Alicia DeVore

You either love garlic or hate it in your food. For those of you who love it, let me tell you a little secret…. it’s the easiest and tastiest thing to grow in your late fall through winter garden space.

I started growing it a few years ago and now, I will always add garlic to my garden because of the ease and tasty results. With just one blub of garlic, I can than grow 8-10 more garlic bulbs. That means with just 3 bulbs, I could have up to 30 bulbs for the next year. That is AMAZING!

So, in this article, I’m going to share with you how to become a garlic growing pro with these 6 simple tips. Let’s get started in learning how to grow garlic!

growing garlic  like a pro

Why Grow Garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest, hands-off crops to grow in your backyard garden. When gardening can feel too difficult, growing a hands-off crop like garlic will give you confidence to grow more crops from year to year. Let garlic be a confidence booster for you in gardening.

Here is a list of 6 Simple Tips to Growing Garlic this Fall:

Number ONE: Pick Type of Garlic to Grow

  1. There are two types of garlic you can grow softneck or hardneck. When it comes to deciding which type of garlic to grow, there are several factors to consider. Softneck garlic is ideal for mild-winter regions, while hardneck garlic is more cold-hardy and can withstand colder temperatures. Softneck garlic has a milder flavor and can be stored for up to a year, while hardneck garlic has a stronger, more complex flavor and typically lasts 4-6 months in storage. Softneck garlic tends to produce smaller bulbs with more cloves, while hardneck varieties produce larger bulbs with fewer cloves. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your growing region, culinary preferences, and storage requirements.

Softneck Garlic Varieties

burgandy garlic bulbs in a bunch

There are several other softneck varieties and garlic varieties that are wonderful to grow.

  1. California Early: This variety is early maturing with large bulbs and off-white skin. It has a mild flavor and stores well.

  2. Inchelium Red: This is a mild-flavored garlic that is easy to peel. It has large bulbs with pinkish-brown wrappers.

  3. Lorz Italian: This variety has a strong flavor and aroma. It has large, white bulbs with tight-fitting wrappers that make it an excellent choice for braiding.

  4. Silverskin: Silverskin garlic is known for its long storage life and small, tightly wrapped bulbs. It has a strong, pungent flavor that intensifies when cooked.

  5. Texas White: Texas White garlic is a spicy and robust variety with a long storage life. It is known for its large bulbs and off-white skin.

  6. Chet’s Italian Red: Grow garlic for this rich, complex flavor and is ideal for roasting or sautéing. It has large bulbs with reddish-brown wrappers.

Hardneck Varieties

There are many varieties of the hardneck varieties of homegrown garlic, each with its own bulbs and unique characteristics.

  1. Purple Stripe: Purple Stripe hardneck garlic has a strong, rich flavor and is easy to peel. It produces large bulbs with purple streaks on the skin.

  2. Rocambole: This hardneck garlic is known for its strong, complex flavor and is often considered the “chef’s garlic.” Rocambole garlic produces medium-sized bulbs with brownish-purple wrappers.

  3. Porcelain: Porcelain hardneck garlic has a mild, sweet taste and is excellent for roasting. It has large bulbs with off-white skins.

  4. Siberian: Siberian garlic is an early maturing variety with a mild flavor and a long storage life. It produces medium-sized bulbs with white skins.

  5. Music: Music garlic is a popular variety in North America, known for its pungent flavor and ease of growing. It has large bulbs with white skin.

  6. Elephant garlic: Elephant garlic is not a true garlic but a close relative of the leek. It has a mild, sweet flavor and produces very large bulbs that can be up to six inches in diameter.

    Number TWO: Know When To Grow Garlic

Importance of Frost Date

planting garlic cloves

Grow garlic in the fall, a few weeks before the first expected frost date in order to establish the roots before the cold freezing temperatures set in.

Here is a general timeline for growing garlic based on the first frost date:

  1. 4-6 weeks before the first frost date: Prepare the soil by removing weeds and adding compost. Garlic prefers well-draining soil.

  2. 2-3 weeks before the first frost date: Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves and plant them about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, with the pointed end facing up. Cover with soil and add a layer of compost (learn more about composting HERE) or mulch to protect the bulbs from cold temperatures to grow garlic.

