Growing Garlic from Planting to Harvest

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Home-grown garlic

If I had to pick just one vegetable I couldn’t be without, it would have to be garlic. Its rich, satisfying taste is pure indulgence. Luckily for fellow garlic enthusiasts, growing this flavorsome delight is pretty straightforward.

Read on or watch our video to discover exactly how to plant, grow and harvest these beautiful bulbs.

Types of Garlic

There are two types of garlic: ‘hardneck’ or ‘softneck’. Hardneck varieties produce flower stems, or ‘scapes’, which must be removed to encourage the bulbs to reach their full potential. The scapes themselves are an early summer treat, delicious chopped into salads or stir-fried for a taste of the bulbs to come. Hardneck varieties are more tolerant of cold weather than softneck ones, so opt for these if your winters are harsh.

While not a true garlic, the enormous ‘Elephant’ garlic behaves like a hardneck type. Despite its size, it has a mild flavor.

Garlic from the grocery store may carry disease and could be unsuitable for your climate.

“Garlic
Garlic scapes are not just tasty, removing them also helps increase the size of the bulbs

How to Plant Garlic

Originating from central Asia, garlic loves a sunny location in fertile, free-draining soil. You can improve your soil by digging in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost, a few months before planting.

Unlike many vegetables, garlic is usually planted in fall. This is because the winter cold signals it to begin bulb production the following spring. To find out when you can plant in your area, take a look at our Garden Planner. Add garlic to your plan then refer to the accompanying Plant List to see when to plant it and when you can expect to enjoy your harvest.

Plant your garlic into prepared soil raked to a fine tilth. Begin planting by carefully breaking apart the bulb to separate the individual cloves. Plant them pointy end up, about six inches (15cm) apart, leaving a foot (30cm) between rows. You can make a trench, or dig a hole for each clove. Cover them back over with soil so that the tips of the cloves are only just below the surface. If birds pull up the cloves, replant them and pop a row cover or netting over the top to prevent further problems.

“Garlic
Hardy garlic can be grown outdoors over winter in many regions

In very cold regions garlic cloves can be planted into module trays for planting out in spring. Fill the trays with general purpose potting soil and plant one clove per module in exactly the same way.

You can also grow garlic in containers. Choose pots that are at least eight inches (20cm) wide, with adequate drainage holes in the base. Plant the cloves so they are four to six inches, or 10 to 15cm apart in each direction. Cover them with more potting soil then move to a sunny spot.

Growing Garlic

Garlic needs very little attention. Water if the weather is dry – especially garlic in containers – and weed between rows to prevent plants from getting swamped.

“Garlic
Garlic will benefit from a mulch of grass clippings

Lay an organic mulch such as grass clippings occasionally during the growing season to help to feed plants, while keeping the ground cool and moist.

Harvesting and Storing Garlic

Your garlic is ready to lift when the leaves have begun to turn yellow or die down in summer. Use a fork or trowel to ease the bulbs from the ground then dry them out somewhere warm and airy.

“Garlic
Dry garlic on a wire rack to insure good airflow

Once dry, brush off any remaining soil, cut off the leaves, then store in a cool, dry place on racks for good airflow. Alternatively, weave the leaves into a plait to hang up. Garlic bulbs should keep like this for three months or more.

And that’s it – growing garlic couldn’t be any simpler! If you’ve got a variety you particularly rate, whether for character, flavor or storing abilities, please tell us about it in the comments section below. Or perhaps you’ve got a helpful garlic-growing tip you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!

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Comments

 
"Your article says : "In very cold regions garlic cloves can be planted into module trays for planting out in spring." Could you please tell me more about this? If cold is needed to trigger the garlic to grow, do these modules need be kept at a certain temperature all winter to trigger growth before planting out and prevenyt premature growth? Can I then put them out earlier under row covers for an earlier crop or what size and weather temperature is safe for transplanting them out? Thank you."
P T Theriault on Saturday 11 November 2017
"The module trays should be kept under cover, out of the severe cold. It will still be more than cold enough to initiate bulb production when then warm weather finally arrives. You could certainly plant them out under row covers to help them along at the start of the season. They are generally planted out as soon as there are regular days of pleasant, warm weather, with fewer frosts at night. In my part of the world that's usually early April."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 13 November 2017

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