All You Need To Know On How To Grow Garlic At Home

How do you feel about gardening? Have you tried your skills on growing chillies for example? Time to go one step further! Garlic is a member of the Allium family, along with onions. It has a strong and intense taste and smell and is used to add extra flavour to dishes. However, beyond making pesto taste amazing, it is also an excellent insect repellent and home remedy. It’s used to combat colds, can reduce blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, it’s an antioxidant and so on.

A couple of garlic plants that have been harvested

The best news, though, is that you can become a garlic grower, as it’s an easy-to-grow plant. It doesn’t need much care, just enough moisture, nutrient soil, planting and harvesting when the time comes. There are, though, some details you should know to plant your own successfully. Ready to dive into all the necessary details?

How to choose the types of garlic you’re going to plant

There are many garlic varieties. But for domestic and general purposes, you have to choose between softneck and hardneck, which differ, mainly, in taste and the number of cloves its type produces.

  • Hardneck: This variety is the best option for areas with very cold winters, as it’s resistant to low temperatures. Hardneck varieties have a hard flower stem or else scape that grows inside the bulb. You must remove that to help the bulb grow. Hardneck garlic grows a layer of cloves around the stem, and it produces up to 10 cloves per bulb.
  • Softneck: Softneck garlic type has white skin, and it can’t tolerate cold weathers. It’s the perfect choice if you live in warm climates. It has a soft neck, and it produces around 18 garlic cloves per bulb. Its flavour is stronger than hardneck garlic.

Whilst hardneck and softneck varieties are the most common garlic types, there’s one more resembling hardneck garlic: Great-headed or Elephant garlic.

  • Great-headed or Elephant garlic: This type behaves like a hardneck, but their main difference lies in the taste. It has a mild flavour, and it tastes more like an onion than garlic. What’s more, its bulb and cloves are large, and it produces about 4 cloves per bulb.

Different types of garlic plants on a wooden table

When is the right time to plant garlic?

The best period depends on the area you live in and the weather conditions. If you live in the South and Southwest, you can plant gloves from autumn to early spring. Which means that winter isn’t prohibided! But, if you live further north, the best time to plant is during autumn or during early spring.

As a general rule, you should keep in mind that garlic needs sunny and well-drained sites. It doesn’t love high temperatures and humidity or a lot of rainfall.  However, it needs full sun to grow. Thus, if you have the option, choose a sunny area to plant your garlic in a well-dug soil.

Things you need to do before planting

Before planting garlic, you need to know and do some preparation to ensure successful results.

  1. Choose an area that gets full sun 6-8 hours per day.
  2. Prepare the gardening area. Remove any weeds, add compost and manure to the soil to make it more nutrient. Don’t forget to make sure it’s got good drainage.
  3. If you choose to plant in the spring, you have to wait until the soil is dry. The soil will be ready as soon as it crumbles easily.
  4. It would be best if you planted it in raised garden beds 60-90 cm wide and at least 25-30 cm tall for better drainage. Once the ground has frozen, mulch with 15cm of old hey.
  5. Buy some fresh garlic to plant. Get garlic from a garden centre, a farm stand or a local farmer market. Avoid using cloves from a grocery store. They might be unsuitable types for your area to grow, plus they might have been treated with chemicals to last longer on the store’s shelves. Garlic bulbs have to be fresh.

A man having soil in the palm of his hand

Some more tips:

  • If possible, choose organic garlic as it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.
  • You can plant garlic you’ve already have at home, as long as it has sprouted.
  • A garlic plant will sprout from each clove.

How to plant garlic

Once you’ve found the perfect garlic and soil to grow your own plant, you can begin the planting process. Here are some gardening tips to help you:

  1. First, you need to separate the cloves from the fresh garlic head. Be careful, though, not to damage the clover’s base, as it won’t grow.
  2. Choose the larger cloves to get large bulbs. New bulbs will be approximately the same size as the cloves you’ve planted.
  3. Once you have separated the cloves, push each one into the soil about 2cm deep. Plant cloves with the pointed end facing up and keep a distance between each clove about 20cm.
  4. Next, cover the planted cloves with mulch. To get the best results, you need to cover the cloves with dry leaves, straw, compost, well-rotted manure, or well-rotted grass clippings.
  5. Finally, you need to fertilise your planted crops with compost. Then you’ll have to fertilise them again in the spring if you’re planting in the autumn, and vice versa.

