How to Plant, Grow, Harvest & Store Garlic

Ben Ronniger Last updated on Jul 15, 2024 by

Garlic's natural cycle is to be planted outside in the fall and to be harvested the following spring or summer. Garlic can be planted in the spring and might mature ok, but fall planting usually gets better results. Plant in fall before ground freezes in a part of your garden where garlic has not been grown for at least three years - garlic grows best in soils where crops have been rotated. Work up and loosen top six inches of fertile garden soil.

When your soil is ready, break bulbs apart into cloves and soak the seperated cloves in water containing one heaping tablespoon of baking soda per gallon (Adding a TBSP of liquid seaweed would be nice, but not required.) until clove covers slip off easily (about 2 hours). Remove all covers from all cloves then dip the bare cloves in a dish of rubbing alcohol for 3 to 5 minutes and plant immediately. These soakings are important and help protect both your garlic and your garden soil from possible pathogens or pests.

Plant the individual cloves, bottom (root) end down 2" deep in the South, 3" in most of the USA and 4" deep in the Northernmost states and six inches apart from each other. Lay a few inches of organic mulch over and water as needed. In the South it will come up and grow almost immediately, but in the North it will not emerge until spring.

Our harvested garlic.

While garlic doesn’t need much fertilizer, a little organic compost in the early spring helps. Water weekly or as needed to keep the roots from drying out. You can check by putting your hand down in the soil to bulb depth and if your fingers come out wet, don't water, but if they're dry, water. Since garlic's roots are on its bottom, you can carefully dig down and look at the bulb area to see how they are developing occasionally.

Harvest in spring/summer when all the lower leaves have died down and only the top five or six leaves remain green. Dig them up carefully, avoiding damage to the bulb and roots. Remove to a dry shady location for a month or so until the necks dry down completely and can be cut without a garlicky smell - then trim off leaves and roots. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight.