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How to Grow Garlic

Growing garlic is easy and inexpensive. This wikiHow will teach you how to grow garlic, including sourcing, cultivating, harvesting, and storing.

Part One of Five:
Preparing to Grow Garlic
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  1. 1
    Find out when to plant garlic in your region. In general, the best times for planting are mid-autumn or early spring.
    • Garlic grows well in a wide range of climates. It does less well in areas of high heat or humidity, or where there is a lot of rainfall.
  2. 2
    Choose a planting spot and prepare the soil. Garlic needs a lot of full sun, but it might tolerate partial shade provided it's not for very long during the day or growing season. The soil must be well dug over and crumbly. Sandy loam is best.
    • Before adding nutrients to your soil, you should know what is already there. If you haven't done a soil test, contact your local county extension office for a soil sampling kit.[1]
    • Ensure that the soil has good drainage. Clay-based soils are not good for planting garlic.
    • Use compost and manure to add nutrients to the soil before planting the garlic.
  3. 3
    Source fresh garlic. Garlic is grown by planting the cloves — called seeds for our purposes — so to get started all you need to do is buy fresh garlic. Choose garlic from a store, or even better, a farm stand or the local farmers market. It's very important that the garlic bulbs chosen are fresh and of high quality. If you can, choose organic garlic so that you avoid garlic that has been sprayed with chemicals.
    • Choose fresh garlic bulbs with large cloves. Avoid garlic that has become soft.
    • Each clove will sprout into a garlic plant, so keep that in mind when you're figuring out how many heads to buy.
    • If you have some garlic at home that has sprouted, that's great to use.
    • Nurseries also offer garlic bulbs for planting. Visit a nursery if you want to get a specific variety or to get advice on local conditions for garlic.
    • Mail-order catalogs and online seed stores offer many types of garlic and will include specific planting instructions for the type of seed you buy.
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Part Two of Five:
Planting the Garlic
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  1. 1
    Break the cloves from a fresh garlic head. Be careful not to damage the cloves at their base, where they attach to the garlic plate. If the base is damaged, the garlic will not grow.
    • Plant the larger cloves. The smaller cloves take up just as much space in the planting bed, but they produce much smaller bulbs.
  2. 2
    Push each clove into the soil. Point the tips upward and plant the cloves about 2 inches (5cm) deep.
    • The cloves should be spaced about 8 inches (20cm) apart for best growing conditions.
  3. 3
    Cover the planted cloves with mulch. Suitable toppings include hay, dry leaves, straw, compost, well rotted manure, or well rotted grass clippings.
  4. 4
    Fertilize the cloves or top-dress with compost. The planted garlic needs a complete fertilizer at the time of planting.
    • Fertilize again in the spring if you are planting your garlic in the fall, or in the fall if you're planting it in the spring.
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Part Three of Five:
Caring for Garlic Plants
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  1. 1
    Water the plants when necessary. Newly planted garlic needs to be kept moist to help the roots to develop. Don't overdo the water, however, as garlic does not grow well, or may even rot, if sodden during cold months.
    • Water deeply once a week if rain has not fallen. Watering garlic is not necessary unless there is a drought, in which case water sparingly, as garlic hates wet soil.
    • Reduce the watering gradually as the season warms up. The garlic needs a hot, dry summer to allow the bulbs to mature.
  2. 2
    Take care of pests. Insects, mice, and other creatures may come to eat the garlic or make a nest among the plants. Beware the following pests:
    • Aphids seem to enjoy garlic leaves, and the flower buds. They're easy to get rid of — simply rub your fingers over them and squash them or apply a pesticide.
    • Many people tend to plant garlic underneath roses to deter aphids; the roses benefit from the aphids being drawn away.
    • Mice and other small creatures sometimes nest in mulch. If you have a problem with mice in your area, consider using plastic mulch or landscaping fabric.
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Part Four of Five:
Harvesting the Garlic
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  1. 1
    Eat some scapes. As the garlic plants begin to grow, long green stalks called scapes will emerge. Pull off a few scapes and eat them if you wish. The best part of the scape is the young, tender shoot.
    • This may damage the garlic bulbs themselves, so don't do it to every plant.
    • Use gloves when pulling off scapes; otherwise your hands will smell of garlic for days.
  2. 2
    Note the signs of readiness for harvesting. Garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested when you can feel the individual cloves in the bulb, and the leaves turn yellow or brown.
    • Once the scapes start to dry, it is important to harvest the garlic or the head will "shatter" and divide into the individual cloves.
    • Begin harvesting at the end of the summer. Harvesting can continue well into autumn in most places.
    • Some warm climates may enable earlier harvesting of garlic.
  3. 3
    Loosen the area around each bulb with a shovel or garden fork. Pull the bulbs out of the ground. If using a fork, be careful not to stab the bulbs underground.
    • Be careful with the digging process, since garlic tends to bruise easily.
    • The plants should be kept complete and unwashed, and hung up to "cure" for two weeks. The ideal temperature is 80°F (26.7°C) for curing. Once cured, the outer flaky layers of the bulb can be brushed off, leaving clean skin below. Trim the tops and the roots, and store in a cool, dry place.
    • Washing garlic will prolong the curing process and potentially cause it to rot. Also, if the garlic is not cured, it will rot quickly in the pantry.
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Part Five of Five:
Storing Garlic
Edit