  3. After planting: Water the garlic lightly but consistently, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Fertilize the garlic with a balanced fertilizer once a month until the leaves start to yellow or add 1-2 inches of organic compost to provide the nutrients needed.

  4. Springtime: As the weather warms up in the spring, the garlic will begin to grow new shoots. Continue to water and fertilize the garlic as needed and remove any weeds that may sprout up.

  5. Late spring/early summer: When the garlic leaves start to turn yellow and die back, it’s time to harvest. Gently dig up the bulbs with a garden fork, being careful not to damage them.

What Happens with Average Low Temperatures

garlic growing in rows

Grow garlic as a cool-season crop. This means that lower temperatures are a garlic plants best friend. They require the cold to grow and develop. For ideas of what to grow in summer, check out this blog post.

Temperature Range:

Growing garlic happens best in temperatures ranging from 60-68°F (15-20°C). It can tolerate some colder temperatures but may grow more slowly. If the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C), the growth of the garlic plant slows down but it is still growing.

Coping Mechanism:

Garlic has a natural coping mechanism to deal with cold environments. When the temperature drops, garlic plants will slow down their growth and conserve energy until the conditions improve. Garlic bulbs are also hardy in warm climates and can withstand some cold temperatures.

Lowest Average Temperature:

Garlic can grow in low-temperature conditions, but it has its limits. If the average low temperature in your area drops below 30°F (-1°C), it can damage or kill the garlic plants. Therefore, it’s important to choose a garlic variety that is suitable for your climate.

garlic sprouting

Tips for Growing in Cool Temperatures:

  1. Choose the right variety – Some garlic varieties and are more cold-tolerant than others especially if the ground freezes. Check out the variety list above to see which hard neck varieties of garlic will work best.

  2. Plant at the right time – Plant garlic in the late fall planting season, a few weeks before the first expected frost date. This will give the bulbs enough time to establish roots and grow shoots before the winter.

  3. Provide sufficient insulation – To protect the garlic bulbs from extreme temperature fluctuations and frost damage especially if the ground freezes, add a layer of 4-6 inches of organic mulch, such as straw or leaves around the plants.

  4. Water carefully – Garlic needs regular watering, especially during dry periods. But be careful not to overwater the garlic, which can lead to root rot. In cold winters, watering garlic will not be a priority. You can keep your garlic growing without much attention to it.

  5. Monitor the temperature – Keep an eye on the average low temperatures in your area and take appropriate measures to protect the garlic from extreme weather conditions.

    Number THREE: How to Plant Garlic

1.Location:

Plant garlic in a location that you can provide water and organic compost too. Having your garden close enough to see from your kitchen window will remind you to check on the progress once or twice a week.

2. Soil Quality:

Garlic prefers well-draining soil. It is important to loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches and add compost to improve soil fertility and structure. Adding compost to your soil is easy when you have homemade compost available. Check out how to compost at home for your garden in this blog post.

3. Sunlight Requirements:

Garlic prefers full sun, which means at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you don’t have a garden spot that gets full sun, try to find a location that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight everyday.

4. Care Tips:

After planting, water the garlic lightly but consistently, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Fertilize the garlic with a balanced fertilizer or more organic compost as a nutrient builder and soil protector once a month until the leaves start to yellow. If you want to learn more about making your own organic compost, check out this article. Garlic needs sufficient nutrients to form larger bulbs.

Step By Step Instructions:

garlic sprouting


1. Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves just before planting, leaving the papery skin intact on each clove. Look for plump cloves to use as you separate cloves for planting.

2. Dig a hole in well-drained soil about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. A garden trowel works great for this.

3. Place one garlic clove in each hole, with the pointed end of water garlic facing up. Cover the garlic cloves over with soil and water them gently.

4. Add a layer of mulch around the garlic to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Organic matter such as leaves or straw are great options.

5. Water the seed garlic regularly but do not overwater seed garlic since it could lead to fungal or bacterial infection.

What Amendments to Add

To grow healthy garlic here, it’s important to prepare the soil with the right amendments. Do a soil test if you are not sure of the health of your soil. Adding compost with bone meal or blood meal will give your garlic the nitrogen they need to grow well.

  1. Compost: Adding organic compost to the soil before planting can provide nutrients and improve soil structure, which is essential for healthy garlic growth.