A man planting garlic to his garden

Taking care of your garlic 

Garlic is generally an easy-to-grow plant. You have to: water when necessary, remove weeds using weed killers and remove flowers and scapes. But there are some details you need to consider for the garlic’s proper treatment:

  • Newly planted garlic needs moisture to allow roots to grow. Overwatering, though, might lead to rotting during winter or misgrowing. As garlic is growing, it needs dry soil to let the bulbs evolve.  Thus, as the weather becomes warmer, reduce watering. If there are no rainy days, you should water once a week. 
  • Removing weeds between the plants is essential for the garlic’s development. You should clear all the weeds around the plant to get all the needed nutrients from the soil.
  • Remove any green shoots and scapes from the plant as they may prevent the bulbs from sizing up.
  • Fertilise once you had planted garlic and again in the spring or autumn, depending on when you planted it. You can also try plant food.

But, beyond watering and making sure to keep it free of weeds, you have to take care of pests and diseases in the garden as well. Why? Because they can affect them.  Plus, garlic plants are also at risk from mice and other creatures that can eat them or make nests around them.

Garlic’s growth can be affected by:

  • White rot: It’s a fungus that affects the leaves’ base and the root during cool months. You can’t do much to prevent or control it.  The only thing you can do is rotate your plants and clean the soil after harvesting.
  • Leek rust: It’s also a fungus found mainly in humid climates. You are safe eating a bulb affecting by leek rust, but it would be better to harvest all the affected plants to avoid the disease to spread.
  • Aphids: It’s a small insect that likes garlic leaves and flower buds. You can get rid of them by applying a pesticide or just rubbing your fingers over them and squashing them.
  • Mice, rats, moles and other small animals: These small creatures like nesting in mulch. To prevent them from nesting around your plants, use plastic mulch or landscaping fabric.

a rat walking around in a garden

Harvest time and proper storage

The best harvest garlic period is mid-July to early August when most green leaves will have turned brown. Your garlic will be ready as soon as you can feel the individual cloves. Harvesting garlic before scrapes start to dry is important. Otherwise, the head will be divided into cloves and break into pieces.

But how can you harvest your own garlic without damaging the bulbs?

  1. Dig the bulbs using a trowel or a fork. Be careful, though, because garlic bruises easily,
  2. Lay the garlic bulbs to dry for 2-3 weeks in a shady, well-ventilated area. Don’t wash them.
  3. When the root is dry, scrub to remove any dirt and the outer layer of the bulb.

After harvesting, you can store it. There are three possible ways to store your homegrown garlic:

  1. You can store dried garlic in a garlic keeper made from pottery. Keep them in a cool, dry place to prevent them from going bad and being able to get individual cloves any time you wish.
  2. You can either make a garlic plait or braid with the dried leaves. Once you have made a plait or braid, you can hang them in your pantry, kitchen, or wherever you like.
  3. Finally, you can store garlic in oil or vinegar. Break down cloves and place them in a jar. Fill the jar with oil or vinegar and keep them in the refrigerator. This method is handy if you consume them rather quickly.

IMPORTANT:  If you store garlic in oil, always keep them in the fridge. If you keep them at room temperature, you run a great risk of bacteria growing.

Some garlic that is braided after harvesting for storage reasons

Once you’ve tasted your own garlic, you’ll never buy it from the grocery store again. You can have your own in the garden or a pot on your balcony. It’s very easy to grow and treat. Plant some cloves in the autumn and taste your garlic in early summer. Just make sure you keep your new planted garlic well moist and fertilised. Follow the above gardening tips, and we promise that your garlic will be ready on time, and you’ll enjoy it all year round.

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend