How to Grow Garlic

I think we can all agree that garlic is one of the cornerstones to any good dish. It’s truly delicious. It’s also something that you can grow at home in bulk and store for long periods of time, which makes it a really worthwhile vegetable to plant. It’s also great because each clove of garlic that comes from a bulb is essentially the seed for a whole head of garlic for the next year, so once you start growing garlic, you should never have to buy seed garlic again. Whether you are growing hard or softneck garlic, the planting is the same. So let’s get into it. 

hand planting garlic clove


Garlic grows best in fertile, moist, well draining, loamy soil with a PH between 6-7. Garlic that is planted in soil that is too compacted and dry will result in irregular bulbs and a poor harvest. To add richness and nutrients, amend your top soil with organic matter. Make sure to choose a really high quality compost or manure to add to your mix. This will ensure your garlic get’s enough food, and it will help with water retention. It’s important to not use raw/fresh manure in your garden as it can “burn” your veg and be detrimental. It can also carry bacteria that can contaminate your produce. Compost also helps regulate the acidity in your soil. Garlic can be planted in beds, raised beds, and even pots!

how to grow garlic


Keep soil evenly moist but not too saturated to avoid bulb rot. If you live in an area where you get 1 ⁄ 2 inch to 1 inch of rainwater per week, you shouldn’t have to supplement watering. If you’re planting a very large bed of garlic, drip lines can be beneficial to make sure your whole bed is getting enough water. As with all vegetables, make sure you plant your bulbs in an area that gets good airflow. If water sits around the leaves and base of your plants for too long, it can lead to your mold or fungus. It is also best to water your garlic in the morning, as it gives your plants ample time to dry off in the midday heat. If water your vegetables at night, the opposite can happen and the moisture is more likely to sit around your plants.

pealing garlic cloves for planting


Garlic requires full sun, so make sure you plant your garlic in a space that has a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day (Full sun means 6-8 hrs minimum of sunlight exposure). Growing garlic in partial shade will result in smaller bulbs, but they should still taste good. 


Garlic loves lots of feeding, so make sure to fertilize your bed before planting and then some more throughout the growing season. Use a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer or this Happy Frog organic fertilizer  to prep your bed in the fall and then feed your garlic every 2-3 weeks in the spring and then stop when you start to see scapes emerge. 

garlic stems


Garlic should be planted in the fall months, as it requires a process called vernalization to divide itself into cloves. First, start by separating the cloves of your seed garlic. Once done, you have the option to soak your garlic in two baths. The first to kill off any excess mold and pests like bulb mites and the second to give it a boost for growing. Check out this article to learn how to soak your garlic! Now you’re ready to get your garlic in the ground. Dig a trench for your garlic cloves and plant them root side down. Space them 2-4 inches deep and 4-8 inches apart. Space your rows a foot apart. How deep you plant your garlic will depend on how cold your winter gets. Look up the right depth for your particular zone. Cover your trenches with soil, water, then add a six inch layer of straw mulch on top of your bed, to insulate it over winter. You can leave this layer of mulch up until harvesting time, but if it is molding, discard the old layer and replace it with new straw.

many heads of garlic


While garlic is a very pungent smelling plant and is commonly used as a natural bug repellent in companion planting practices, there are some pests you’ll need to look out for. These include Bulb Mites and Leaf Miners.

  • Bulb Mites

Bulb mites are a very tiny pest that can overwinter in your garlic and go on to cause damage in the spring and summer growing season and even affect garlic storage. The best way to lessen the chance of them being an issue is to soak your garlic in a soapy mixture or even alcohol to kill off the mites before planting. This article has lots of info on how to soak your garlic prior to planting. Another thing you’ll want to practice is crop rotation. Planting garlic in the same bed as it was in the year before can be detrimental, as the mites can stick around and affect your bulbs again. Try rotating with carrots or other root vegetables like beets. Stay away from rotating with corn and brassicas as they are also hosts to bulb mites. 

  • Leaf miners 

Leaf miners can weaken your plant and make it more susceptible to disease and bulb rot. It is easy to spot the damage from leaf miners, as it looks like someone has drawn squiggly lines on the leaves of your plants. The best way to protect your garlic from leaf miners is by using row covers. Cover your rows of garlic in early spring with fine mesh, making sure the sides of the mesh are buried so the leaf miners can get in. You can also spray your plants with a mixture of water and neem oil every 1-2 weeks until the problem is resolved. 

With the right tools and methods, garlic is easy to grow and such a great addition to your garden.

Happy Planting!

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