How to Plant Garlic – Step by Step
Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow in a home vegetable garden. Learn all the tips you need to know on how to plant garlic in fall or spring.
Growing garlic is very low maintenance. Plant, ignore, and harvest? That is my favorite kind of crop!
Garlic is the best, and a few of our favorite ways to enjoy it are by making Air Fryer Roasted Garlic, Garlic Butter Green Beans, and Instant Pot Roasted Garlic. Gimme all the garlic! Garlic is one of my favorite seasonings, so much so that I have a whole garlic section of recipes that you can find here.
What Kind of Garlic Should I Grow?
There are essentially two types of garlic – hardneck and softneck. Hardneck “keeps” (stores) for a shorter amount of time, but is wicked easy to plant and gives you scapes in summer, which seems like bonus garlic to me.
Softneck stores better for longer periods of time, but can be a bit fussier. Confused about which to plant? Try both if you have enough space. And color me jealous if you do!
Where Do I Get Seed Garlic?
Farmer’s markets or online seed companies are great places to get great local seed garlic. Do try to find a variety adapted to your climate/zone.
Even better, when you save your best bulbs each year to plant, you are strengthening that variety and adapting it to grow in your region. No matter our weather, I have great results every year with our garlic because it is used to my growing conditions.
Do not use garlic from the grocery store as it is either bred to not allow for growth or has been sprayed to prevent growth. It makes inferior seed garlic.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Garlic?
Ideally, you’d get your seed garlic into the ground in fall, about four weeks before your first frost date. It gives the seed time to overwinter and establish bigger bulbs.
As this is such a long-growing crop, please keep in mind that where you plant the garlic will be out of commission for essentially the whole growing season.
Can You Plant Garlic in Spring?
How Deep Should You Plant Garlic?
Create little slots about two inches deep, and two inches apart from each other. I just use my pointer and middle finger.
Can You Plant Garlic From a Clove?
Yes! For best results, choose the biggest and best cloves to plant.
How To Plant Garlic – Step by Step
First, find out which growing zone you are located in. That will dictate your planting window.
Then, prepare your growing space. A few weeks before planting, break up the soil and add amendments (fertilizers) as needed. I use my pitchfork – aka the chicken crap scooper – to turn up the soil.
I add two wheelbarrows full of composted chicken manure, and two bags full of used coffee grounds and till it in with a pitchfork. Each garden will need different amendments based on your growing conditions.
Break apart the cloves, trying your best to keep them wrapped in their papery covers. You are going to leave the skin on the cloves when planting garlic. Hold the garlic so the pointy end is pointing towards the sky and the root end goes into the soil. Push down into the hole two inches deep.
When To and How to Harvest Garlic
How to Cure Garlic
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I have two beds, both hard and soft neck! Planted them in October, I think. Which means despite our weird weather, they’ve had a couple of nights below freezing to form cloves. Now if we can just avoid the dreaded rust, I’m all good for about 100 garlic bulbs over June and August!
Did you grow any last year? Are you able to use your own seed garlic yet?
My birthday is October 5th so I always plant garlic as my birthday present to myself. That’s how I know when to get it in the ground.
I didn’t grow it last year, grew the year before last and the garlic rust was out of control so I didn’t want to grow last year or reuse the bulbs. Having a birthday in October is a handy reminder, my birthday is in August and I always try to plant out my leeks, kale and chard for the winter during that week!
Thanks for the step by step! I miss gardening and I’m hoping to be able to have another garden when we get to CA.
if i will plant it on sunny days do i need to water it?
If there is rain in your forecast in the next day or so, then I wouldn’t worry about watering it. If you’re in a dry spell then yes give it a good soaking once a week.
Could I plant the garlic in a medium size pot?
Technically, yes. But you need to make sure the drainage is excellent and you’ll likely need to feed the soil a few times during the growing process. Make sure the fertilizer you use is suitable for both garlic and container gardening. Because garlic needs a pretty wide berth your yield will likely be low if you have limited planting space.
Hey Sarah – have you ever considered curing/storing your garlic by braiding and hanging it? My other favorite blog, The Art of Doing Stuff (I admit, I have cheated on you, but I still love you!!) had a great article on garlic. Here is the link:
And once you read Karen’s blog you will understand why I am a two timing blog whore
Cathy, I plant hard neck which you can’t braid. We’re stuck with just stuffing them in old citrus sacks, or nylons. It’s not nearly as a pretty as a braid, but hardneck does have a more “garlicky” garlic flavor.
And I’ll totally check out that website, since you are cheating on me with that hussy! HA!! I bet she is fantastic.
I’m afraid to plant garlic. The stuff I buy from the store doesn’t even last a month, so I’m afraid of planting and harvesting a ton of garlic and then having it all go bad.
This is my second year growing it, but the last time I grew it was a few years ago. It lasted about 9 months before sprouting! Make sure it’s properly cured and properly stored, and it should be ok.
! I’ve been dreaming of planting/harvesting my own garlic. I use it in just about everything. I’ve got to try it if it’s this easy!
Oh yeah baby, that’s my kinda farmin!
LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! Rock on sista!
So… after you have tons of garlic to harvest, how do you store it long term?
Ah, very good question! You “cure” the heads of garlic after harvesting it. I laid mine on a window screen over saw horses in our garage for a month. It dried out the paper/peel and makes it ready for long-term storage.
I’m being wicked lazy and the garlic remains on the screen. In my garage. I’m exploring ways to store them, and have seen some cool stuff about using pantyhose!
Thanks so much for the reply!
I planted garlic for the first time last October and it grew beautifully. I used cloves (not seeds) and planted them like you described. I got lots of huge, healthy garlic by May-June. I planted more right before Christmas (I heard that there was something special about planting on winter solstice and harvesting on the 4th of July) but those didn’t grow nearly as well as the others. I’m getting ready to plant again this month.