Learn How To Grow Your Own Garlic At Home
If you want to learn how to grow garlic, start by thinking of it like a bulb. Unlike most vegetables, the best time to plant garlic is in the fall (even though many seed catalogs will sell it in spring). Ideally, get it in the ground right after your area's first killing frost (this may be from late September to November or even December, depending on where you live). After you plant it, garlic will develop a healthy root system in the cool soil. It goes dormant over winter and waits to send up leafy shoots in the spring.
Like most vegetables, garlic prefers a spot in full sun and moist but well-drained soil. The plant likes lots of organic matter, so it's really helpful to amend your ground each year with lots of compost. Plant individual garlic cloves about 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart. Plant them with the pointy side facing up.
You may like the strong taste of garlic or don’t, in both ways you can’t deny the incredibly healthy attributes of this plant.
Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is related to onion, leeks, and chives. It is thought that garlic is native to Siberia, but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago.
How to Grow
- When to Plant: Mid September through November 30. October is the best time.
- How to Plant: Break open the bulbs and separate the cloves. Pick out the larger cloves for planting. Small ones aren’t desirable as they produce small bulbs. Do not peel off the outer skin. With the fatter end down (pointed end up), push the clove into hole in soil. Cover with about 2 inches of dirt. Water well and then cover with mulch—compost, leaves, or straw, etc.
- Sun Exposure: Full sun, may tolerate partial shade
- Seed Depth: Plant 2 inches deep
- Spacing: 2 to 4 inches apart or 9 plants per square foot
- Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth.
- Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water.
- It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level.
- If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems.
- Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Monitor for pests and diseases.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- When to Harvest: Garlic is ready to harvest when the greens begin to turn brown and dry out but preferably with 5-8 green leaves still attached. This is usually in June or early July but varies depending on the weather.
- Use a digging fork to loosen soil and pull the bulbs by hand. Remove excess soil with your hands.
- Do not wash.
- Lay the bulbs, single file, in a shady spot immediately. Garlic needs to “cure” (dry out) in a dry, warm, dark, airy place for four weeks and sometimes longer.
- A well-ventilated shed or garage is the ideal place to hang them. Be prepared. They will have a strong smell.
- Garlic is cured when it has dry skins, tight necks, and dry, crunchy foliage. Trim roots and cut the stalks about an inch above the bulb once cured.
- Pull up the plants and allow them to dry in the sun for a few hours. Spread them out in a well-ventilated location until the tops are thoroughly dry, about 3-4 weeks.
- Cut off the tops 1-2 inches above the bulbs, or braid the tops together for softneck varieties. Store loose bulbs in a dry, cool, airy place in baskets, or hang braided garlic strings.
- Garlic may be frozen, make into vinegar, or made into garlic salt.
- Store in net bags, out of direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate.