Oh my gosh, have you ever had the chance to plant garlic? Once you grow garlic there is no going back to buying garlic at the stores. It tastes so much better as a fresh product and is so easy to grow, anyone can do it. Did you know that within those garlic bulbs is a chemical called allicin? That’s where the aroma comes from. I bet you can almost smell the garlic, right?
I’m updating this post because a dear reader and friend, Jackie P., sent me some of her homegrown garlic. I am beyond honored to receive these Transylvania soft neck garlic bulbs and these Music hard neck garlic bulbs. I can’t wait to plant some of them, and of course, use them in many meals now and in the future! Thank you, Jackie!
This is what Jackie told me, “We grew about 200 bulbs this year. I ordered a new heirloom, Old German, and it will be delivered this fall. We plant before the first frost. It lies dormant over the winter. Pops up in the spring. Plant cloves 2 inches down, 5 inches apart. Cover with 5 inches of straw above the soil level.
Leave the straw on it in the spring. If you have a drought, the straw will keep moisture in there. Dig up carefully the last week of June. If a prediction of lots of rain is coming, dig it up right before that. Sitting in water destroys outer skins and makes it hard to dig up.”
I quote Wikipedia, “When fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, the enzyme alliinase converts alliin into allicin, which is responsible for the aroma of fresh garlic. The allicin generated is unstable and quickly changes into a series of other sulfur-containing compounds, such as diallyl disulfide.”
Mark and I are pretty sick with an upset stomach, and I’m sure it has to do with the amount of garlic we put in our meals. LOL! I make a garlic soup to take to people who are sick to help ward off severe colds and flu. When you feel that scratchy throat feeling, you may want to make this soup. I’m not saying it will cure a cold, but the warm soup may help clean out the gunk in your throat and sinuses. My recipe is at the bottom of this post.
In case you missed this post, Garlic: Everything You Need To Know
How To Plant Garlic
Buying Seed Garlic
My favorite place to order seed garlic is where I buy all of my seeds: SeedsNow Be prepared for sticker shock when you see the prices of seed garlic. Just remember, after the first investment, you can save some of the larger bulbs for seed next year. If you plan correctly, you will always have seeds to plant year after year. Just buy right the first time.
I learned that the “seed” of the garlic bulb is actually the “clove” we all use to flavor our meals. It’s the individual clove you separate from the bulb that is planted as a seed.
Two Categories of Garlic:
This type of garlic will have green shoots with flowers and stalks called “scape” a few weeks before the bulb is ready to harvest. The scape is the bud of the garlic and is edible. You want to remove the flowers/scape to allow the plant to devote its energy to growing a larger bulb. This one is perfect for cold climate areas. You may want to check your Zone for planting, they are good to grow up to about Zone 6. Check Your Zone
You will get two harvests if you plant them at the right time. I like to order the seed garlic online to get the very best ones to plant. If you have a good local nursery they may have the seeds that work for your climate. Hardnecks don’t store as long as soft necks, so go ahead and eat them within 3-6 months. The skins come off easier than the soft neck varieties.
Softneck Variety Garlic
This variety typically is what you find in grocery stores. It usually comes from California and Mexico, or other warm-climate areas. The bulb has a mild flavor. This one braids really easily and makes a great gift for friends and family when braided. While reading this post, Mark asked me what braiding meant and why people would do that.
I told him that if you braid the garlic after it’s harvested it tends to last longer than if you put it in a bag for storage. For those who love to garden, it’s also a way to “dress up” the garden and make it more aesthetically pleasing. If you want to learn more, put braiding garlic in your browser and read all about it. Check Your Zone
When to Plant Garlic
The best time to plant garlic in most areas is in the fall, about 4-6 weeks before your very first frost. Here in Southern Utah, our planting date is the middle of October. I’m in Zone 8A. Please check your Zone for planting times. This is when I really wish I had a Green House. I would love to plant year-round. We usually harvest in June.
Plant garlic cloves in mid-fall in a sunny location in dark loamy soil, and remove any visible rocks. Be sure to pull any weeds so the plants don’t have to fight for survival. After you separate the garlic bulb into cloves, plant one individual clove 4-6 inches apart and about 1-2 inches into the ground with rows about 2 feet apart. Water the soil after planting if the soil is dry to the touch. Plant the pointed end up and the blunt end down. Put down 6 inches of mulch for winter protection.
The plants will go dormant naturally over the winter and the mulch helps keep the soil temperatures alternating from freezing and thawing. Once the ground freezes add another layer of mulch. The goal of planting in the fall is to give the bulbs a head start by sending out roots. Once the soil starts to warm in the spring the plants start growing again. Note that garlic grows best when it can receive six full hours of full sun each day.
You can plant garlic cloves as early in spring as you can once the soil has thawed. Turn the soil using a garden fork, shovel, or another handy garden tool when your soil can be worked effectively. It’s usually about the same time as you plant onion sets. After you separate the garlic bulb into cloves, plant one clove 4-6 inches apart and about 1-2 inches into the ground with rows about 2 feet apart. Water the soil after planting if the soil is dry to the touch. Plant the pointed end up and the blunt end down. Note that garlic grows best when it can receive six full hours of full sun each day.
