloves planted!

Love garlic the more the better Especially roated in a teracotta roasting panl

Crystal LovesFood

David Wilson

companion gardening

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