Sowing/Planting: Garlic is grown from cloves taken from garlic bulbs. The cloves are planted like seeds. Seed clove size is important: larger cloves yield bulbs larges than small cloves. Cloves should be chilled in storage at 41°F (5°C) for several months before planting. Garlic prefers short, cool days at the start of growth and long, warm days to produce bulbs. Plant cloves in early spring up to 6 weeks before the last expected frost for a summer harvest. Plant in autumn about 6 weeks before the soil freezes for a harvest the following mid- to late-summer. Plant cloves 2” (5 cm) deep. Set cloves pointed end up. Grow garlic in compost-rich, well-drained soil in full sun.
Garlic prefers steady water, but do not saturate the soil. Add compost to the soil in the spring. Spray plants with liquid seaweed extract 2-3 times during the growing season. If seed stalks appear in spring, pick them off promptly. In early summer, when flower stalks appear, pinch them back allowing the plant to devote its energy to bulb development. After flowering when stems yellow, bend the stems sharply to the ground but do not break them. This is called “lodging”—lodging promotes bulb formation and the drying of the top foliage.
Harvest garlic in the summer when tops have begun to yellow and are partially dry and bend to the ground or 2-3 weeks after lodging when heads are fully formed. Take up bulbs with a spading fork. Remove any clinging soil and allow heads to dry (cure) for 3-4 weeks. Heads can be placed on screens to dry. Outer skins will turn pappery. Curing is complete when the skins are dry and stand the necks are tight. Store cured garlic in a well-ventilated container or nylon net bag in a cool, dry, dark place. Bulbs may start to shrink if stored at temperatures above 77°F (25°C); cloves may sprout if temperatures fall to around 41°F (5°C).
See Full Details of Planting Garlic Bellow:
Garlic is a cool-weather perennial plant commonly planted in the cool of autumn or in early spring.
Garlic–which is often classified as an herb–is grown from cloves selected from medium to large bulbs, called heads, harvested the season before. You can plant cloves from garlic heads purchased at a grocery store or farm market as long as they have not been treated to prevent sprouting.
Garlic requires a long season for optimal yield; garlic’s long season of growth must include 6 or more weeks of chilly weather for optimal bulb or head production. Allow eight months to maturity after autumn planting for the largest bulbs; spring planted garlic (set out 6 weeks before the last frost) will reach maturity in about 100 days, but bulbs will not be as large as autumn planted garlic.
Garlic can tolerate frost, but autumn planted cloves should be protected from frost heaving and freezing ground in cold-winter regions. Garlic can be grown in containers.
For tips on cooking with garlic, click here for Garlic: Kitchen Basics.
Description. Garlic has solid, narrow, strap-shaped stalks that can grow 12 to 24 inches tall and 6 to 8 inches wide. Underground, garlic forms round, white papery sheathed bulbs or heads. A head is divided into a cluster of individual cloves. Garlic bulbs form 4 to 5 inches below the soil surface. Garlic flowers in spring and summer; small, white to pinkish flowers form atop globular umbels atop, a tall central stalk.
Types of Garlic: There are three botanical groups of garlic:
• Softneck garlic: The necks of this garlic type are soft and pliable at maturity. Softneck is the strongest-flavored garlic. It is less winter hardy than hardneck garlic but stores better. ‘Silverneck’ is a soft-neck suited to cool climates. ‘Red Torch’ is a softneck suited for warm climates.
• Harneck, also called Rocambole, and Spanish garlic: This garlic has a stiff central stem or neck which curls at the top forming a 360° coil. This garlic has a mild flavor. Harneck garlic is commonly left in the ground for two years before harvesting. ‘German Porcelain’ is a hard-neck type. ‘Killarney Red’ is a harneck garlic.
• Elephant garlic: Elephant garlic is not true garlic; it is a type of leek. This plant gets its name from its size; it has large fist-size bulbs weighing up to ½ pound or more. Elephant garlic has a mild flavor.
Yield. One softneck garlic head will yield 10 to 40 cloves. One hardneck garlic head will yield 4 to 12 cloves. There are about 50 cloves in one pound.
Site. Garlic requires full sun for best growth and bulb production. Grow garlic in well-drained, sandy-loam, a soil rich in organic matter if possible, but average soil will suffice. Prepare planting beds in advance by working in 1 to 2 inches of well-rotted compost. Chives prefer a soil pH of 4.5 to 8.3. Don’t plant garlic in heavy, clay, or constantly wet soil.
Planting time. Plant garlic in the fall—as early as September in the North–for harvest the following July or August; plant garlic as late as December in the South for a harvest as early as the following May. Garlic prefers short, cool days at the start of leafy growth and later long, warm days to produce bulbs prior to harvest. For the best bulb development, planted cloves need to be exposed to chilly soil and weather—below 40°F. Autumn-planted garlic yield bigger cloves than garlic planted in spring.
In mild-winter regions, give cloves a pre-planting cold treatment by putting them in potting soil in a plastic bag and setting them in the refrigerator for 8 weeks or more. When the cloves begin to sprout, plant them out into the garden. In cold-winter regions, protect cloves from frost-heaving and severe cold by insulating the planting bed with 6 inches of straw or dry leaves after cloves have been planted 2 to 4 inches below the soil surface.
