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Planting & Growing Tips

Garlic is an amazing plant to grow both among small farmers and home gardens.  Garlic is usually planted from late September to mid November in the north, and from November through January in the south.  Growers in the North should plant 2-4 weeks before the ground freezes solid in order to ensure good root growth prior to winter freeze.

We break our bulbs apart into individual cloves (popping) and plant the root end down, about 3-4 inches deep depending on the size of the clove.  Spacing between cloves should be anywhere from 5-8 inches apart.  Mulch your cloves with straw, leaves or grass clippings.  In our zone 5a, we mulch about 3-4 inches of straw.

Garlic likes a rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate and adapt to many soil types.  Before planting, do some research to see what kind of soil you have and amend it accordingly.  It is difficult to grow garlic in hard or clay soils with bad drainage.  Hardneck varieties are fussier about soil nutrients and texture than are softnecks.

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Image by Aniket Bhattacharya


In the Spring, when garlic plants are experiencing most of their vegetative growth, water like you would water your other garden plants.  At this time, your garlic might appreciate some Nitrogen.

Bee on Flower


In the Summer, when the weather gets hotter, your garlic is ready to become a bulbing plant.  Don't add anymore Nitrogen at this time.  Any smaller plants you may find at this stage are going to remain weak and will produce small bulbs no matter what you do.

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Hardneck garlics are going to produce a flower stalk at this time called a Scape.  Our scapes usually start showing up around June.  We usually let our Scapes coil one to two times before we cut them.  We cut about a 1/2 inch above the top leaves, careful not to damage any leaves.  Cutting your Scapes is a personal preference, but we've found that this will redirect the energy of your plants to the bulb.

Now it's time to cut back on your watering a bit.  When harvesting approaches, don't keep the soil to wet for any length of time or your bulbs may mold and your garlic skins may stain.

Image by Shelley Pauls

Harvesting & Drying

When harvest approaches, your plants will begin to dry down from the lowest leaf up and from the leaf tips downward, one leaf at a time.  We harvest when about a third of the leaves are completely dry.  We bunch our garlic in groups of 8-12, depending on the variety.  When harvesting, keep your garlic out of direct sunlight as it may sunburn.  You can either hang your garlic in a dry, well ventilated area or lay your garlic on racks.

Your plants should dry within 3-4 weeks depending on your individual conditions.  You may need to use fans.  Check your garlic wrappers inside the bulb to make sure they are dry.  Softnecks and large dense bulbs take longer to cure.

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Never store garlic in the refrigerator or a plastic bag!  Most garlic stores well at room temperature.  The type of garlic is also a factor in storing.  Asiatic and Turbans are the shortest storing garlics.  Purple Stripes and Rocamboles are medium storing (6 months).  Artichoke and Porcelain types can store 8-10 months. 

*When you receive your garlic, please remove it from the box and open the bags so the garlic gets some air...  Enjoy your new friends.

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