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How To Plant Garlic

>28 October 2011
 
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Fall is the perfect time to get garlic in the ground. And it’s super easy to plant.

This year, I did something seen as somewhat risky for our first time planting garlic.

I planted store-bought garlic. From China.

It’s “risky”, ’cause it may not do well here. But I didn’t order seeds in time to plant them, and I don’t know when I’ll get into town to visit the farmer’s market to buy some garlic (which would have really been the ideal thing to do), so, I’m experimenting!

If you have a farmer’s market nearby, and you can find a vendor selling locally grown heads of garlic… get them. It is sure to be a variety which grows well in your area.


To plant garlic, first you break apart the heads into individual cloves.

Next, plant the cloves into the ground, root side down. This is the root side.

Simply push the cloves into loose soil until the tips are just barely below the surface of the dirt. Space them about 8 inches apart. Then cover them up with a thin layer of soil.

Garlic requires well draining soil, or else it’ll rot in the ground. It is benefited by the addition of finished compost or aged manure. Mulch lightly over the winter with hay or straw.

In the Spring, (hopefully!), a green curly flower stem will shoot up from the garlic heads. Snip this off, as it will take energy away from the growing bulb. You can use this cutting to cook with, the same as you would use a clove of garlic. Continue mulching all the way through the summer, to prevent weeds.

Harvest when the stems have begun turning brown. And hang them in small clusters  to dry.

Like I said, this is my first attempt at growing garlic. I’ve had this brand of garlic begin to sprout in my pantry, so hopefully it’ll do the same in the ground!

Any tips or advice you can share on growing garlic? Will you be growing any this year?

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19 Comments »

  • Sassy said:

    No tips or hints from me, this will be our first year planting garlic too. I sure hope your China garlic does well.

  • Emily said:

    I’ll be curious to see if your experiment works. We bought our seed garlic from Peaceful Valley organics. With shipping, it ended up costing about $20 for a lb of organic garlic – kind of pricy.

    This spring will be our first real try at growing garlic. We bought some started garlic in pots from a local nursery on a whim this year. It didn’t work very well!

  • Kristi said:

    Thanks for sharing, Kendra! I had been thinking about planting garlic for a while.

    I’m in SoCal, so I’m wondering…should I plant mine now, and will it really take until Spring to get flowers? I did onions last year and it took a long time before I harvested (like 6-7 months), but I did get chutes relatively quickly.

    Love your blog and will be following it from now on. :)

  • Deb W said:

    Not all varieties have scapes (the curly things – which can be stir fried and eaten too). I have planted garlic cloves from heads I bought at the grocery for a couple of years, and they did very well. Sure, I’d rather have organic, locally-grown garlic heads to begin with but I keep forgetting to buy them until I REALLY need to get them in the ground, and then just grab what I can.

    The way they grow for me (in KY) is they grow green shoots in the fall after I plant them, which die down when winter truly comes. In the spring, new shoots grow up, and when they are about 1/2 browned off (July-ish?) is when to dig them up. Don’t pull – you may break off the foliage and/or damage the bulb.

    You are right. VERY easy.

  • Aila said:

    Hello Kendra. I’m your reader from Finland, Europe. It was funny to read about chinese garlic you bought. Few months ago I was in our local supermarket buying garlic and the options were chinese or spanish garlic. I chose spanish because it was organig. But I think it is crazy that our food comes from other side of the world. I understand some products don’t grow here, but I garlic isn’t one of those. I have grown it sometimes, not this summer. Now I bought big bag of it from local farmer :) All the best for you and your family, God bless you all!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Kristi,

    You know, I’m not sure about your area. I would think, yes, plant now, but you might wanna look up your county extension and ask them. They should have all of the answers you need. You have such a great growing climate there!! Give garlic a try :)

  • Robin said:

    Love the idea of growing garlic. My only disappointment is it’s from China. My goal is to support the USA and specifically independant local small businesses. It’s my personal mission. FYI check out the site: the350project.net Wonderful information and if we can all try to do our own part to help our nation’s economy. :) Good luck!

  • Jen V said:

    We have planted garlic from the grocery store and it has done fine for us. Hope yours does well!

  • Denise said:

    Just remember to save a bulb or two to plant again. You can keep planting them in the fall and then you wont have to buy bulbs again. That’s what I have been doing. I bought mine organic and it was kind of pricy but I understand that the garlic you get in the stores is bleached and probably will not grow as good. Once you have them established for your area they should do well though.

  • Apartment Prepper said:

    Nice photos. I am glad you took a photo of the “root side” to show which way to plant. You have inspired me to try planting the store bought garlic as well. Thanks!

  • Rebecca said:

    We’ve had very good outcomes just planting store garlic those years we didn’t save our own garlic. Good luck!

  • Nancy W. said:

    Thanks for sharing! Planting garlic is something I’m hoping to get to this fall! Hopefully this week. I purchased some garlic grown locally so I’m hoping to have good luck!

  • Amy @ Heritage Homamaker said:

    I need to do this! By the time we moved to our little farm last year and got settled, I wasn’t able to get our garden in before it got too hot. I do have a smallish bed that has been here for years, I just may go buy some garlic and plant it to see what happens. Goodness knows that if it doesn’t grow, I’m not our much money for trying. It will be fun.

  • jim said:

    when exactly should I try and plant my garlic, I get alittle confused on when to plant things. new to gardening

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jim, garlic is a cool weather crop. Most people plant in fall. The exact time depends on where you live. I’d suggest you do a search for planting times for your area!

  • Molly said:

    I have a bulb of garlic and only use a clove or two at a time. If I have any cloves left over this coming fall, do you think it will still be ok to plant or should I get a fresh bulb?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Molly, well when you leave a bulb for too long it’ll start to grow on it’s own, lol! So I’d say, if it isn’t rotten, it’s probably okay to plant.

  • Salt River Garlic said:

    Really liked your article. Have you looked at planting locally grown garlic, like that sold through a small grower or at your farmer’s market? It’s healthier–no chemical retardants used that kill off a lot of the beneficial compounds in garlic–and it tastes so much better. That’s because those varieties small farmers sell are heirlooms, the kind of garlics our grandparents grew and loved. I always tell people they haven’t had garlic until they’ve grown their own heirloom garlic.

    You can also get garlic scapes if the garlic you choose is a hardneck, so that’s like a two-for-one deal. Scapes are great for making pesto or as a substitute where green onions would be used in a dish. They’re also delicious grilled with a little bit of olive oil and salt. Hardneck garlics can only be bought from small growers.

    I hope your local farmers market sells heirloom garlic. It may cost a bit, but it’s truly an investment into seed biodiversity. Buying, eating, and saving your own seed from heirloom garlic keeps these rare bulbs from being lost. Plus they’re just delicious.

    Hope this helps on your journey to self-sufficiency. :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Salt River Garlic,

    I do plan on buying some heirloom garlic from the farmer’s market. Thanks!

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