  1. 1
    Store garlic in a cool, dry place in your home. Dried bulbs can be kept in a garlic keeper (usually made from pottery), and individual cloves can be pulled off as needed.
  2. 2
    Make a garlic plait or braid. The dried leaves can be kept back and plaited or braided into a strand, from which you can hang the garlic bulbs in your pantry or kitchen. This is both decorative and useful.
  3. 3
    Store garlic in oil or vinegar. Garlic cloves can be kept in oil or vinegar. However, to avoid the potential for bacterial growth, keep in the refrigerator and consume quickly.
    • WARNING: Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil.
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Community Q&A

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Add New Question
  • The tips of the leaves on several of my garlic plants have turned yellow so I dug one up but it didn't have any separate cloves and didn't seem to be fully grown. What am I doing wrong?
    Answered by Andrew Carberry
    • The tips may have turned yellow from under-watering or some other reason. Wait until the entire plant has changed color to harvest. If the bulbs are still small, conduct a soil test to see if you have the proper amount of nutrients to support growth.
    Thanks! 58 9
  • If I plant my garlic without mulch will it die?
    Answered by Andrew Carberry
    • Mulch helps to keep the young shoots from freezing during the winter, and helps keep the soil cool and moist in the summer. It may not die, but the plants will produce smaller and fewer bulbs without mulch.
    Thanks! 46 21
  • Can one cut, rather than pull, a few scapes to eat?
    Answered by Andrew Carberry
    • Yes, scapes can be cut from the plant to eat. It is best to cut a few of the small, tender scapes. Do not continually cut the same plant or you will compromise the bulb growth below ground.
    Thanks! 46 24
  • A round bulb like thing grows at the top of the garlic stalk. Should this be cut off or let alone?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The bulb like thing is called a scape, most hard necked varieties of garlic produce these. It is the garlics flowering pod which contains many seeds or bulbils. Some people pick them off and eat them finding them to have a delightful flavor. However, picking them is not suggested as some varieties actually produce much larger garlic bulbs if the scapes are left untouched. In addition, you may wish to leave some of the garlic plants in the ground longer than your usual harvest time. The scapes will at some point burst open and you can collect the seeds to use as starters for a new crop of garlic.
    Thanks! 116 21
  • Last year I got some big garlic. Just one big one. No cloves.
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It's possible that the garlic you bought was sprayed with anti-rooting chemicals, which may have let the leaves sprout but no bulb develop. If you just got one bulb without cloves, consider that you harvested it too early, before cloves could develop. It will still be edible, just no cloves.
    Thanks! 91 27
  • Is it right to remove the garlic flower head before it opens?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes. Scapes (flowers) only appear on hardneck varieties and can be eaten and used much like a chive or green onion would be. Cutting them back at the right time can help the plant send more energy into the bulb, resulting in a larger head.
    Thanks! 86 29
  • How long does it take to roast garlic?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in a clay pot for 40-45 minutes at 350ºF.
    Thanks! 37 10
  • How long after planting will I see something break through the ground?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You should have sprouts in about 4 weeks.
    Thanks! 62 20
  • Can you plant garlic in a planter in the house?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, you can. Make sure that the planter is near a window and the temperature does not fluctuate drastically.
    Thanks! 61 20
  • Does garlic really kill parasites?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • There's decent evidence that eating garlic can help against some parasites and bacteria. The active ingredient (allicin) only appears in fresh, raw garlic that's been crushed, chopped, or chewed. Aged or cooked garlic will not have much effect.
    Thanks! 62 22
Show more answers
  • If the seeds from the flower heads are planted, how long before a garlic bulb can be harvested?
  • What is the best time to plant garlic in Washington?
  • Which is the best time to plant garlic in Pennsylvania?
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Quick Summary

The easiest way to grow garlic is to break a clove off and plant it 2 inches (5 cm) deep, pointy-side-up. Cover it with mulch and compost and water weekly.

