Growing Garlic and How To Plant And Grow Garlic In Your Garden

Growing garlic is a luxury for cooks who love fresh seasonings. Plant and grow healthy, fragrant garlic in your garden bed or a container.

How to Grow Garlic

Growing garlic (Allium sativum) in the garden is great for those of us who cook as well as those who dine! Try growing some fresh garlic in a kitchen garden for a delicious and handy seasoning. It's a snap to grow at home and is a staple seasoning for dishes of many cultures and countries. Let's take a look at how easy it is to plant and grow garlic.

Tips For Growing Garlic

Growing garlic requires cool temperatures. Garlic can be planted in the fall and, if you live in a cold- winter zone, go ahead and plant garlic four to six weeks before you expect the ground to freeze. This gives the plant time for its roots to establish themselves in the cool months.

By early spring they're ready to produce those delicious bulbs. In milder climate zones you can continue to plant garlic through winter up until February.

How to Plant Garlic

The great thing about planting garlic is you can simply use store-bought cloves. We recommend choosing organically grown garlic. If you’ve purchased a fresh bulb you really like, separate the cloves without peeling their papery coating. Select the largest, healthiest-looking cloves to plant.

Gardener Planting Rows Of Garlic Cloves In A Raised Garden Bed

(Image credit: MementoImage)

Sunlight

Garlic plants appreciate full sun. Locate a spot in your garden bed or determine the sunniest location where a large pot or planter can sit where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day.

Soil

Whether in a raised bed or a ground-level garden, garlic likes loose, well-draining soil. Sandy clay loam is great. It’s a good idea to add some organic matter like compost or well-aged manure. Some experts recommend a dose of lime. Otherwise, dig in two tablespoons of 5-10-10 fertilizer, fish meal or bone meal deep below where the garlic clove will be seated.

Planting

Be sure to give your garlic plants plenty of room to grow. In well-draining soil garlic has been known to develop root systems that can grow up to 3 feet (.9 m) deep, so a bed or container should be at least a foot tall.

Plant the cloves 2 inches (5 cm) deep and leave a few inches between them, or up to 6-12 inches (15-31 cm) for larger bulbs. Cloves should go into the soil with the fat end at the bottom, the root end at the top.

If you’re planting rows of garlic, they do best spaced 12-18 inches (30-46 cm) between the rows. For larger bulbs, space them even further apart. After planting your garlic cloves, spread some light mulch over them.

Watering

If there isn't much rain in your area, water the garlic plants while they’re growing just as you would any other green plant in your garden. However, in warmer summer months, garlic does not need much water as the bulbs grow.

Fertilizing

In early spring when the green plants have emerged and are growing it’s fine to fertilize them, but stop feeding them in spring once they begin to form bulbs. Early spring feeding is best done with organic fertilizer and can be done periodically until the bulbs begin to respond to longer days as spring approaches.

Problems

Garlic plants do not appreciate weeds and don’t compete well with them, so be sure the area stays well-weeded. Otherwise, garlic has very few problems from insects and disease.

Harvesting

To keep your bulbs growing larger, it’s best to remove the flowering stems as they appear in spring and early summer. However, the small, tender shoots are delicious and edible.

Begin to check for mature cloves around mid-summer for harvesting. Look for a strong covering of dry, papery skin, and check when the leaves of the plants begin to turn brown.

Curing

Freshly harvested garlic bulbs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Garlic needs to cure and dry before it is stored. Dry the bulbs in a dry, warm space for a few days before removing the tops and the roots. Or, braid the green leaves together and hang them in a well-ventilated location. Air-dried garlic lasts 5 to 8 months.

For the long term consider freezing, drying, pickling or using the cloves to flavor oils and vinegars.

Other Uses and Companions

In addition to adding flavor to food, garlic is useful in other ways. It can be effective when used to make an insecticidal spray, which is much safer than chemicals and easy to make at home.

Another advantage to growing garlic is when it's planted among other garden plants, it repels aphids and spider mites.

There is a long list of plants that will grow happily near garlic. However don't plant asparagus, peas, beans, sage, and parsley near garlic as it can stunt their growth.

Italian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Peruvian, Mediterranean and American are just some of the cuisines that use garlic as a staple. The British Heart Foundation says, “Garlic has long been associated with health benefits – from curing a cold to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium, but it's a chemical called allicin, a type of antioxidant, which is thought to be responsible for its positive effects.”

We love it just because it’s delicious.

Caroline Bloomfield
Manager of Marketing Communications

Caroline Bloomfield is Manager of Marketing Communications at Gardening Know How since 2019. A northwest native, she has resided and gardened in multiple zones in the U.S. and is currently at home in Eugene, Oregon. Writing and editing for various publications since 1998, her BA in American Studies from Southern Maine University includes an emphasis in English. She was raised in California by avid gardeners and continues to enjoy the natural world with an appreciation for the concepts of sustainability and organic care for the planet.

With contributions from