  2. Bone meal: Bone meal is an excellent source of phosphorus, which is vital for root development in garlic. It can be added to the soil before planting to help support healthy garlic growth.

  3. Blood meal: Blood meal is a good source of nitrogen, which is necessary for plant growth and development. It can be added to the soil before planting to help provide the necessary nutrients for healthy garlic growth.

Number FOUR: Mulching

Mulch, which can be straw, grass clippings, leaves, or organic compost. All four can provide numerous benefits to garlic, which require consistent moisture levels and a weed-free environment to grow well. First, mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, preventing it from drying out during hot and dry weather.

This is crucial for garlic, which needs consistent moisture levels to thrive. Mulching can also help suppress weed growth around garlic, which can otherwise compete with garlic for nutrients and water.

Another advantage of mulching is that it can help regulate soil temperatures, keeping the soil warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months. This is especially important for garlic, which prefers cooler soil temperatures during its early growth stages.

Additionally, mulching can help prevent soil-borne diseases that can affect garlic. By providing a barrier between the soil and the plant, mulch can help prevent soil-borne pathogens from infecting the garlic bulbs.

garlic getting ready to be harvested
  1. Straw mulch: Straw mulch is a popular choice for garlic because it helps improve soil structure and moisture retention while also suppressing weed growth. To use straw mulch, apply a layer of 3-4 inches around the base of the garlic once they have reached a height of 6-8 inches.

  2. Grass clippings: Grass clippings are an excellent source of nitrogen and can help improve soil fertility when used as a mulch. To use grass clippings, apply a thin layer of 1-2 inches around the base of the garlic, taking care not to pile it too thickly, as this can inhibit moisture and air circulation.

  3. Shredded leaves: Shredded leaves are an excellent source of organic matter and can help improve soil structure and fertility while also suppressing weed growth. To use shredded leaves as a mulch, apply a layer of 3-4 inches around the base of the garlic, being careful not to pile them too deeply and inhibit air circulation.

    Number FIVE: How to Harvest Garlic

    Harvesting garlic involves several necessary steps to make sure the bulbs are mature, flavorful, and ready for use. Garlic is ready to harvest when its leaves begin to yellow and die back, typically around June or July.To harvest garlic, loosen the soil around the bulbs gently with a garden fork to avoid damaging them. Carefully pull out the bulbs, remove any excess dirt with a soft brush, and hang them upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area until the stems are completely dry and the outer skins are papery.Once they are dry, remove any excess dirt and store the garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Depending on the type of garlic, soft neck garlic can last up to a year while hard neck garlic will last 4-6 months.

    Learn more about composting in this article and add your garlic tops to it.

Number SIX: How to Use Garlic

harvesting garlic

Garlic is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways to add flavor and health benefits to a variety of dishes. Eating fresh garlic is a whole new taste than eating store garlic.

  1. Cooking: Garlic can be added to many different dishes during the cooking process, including soups, stews, stir fries, and roasted vegetables. It can be chopped, minced, or sliced before being added to the dish, depending on the desired texture and flavor.

  2. Spreads and dips: Garlic can be used to make flavorful spreads and dips, such as hummus, tzatziki, and aioli. These dips are perfect for snacking or as a party appetizer.

  3. Sauces and dressings: Garlic can be used to add flavor to homemade sauces and dressings, such as spaghetti sauce, pesto, vinaigrettes, and marinades.

  4. Roasting: Whole garlic heads can be roasted whole in the oven for a unique and delicious flavor. Once roasted, the garlic can be spread on bread or added to recipes for extra flavor.

  5. Supplement: Garlic supplements can be taken in the form of capsules or tablets for their health benefits, which include boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and lowering blood pressure.

Overall, garlic is a versatile and healthy ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Whether you’re cooking, making dips, using in stir fries, and spreads, or taking supplements, garlic is an excellent addition to any diet.

a bunch of harvested garlic

How to Preserve Garlic

It is essential to store garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation before planting. Stored garlic bulbs should not be exposed to direct sunlight, moisture, or extreme temperature changes.

How to Save Garlic to Grow Again

To prepare garlic for planting, choose high-quality bulbs that are firm and healthy, and avoid bulbs with soft spots or signs of mold. Separate the cloves from around the bulb just before planting, leaving the papery skin intact on each clove.

