Garlic is a delicious root vegetable known for its pungent flavor that can be found in most recipes. We put it on bread, mix it in hummus, use it on proteins, add it to salad dressing, and even use it to ward off vampires. It’s a very versatile and high-demand vegetable, so why not plant some in your garden? With proper planting, you could have enough garlic to use, store, and give to friends and family!
Like all plants, garlic has some growing preferences that need to be acknowledged. There are a few basics to growing garlic — when, where, soil preparation, seed spacing, storage, etc. — that every gardener should know before getting out there and planting.
Best Time to Plant Garlic
The best time to plant garlic is mid-fall. Garlic grows throughout the winter and spring and can be harvested the following summer. It can also be planted in early spring when soil thaws, but the garlic won’t have as much time to develop and mature as it would when planted in autumn.
Pro-tip: Fall planting yields large bulbs.
Where to Plant Garlic, Soil Preparation, and Seed Spacing
Garlic, like most plants, should be planted in a garden that it gets frequent daily sunlight. Because garlic grows in the winter, it’s particularly important that it receive enough warmth to grow. Garlic may prefer cooler temperatures, but if it’s too cold it won’t mature. Much will depend on the soil and protective mulch covering.
For great garlic, ensure the soil is well-drained, loose, and comprised of organic matter. If you really want to have garlic-favorable soil, use soil with a pH balance of 6.5 to 7.0 — near neutral. For gardeners using square-foot gardens, you can plant nine cloves of garlic per square foot. After you’ve placed them in their respective spots (pointed ends up), cover your garden with three to five inches of mulch. It can be hay, chopped leaves, or grass clippings, just as long as it’s thick enough to keep the soil from freezing.
Harvesting and Storing Garlic
As previously mentioned, garlic will be ready to harvest the summer after a fall planting.
Pro-tip: Garlic is ready for harvest when the leaves turn brown.
Loosen the soil around the bulbs before pulling so they aren’t harmed during removal. Pull upwards delicately or else you may bruise them.
Place them in a warm, dry, and airy location protected from the rain and direct sun for about a week so they can dry. Afterward, they are ready for storage. Keep them at 50-60°F in a cool, dry location and they will last for four to eight months. Traditionally, they are kept in mesh bags or braided together and hung to ensure they remain dry.
Garlic is a wonderful vegetable to consider for a winter garden. They pair well with onions and can be utilized in a variety of foods. Because nine cloves can be planted within one square foot, you can raise a thick garden of garlic which can be stored after harvest for long-term use.