Growing Garlic from Planting Through Harvest

Growing Garlic From Planting to Harvest


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Garlic is best planted before winter in many areas. It’s very easy to grow; all it needs to thrive is a sunny spot and good drainage. In this video, we demonstrate how to plant, harvest, and store these beautiful bulbs so you can enjoy perfect garlic every time.

Gorgeous garlic packs a pungent punch, making it an indispensable addition to so many recipes—and every vegetable garden. 

There are two types of garlic: ‘hardneck’ and ‘softneck’.

  • Hardneck varieties produce edible scapes (flower stems) which should be cut off to promote plumper bulbs. The scapes have a mild garlic taste that is great in salads and stir-fries. Hardneck varieties are more tolerant of cold weather than softneck types.
  • Softneck varieties don’t produce scapes but store for longer than hardnecks.

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.

How to Plant Garlic

Plant garlic in the fall. Choose a sunny location and rich and well-drained, soil. Our Garden Planner can help you find out the best times to plant in your area. Add garlic to your plan then take a look at the Plant List to see recommended planting and expected harvesting times.

To plant your garlic, gently break apart the bulb into individual cloves. Plant them about six inches apart, leaving a foot between rows.  Cover with soil so the tips are just below the surface. If birds pull up the cloves, replant them and protect them with a row cover to prevent it happening again.

In very cold areas, plant garlic cloves in plug trays and keep them under cover until spring.

You can also grow garlic in containers at least eight inches wide. Plant the cloves so they are four to six inches apart in each direction. Place the container in a sunny spot, and water in dry weather.

Caring for Garlic

Garlic needs very little attention during the growing season. Water if the weather is dry, and keep the spaces between the rows well weeded. Adding an organic mulch (e.g. grass clippings) occasionally will help to feed plants and keep the soil cool and moist.

How to Harvest Garlic

Harvest garlic when the leaves have begun to turn yellow in summer. Ease the bulbs out of the soil using a fork or trowel. Dry them out somewhere warm and airy. Once dry, brush off any remaining soil and cut off the leaves. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place on wire racks, or plait the leaves and use them to hang up strings of garlic. Garlic bulbs should store for at least three months.

For more information, see the Almanac’s Garlic Growing Guide.

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Where do you get the starts can you use ones out of store?

Garlic Starters

Some folks report success with store-bought garlic, but your best bet would be to find locally-grown garlic and plant that instead. This way, you will know that the variety is hardy in your area and that the garlic has not been treated with chemicals. So, if you have the option to buy locally-grown garlic, do so, but if not, then store-bought should suffice.

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