TipsEdit

  • Big cloves tend to equal big bulbs.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • Save a bulb or two of garlic from this year's harvest to break into cloves and plant next fall.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • For clay soil get sand, mix it in and plant the clove. It really works!
    1 Helpful?  0
  • Garlic is very cold-hardy. You can plant it in the fall, leave it in the ground over the winter and harvest at the end of the next summer.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • While it's perfectly all right to plant grocery store or farm stand garlic, you may want to try other varieties. Visit nurseries or nursery websites for many more options, including other colors.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • If you harvest a garlic bulb that is small, don't be disappointed, you can use it to plant more!
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Harvest when the lower leaves have browned and five or six green leaves remain. The latter will dry to form the papery sheath that protects the garlic and extends storage.
    1 Helpful?  0
Add

WarningsEdit

  • Don't let the garlic dry out in the ground. This will cause the bulb to split.
    19 Helpful?  4
  • Don't freeze garlic bulbs. They will turn to mush and be unsuitable for reuse.
    18 Helpful?  7

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Garlic cloves
  • Fertilizer, well rotted manure or compost
  • Hay, straw, well rotted grass clippings (mulch)
  • Watering equipment
  • Shovel or trowel for digging

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Expert Review By:

AC
Professional Gardener

This version of How to Grow Garlic was reviewed by Andrew Carberry on January 20, 2017.

265 votes - 95%
Co-authors: 30
Updated:
Views: 1,365,386

Reader Success Stories

  • SL

    Shahida Lotfi

    May 3

    "Vancouver receives a lot of rain, so it can be hard to keep the garlic plant from drowning. I have planted some cloves in the ground and some in pots in March. I am waiting to see the results. I shall grow another batch in the fall. Great site."..." more
  • GA

    Geoffrey Antoine

    Apr 26

    "Very well detailed so it makes it easy to follow, thank you."
  • BD

    Billy Doyle

    Apr 8

    "Was considering planting some sprouted garlic. Article detailed what was involved; cannot do this thing, the knowledge of which is just as important."..." more
    Rated this article:
  • SE

    Susan Ell

    Mar 11

    "Excellent article supported by informative illustrations. Well done. Thanks for all this good information."
  • GC

    George Crew

    Mar 10

    "Very helpful. I had some "sprouting" garlic and didn't want to throw it away, so I am going to try this and see what happens."..." more
  • EA

    Edwin Anusu

    Feb 2

    "I would like to start small scale farming.The article has given me a lot of insight in garlic planting, growing and harvesting. I am already trying out a few cloves and they have already germinated and I hope all will be well.Kenya imports a lot of garlic!"..." more
  • AC

    Angela Coles

    Feb 1

    "My garlic cloves are sprouting green leaves and young roots and I wanted to know how deep to transplant into a big pot in the house (Canada February minus zero temps). Thank you!"..." more
  • LE

    Lynton Evans

    Dec 10, 2017

    "I needed to know when to harvest, it was a great help."
  • MB

    Madelin Bach

    Mar 31, 2017

    "We have an onion and garlic box at home, and when I was passing by today, I noticed a garlic's cloves had all sprouted. I'm not exactly sure how they did, but we divided to make the best of it and plant the cloves. We've never planted garlic before, and this site definitely had the best instructions."..." more
    Rated this article:
  • LM

    Leonard Montroy

    Jul 19, 2016

    "I love to grow garlic. I planted 150 cloves for my use and to give away. I plant on Columbus day here in Ogdensburg, NY, harvest about 1st week of August or when leaves are about 75 percent dry. Your article reminded me what type of fertilizer and mulch to use."..." more
  • AS

    Anna Sheldrick

    Mar 30, 2016

    "Clear, easy, step-by-step instructions and extra tips. Paid $60 for a workshop but forgot one of the watering steps, so I had to look it up, only to find that everything I needed was here. I know where to go the next time I want a lesson. Fantastic. Thank you."..." more
  • TD