FAQ’s

Can I use grocery store garlic to plant in my garden?

Yes, supermarket garlic can be used for planting in your garden, but it’s important to choose fresh, high-quality bulbs and avoid those that have been treated with chemicals or sprout inhibitors. You can buy and grow with grocery store garlic.

Organic garlic bulbs are recommended for healthier plant growth. Additionally, soaking the plant garlic cloves whole in water for a few hours before planting can remove any remaining inhibitors.

scapes of a garlic

Do garlic plants come back each year?

Although garlic is a perennial plant, most gardeners treat it as an annual crop by replanting new, larger cloves with each year, to avoid the risk of disease-ridden or smaller bulbs.

While some gardeners can grow garlic as a perennial crop, it requires careful soil management and ideal growing conditions. As a result, garlic is typically grown as an annual crop in most home gardens.

What month is best to plant garlic?

The best time to plant garlic is during the fall season, usually between September and November, depending on your location and climate. It’s recommended to plant garlic several weeks before the first expected frost date in your area. This timing allows the garlic to establish roots and begin growing shoots before the cold winter dormancy period for plant cloves begins.

In general, planting garlic in the fall gives the bulbs enough time to grow and develop fully, which results in larger and healthier bulbs upon harvesting. Planting garlic in the spring is also possible but the bulbs won’t be as large as those of those planted in the fall. planted garlic in the fall.

It’s important to note that the exact planting time may vary depending on your region and climate. Therefore, it’s best to check with a local gardening expert, or look up the specific planting dates for your region, to ensure the best results. For things to plant in summer temperatures, check out this blog post.

6 simple tips to become a garlic growing pro

Does garlic need full sun?

Yes, garlic plants need full sun to grow and thrive. Garlic requires at least four to six hours of direct sunlight per day, although more is better.

It’s important to choose garlic planted in a location in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight and has fertile, well-draining soil to ensure the best results for your garlic crop.

If you don’t have a spot in your garden that gets full sun throughout the day, you can try by planting garlic cloves in containers that can be moved around to follow the sun. However, keep in mind that some varieties of garlic grown in containers may require more frequent watering and fertilization compared to those planted directly in the ground.

How long does it take for a garlic to grow?

Garlic cloves typically takes about 6-8 months to grow from planting to harvesting. The exact time can vary depending on several factors, including: how is garlic grown the variety of garlic, the growing conditions, and the time of year it is harvesting garlic was planted.

After planting, garlic cloves will begin to grow roots and shoots during the fall season. During the winter season, the garlic will enter a period of dormancy, and growth will slow or stop during this time. In the early spring again, the garlic will begin to grow again, and you’ll start to see visible bulb growth just above the top soil surface. Check out this article on growing in small spaces. This would be great for garlic too.

As the garlic cloves continue to grow, some garlic will produce a flower stalk known as a scape. Many gardeners remove the garlic scapes, so that all the plant’s energy is focused on growing larger bulbs. After the garlic scapes are removed, the bulbs will continue to mature and grow until they’re ready to be harvested.

Garlic is typically ready to harvest early spring, when the leaves begin to yellow and die back. Once this happens, the bulbs can be carefully dug up from the soil and allowed to dry for several weeks before use. After you plant garlic, check out this blog post on what else you can grow that is easy in the summer.

Overall, growing garlic requires patience, as it takes several months to make garlic grow from planting to harvesting. However, the resulting flavorful and nutrient-dense cloves are well worth the effort.

After growing your garlic, then plant quick growing plants found in this article so that you won’t waste your gardening space.

Common mistakes to avoid:

One common mistake novice gardeners make when planting garlic is planting old bulbs or bulbs that have been treated with chemicals, which can harm the plants. It is always best to plant fresh, organic garlic bulbs.

Another mistake is planting garlic too deeply or planting cloves too shallowly, which can affect bulb development. Garlic should be planted with the pointed end facing up and buried about 2 inches deep.

By following these tips, novice gardeners can choose the right garlic bulbs and plant them successfully for homegrown first garlic harvest. Remember that garlic is a hardy crop, but it does require some care and attention to grow healthy and produce good yields. Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the right products for your garlic growing. And here is a post to help you know how to garden in the winter.

Check out this blog post on planning on winter gardening for more tips. For more reading on growing the best veggies, check out this blog post.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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