Planting and spacing. Garlic is grown vegetatively from the cloves formed in each bulb. The size of the seed clove is important to yield. A large clove will produce the largest bulbs. Small cloves will produce small plants. (The small center cloves you find in a bulb are best used in cooking and not used for planting; their yield will not be significant.) Set cloves about 2 inches deep—a bit deeper if you fear frost heaving or cold damage in cold-winter regions. Set elephant garlic cloves 4 inches deep. Always set cloves pointed end up. Plant cloves 4 to 8 inches apart in all directions. Set cloves of elephant garlic 12 inches apart.
Water and feeding. Garlic prefers steady water, but do not saturate the soil. Garlic is shallow rooted and requires irrigation where rainfall is not adequate. Add compost to the soil in spring. Spray plants with liquid seaweed extract 2 to 3 times during the growing season. Keep nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium moderate.
Companion plants. Beets, brassicas or cabbage family plants, celery, chamomile, lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries. Avoid planting garlic with beans or peas. Do not follow onion family crops.
Care. Garlic requires time to develop bulbs; if plants begin to flower in spring or seed stalks begin to form, pick or break them off promptly allowing the plant to devote its energy to developing bulbs. After flowers form and stems yellow in summer, bend the stems sharply to the ground (this is called “lodging”). Lodging prompts bulb formation; bulbs will grow with little or no top growth. Stop watering about one month after lodging unless the weather is very hot and dry.
Container growing. Garlic can be grown in containers as long as it is positioned in a warm spot and gets regular water. Because garlic requires a long growing period, you may want to interplant garlic with lettuce or another green.
Pests. Aphids, nematodes, and thrips attack garlic. Control aphids and thrips with a strong, steady stream of water or insecticidal soap. Plant nematode resistant varieties or solarize the soil to control nematodes.
Diseases. Botrytis and white rot can attack garlic; control botrytis and other molds with a commercial fungicide that contains baking soda.
Harvest. Garlic is ready for harvest when the tops have begun to yellow and are partially dry and bend to the ground or about 2 to 3 weeks after lodging (see above). Take up bulbs with a spade or spading fork or when they pull up easily from the stem.
Curing. Remove clinging soil and allow head to cure or dry for 3 to 4 weeks. Protect heads from sunburn or rainfall and allow for good air circulation during curing. Outer skins will turn papery. Discard cloves that have blue-green spots or mold. Curing is complete with the skins are dry and the necks are tight.
Storing. Store cured garlic in a well-ventilated container or nylon net bag or in a dry, cool, and dark place. Partially dried garlic can be braided into strands for short-term storage. Bulbs will start to shrink if stored at a temperature above 77°F.
Common name. Garlic
Botanical name. Allium sativum
Origin. Central Asia
Common name. Elephant garlic
Botanical name. Allium scorodoprasum
Fall and Spring Planted Garlic
Plant garlic in late summer or fall and allow it to overwinter for a harvest of large bulbs next summer. Plant garlic in the spring and harvest it in the fall for smaller bulbs (and usually a small yield).
Late summer or fall planted garlic should be in the ground about a month or so before the soil freezes. In warm-winter regions, garlic can be planted in early winter.
Elephant garlic—a very large cultivar and mild flavored—should be planted in late summer allowing time for it to make root growth before cold weather comes.
Protect fall planted garlic with mulch—a thick layer of straw or leaves—to protect bulbs from freezing or heaving
ground. Be sure to mulch the garlic bed before the ground freezes. If you live in a very cold winter region, no amount of mulch may protect bulbs so it may be best to plant in spring as soon as the soil can be worked.
Choose large cloves for planting in fall to produce large bulbs next summer. Small cloves can be planted in spring to grow green garlic for summer harvest.
Planting. Break a garlic bulb into individual cloves; plant individual cloves with the points facing up—blunt end down. Grow garlic in compost rich soil in full sun. Set cloves 4 to 6 inches apart and push cloves 2 inches beneath the soil surface.
Temperature. Garlic germinates in soil temperature of 55°F and grows best in soil temperatures ranging from 55°F to 75°F (13-24°C). Garlic that has established roots will overwinter best.
Mulch. Leave winter mulch in place until spring when daffodils break the soil, then pull mulch back from the garlic bed and spread aged compost across the bed. Thick compost will protect the soil around garlic from drying, or reapply the mulch.
Spring flowers. Garlic will send up a center stalk in spring and a flower bud will develop; snip off the bud to redirect the plant’s energy from producing seed to producing a larger-sized bulb.
Feeding and water. Encourage leafy growth by applying a foliar seaweed or fish emulsion spray every two weeks beginning in spring. Keep the soil evenly moist from spring through early summer for best bulb formation; letting the growing bed go dry will hinder bulb development. Keep weeds out of the garden; they will rob garlic of soil moisture and nutrients.
Harvest. Garlic is ready for harvest when leaves turn brown and begin to die back. Lift bulbs with a garden fork and let them cure in a hot, dry, dark and airy place for a few weeks.
Types of Garlic to Grow:
• Hardneck or rocambole type garlic grows best in cold-winter regions and produces larger bulbs than softneck types. Hardneck bulbs are strong flavored but do not store well. Reliable hardneck varieties include: German Red, Spanish Roja, German Extra Hardy, and Russian Red.
• Softneck or artichoke type garlic produce several layers of small cloves and store well for winter use. Reliable softneck varieties include: California Late, Early Italian Red, and New York White.
• Elephant garlic produces very large cloves and is milder tasting than other varieties.