    Thom DeMars

    Mar 22, 2016

    "Very helpful. I am a gardener. My wife and I are in our 70s and we enjoy gardening, harvesting, and eating our harvest. We have not grown garlic before. We intend to plant in the fall. I'm sure we will visit your site a few more times. Thank you."..." more
  • JA

    JoAnne Armstrong

    Jul 19, 2016

    "This was my first year of planting garlic. I wanted to be sure we were doing everything right to ensure a good yield. The instructions provided gave me the confidence I was doing what was necessary to have a good crop. Thank you so much."..." more
  • HD

    Harry DeFourneau

    Sep 13, 2016

    "Yes, since I read an article stating that 80% of the garlic in the US is imported from China and is doused with pesticides and a polluted growth environment, I now plan to grow my own. Thank you, your article was very informative."..." more
  • DD

    David Dees

    Apr 5, 2016

    "Really good information. I have a garlic patch but it doesn't grow as big as I'd like. After reading this article, I now know my soil is too heavy with clay. I'll be building a raised garden with potting soil to loosen my soils."..." more
  • MB

    Monica Burke

    Nov 13, 2016

    "This my first time to try grow garlic and I am amazed at how simple it is to do so. Thank you so much for the information on what to do with my next step. I can't wait to see how it turns out for me. Thank you."..." more
  • JT

    Jayla Tam

    Apr 27, 2016

    "Pictures and clear instructions made this very easy to understand. I'm trying to regrow garlic but it has stopped growing. This helped me figure out where I went wrong so I can to fix it. Wish me luck!"..." more
  • SW

    Sharon Wood

    Apr 11, 2016

    "I did not know how to plant garlic before reading this article and now I do. I'm so tired of the garlic in grocery stores being so dried out. I decided to plant my own this year. I'll see how it goes."..." more
  • LV

    Lynn Vega

    May 5, 2016

    "Very helpful instructions. I live in the desert, so I was worried that the garlic wouldn't have enough water, but that's no longer a problem. I'm off to start planting. Thank you for your help."..." more
  • AS

    Ann Sparks

    Jul 29, 2017

    "The images of location, animated. I am very visual, and learn best by animated artwork. Cool, now I know that near my downspout, where it's often moist, is not a good place to plant garlic."..." more
  • CA

    Carol Albrecht

    May 11, 2016

    "I love the step-by-step instructions with pictures! It's very helpful knowing what type of soil is best! I printed it out so I can refer to it once I'm ready to get started. Thank you!"..." more
  • PN

    Phyllis Nugent

    May 29, 2017

    "I planted Italian garlic. It grew very well, but then it leaned over and turned brown. The cloves were formed, but they were small. Your article made me realize that they were ready."..." more
  • MG

    Michelle G.

    Jul 10, 2016

    "I feel the whole article was definitely helpful! Loved the step-by-step narration. Completely simplified and extremely educational, especially for a newbie like myself! Thans! 😁"..." more
  • RS

    Robert Smith

    Jul 11, 2016

    "You have great illustrations with super pictures that my children can follow for their gardening project, but when I print it out, I don't get those great pictures, just printing. "..." more
  • BH

    Becca Hendricks

    Apr 11, 2016

    "Excellent article as I am a new gardener! I use garlic a lot and plan to grow it from cloves that I bought at the grocery store. I can't wait to see them growing in my garden!"..." more
  • ND

    N. D.

    Mar 30, 2016

    "Awesome, very helpful. I'm excited to try. I live in the Southern Hemisphere in a winter rainfall part of my country, so I'll plant in summer/spring. Great illustrations!"..." more
  • CO

    Chris Omeluch

    May 11, 2016

    "Super tips, easy to read and process, and great pictures. I like pictures. I now know more about garlic and growing it than I ever have! wikiHow is really great."..." more
  • MG

    Michelle G.

    Jul 10, 2016

    "Very educational and simplified! Can't wait to plant my garlic this fall. Thank you so much, this was a wonderful article on how to plant garlic for newbies!"..." more
  • JP

    John Porter.

    Nov 9, 2016

    "Having never grown garlic before, I found your article most helpful. It's early November here in southern England so am going to give it a try. Thank you. "..." more
  • LC

    Lorraine Childress

    Jun 24, 2016

    "Just bought the house I'm in, and a friend told me I had garlic growing. I knew nothing about growing it and what to do. This has answered my questions."..." more
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