All About Growing Garlic

Here is a concise primer on growing garlic that covers varieties, how and when to plant, pest prevention, and harvesting and storage.

| October/November 2009

  • Growing garlic
    Your reward for growing garlic is the world of flavors that await in every bulb! Garlic’s taste has several dimensions that come alive depending on how the plant is cooked. Shown here, from left to right, are braided softneck garlic, fresh elephant garlic, and purple stripe hardneck garlic.
    ILLUSTRATION: KEITH WARD
  • Garlic bulb
    Wait until just before planting to break your garlic bulbs into cloves. One pound of cured bulbs will split into about 50 individual cloves, which is enough to plant a 25-foot-long double row.
    KEITH WARD

  • Growing garlic
  • Garlic bulb

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

The last crop to go into the garden, garlic is planted in fall and harvested the following summer. Flavorful, nutritious, and helpful for warding off vampires, garlic also is easy to grow as long as you plant varieties suited to your climate. Fertile, well-drained soils with a near-neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.0 are best for growing garlic.

Garlic Types to Try

Softneck types grow best where winters are mild, though some tolerate cold to Zone 5. Most varieties do not produce scapes (edible curled flower stalks), but softnecks are great for braiding. Subtypes include Creole, artichoke and many Asian varieties.

Hardneck types adapt to cold winter climates, and all produce delicious curled scapes in early summer. Popular subtypes include porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole varieties.



Elephant garlic produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves. Closely related to leeks, elephant garlic is hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch.

Check out our Chart of Garlic Types, which includes descriptions, growing tips, and great varieties to try. 

psr
7/28/2017 11:44:03 AM

just harvested some garlic; and attached to the heads are garbanzo looking what i think are seeds, but what are they? Phil psr@tm.net


jackiefrey
7/14/2017 3:43:07 PM

Is it time to harvest the soft neck variety when the stalks wither and turn brown?


Sue
10/17/2015 9:56:26 AM

Regarding the comment about being allergic, or sensitive to garlic. Often we are unable to properly digest certain foods due to a condition called "leaky gut." Foods pass through the digestive tract not properly broken down and so alert the immune system that an invader is present. That offending food is targeted by the immune system and symptoms result. The way to heal "leaky gut" is to follow a protocol that facilitates this. One such protocol is GAPS - Gut & Psychology/Physiology Syndrome which removes foods that are contributing to leaky gut and encourages eating those that will heal and seal the digestive tract. There are other, such as Donna Gate's Body Ecology Diet. The important thing is that whichever one is chosen, it is followed long enough to achieve this level of healing. Once this occurs, individual usually find that not only can they again eat garlic, for example, but can eat other foods that previously gave them issue. Another possible cause may be liver related. In that case making sure pathways of elimination are functioning well first, followed by a good detox, may be what is required. I hope this is helpful! Sue Clinton RN, RHN Greater Kingston Weston A. Price Foundation Co-Chapter Leader Certified GAPS Practitioner






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