How to Grow Garlic

 How to Grow Garlic

1. Plant cloves directly in the ground about 4-6 weeks before the soil freezes (the soil usually freezes in mid to late December in Connecticut). Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb - which may in turn contain up to ten to twelve cloves.

2. Choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp. To avoid disease problems, don’t plant garlic in the same spot two years running.

3. Dig to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, and amend the soil with a 2-3 inch layer of compost to ensure the ideal combination of fertility, good drainage and moisture retention. Add a pinch of Coast of Maine or Sustane organic fertilizer to each planting hole.

4. Remove all traces of weeds; they'll easily win out over garlic's grass-like foliage.

5. Plant only the largest cloves from the bulb, and discard any that are pitted or tinged blue-green - both are signs of mold.

6. Set unpeeled cloves, pointy end up, 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. Rows should be about 14-18 inches apart.

7. Top-dress the plants with Coast of Maine compost. Once the ground has frozen mulch the bed (chopped leaves or shredded straw are good for this) to protect plants from the cold. If you skip this step, the cloves will heave out of the ground.

8. In spring, feed with Coast of Maine or Sustane organic fertilizer and add a fresh thinner layer of mulch when new growth begins. To ensure large bulbs, cut off the flower stalks that develop (these are called garlic scapes and are edible and delicious!) and fertilize young plants with Neptune’s Harvest fish and seaweed twice during the spring
and early summer.

9. Provide an inch of water a week. Either in the form of rain or hand watering. Do not overwater garlic.

10. Clip garlic leaves to use any time, but remove no more than 1/4 of a plant's top growth or you'll reduce bulb size.

11. Begin harvesting bulbs in summer when the plants have five or six green leaves, and the bottom leaves have begun to turn brown. In our area of CT, that is usually in mid July.

12. To harvest, drive a garden fork beneath the plants (be careful not to damage the bulbs), gently pry them loose, and then pull them out. Brush off any excess soil, and lay the plants in a pile. As soon as you’ve finished harvesting, move the plants to an airy location that is protected from sun and rain.

13. To cure garlic in preparation for storage, hang the bare bulbs with their foliage in bundles or spread them out on a table or rack. You can begin eating them right away, but bulbs intended for storage must be cured.

14. After a few weeks of curing, clean the bulbs carefully. Trim the stalks from 2”-12” above the bulb, and trim the roots close to the bulb. Rub off the outer layer of skin around the bulb, and use a nailbrush or toothbrush to gently remove any soil clinging to the base. Try not to remove more wrapper layers than you have to. Store the bulbs in a well-ventilated, dark spot. Set aside the biggest bulbs for re-planting in the fall.


In an effort to provide horticultural information, these educational documents are written by Nancy DuBrule-Clemente and are the property of Natureworks Horticultural Services, LLC. You are granted permission to print/photocopy this educational information free of charge as long as you clearly show that these are Natureworks documents.