Depending on your location and when the cool weather tends to warm up, spring planting can mean a later harvest of the garlic, it all depends on temperature, sun exposure, and the quality of the soil.
Where to Plant Garlic
Please choose a spot in your garden or raised garden bed where garlic or onion has not been planted before. Garlic takes up very little space in the garden. Make sure the water will drain from the plants, they don’t like standing water, which may cause disease and rotting to occur. The soil must be fertile, and like I said, well-drained.
Garlic doesn’t do well in hard clay soils. The bulb, which is the root of the plant, needs room to not only get longer in size but also wider. If the soil is too hard the plant’s bulb can’t expand and grow as is needed for a healthy plant and successful harvest. No matter what soil you have, you’ll need to work your compost into the soil and the best fertilizer has a 10-10-10 composition. Yes, nitrogen is important for garlic to grow and mature successfully.
Please don’t let the soil get too much water, they need to be watered, but not too much water. The soil must not be constantly wet or it will affect the outer “skin” of the bulb. Be sure to prepare your soil with some good organic soil. You may want to look at my post on Replenishing Your Soil.
As mentioned above, after you separate the garlic into cloves plant one clove 4-6 inches apart and about 1-2 inches into the ground with rows about 2 feet apart. Water the soil after planting if the soil is dry to the touch. Plant the pointed end up and the blunt end down.
When you plant garlic you can usually harvest your garlic bulbs in 6-9 months, depending on the variety you choose to plant, the weather conditions, and how well the plants are cared for as they grow.
Garlic Harvest and Storage
You will know when the garlic is ready to harvest when most of the leaves have turned brown. You may want to set aside some of the largest bulbs for next year’s planting. Each bulb typically has 5-10 cloves and each individual clove equates to a new plant the following year.
Please remove the dirty soiled skins and cut the tops off at 1-2 inches above the garlic bulbs and store the loose bulbs in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated place in baskets. If you want to braid the stems and hang them on strings, please bend the stem over about 2-inches above the ground to dry the stems before braiding.
Garlic Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 cans of chicken (12.5 ounces each drained or substitute 2 cups of cooked chicken)
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base or substitute equal amounts of water with chicken broth
- 3/4 cup freeze-dried onions or 1 fresh onion chopped into bite-size pieces
- 3/4 cup dry dehydrated carrots or 1-1/2 cups diced fresh carrots
- 3/4 cup dry freeze dried celery or 1-1/2 cups diced fresh celery
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 package Grandma’s frozen egg noodles (11-ounces cooked and separated as directed or boil your pasta of choice)
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup undiluted – optional
- 1 bulb fresh garlic
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours, BUT add the Grandma’s Noodle the last two hours or they will be mushy. Enjoy!
What kinds of pests are harmful to garlic plants?
Although garlic plants are pretty hardy, they can be susceptible to some garden pests. Some common pests that can attack your garlic plants are:
I wasn’t familiar with this insect. It leaves curled white eggs on the underside of the garlic plant leaf. Like house flies, the eggs hatch into maggots, worm-like larvae that like to tunnel into the leaf and chomp on the plant as they move along.
It’s important to keep the area around your garlic plants weeded and well-mulched. All weeds and other debris should be disposed of. If you see the eggs attached to the leaves, pull the leaves off the plant gently so you don’t drop the eggs on other leaves. Be sure to dispose of the affected plant leaves away from your garden.
There are organic spinosad-based insecticides you can buy at your local nursery that can be used to keep them from infesting your whole garden.
Garlic Bloat Nematodes:
Another pest I hadn’t heard of. they are actually roundworms that love to eat the whole garlic plant. The infected plants will show signs of wilting where the leaves turn yellow. The name comes from the shape of the bulb generated by the infected plant since the bulb will swell up and look bloated.
Since nematodes enjoy both living and dead plant matter, be sure to keep your garden free of dead plants, including weeds. The nematodes can attach themselves to your garden tools and even your shoes. Plan on cleaning off the tools often and then treat them with a neem-oil-based insect spray.
These small pests actually attack the garlic bulbs directly. They like living between the cloves. You can tell the plant has been infected by looking for small and twisted leaves, along with raised bumps on the bulbs.
The organic neem-oil spray is also good for treating these pests. You can make your own by adding one teaspoon of neem oil and 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap to each quart of warm water. Make sure they are well mixed before putting the mixture in your spray bottle. Spray each affected plant with this oil until they appear damp.
What is the best month to plant garlic?
Since every location has different frost start dates, different temperatures, and different levels of humidity, you’ll need to determine when best to plant in your specific area. Note in my comments above, that the most common time to plant garlic is in the fall, but many gardeners like doing so in the spring. Remember that garlic likes more dry and warm climates, so if you live in a hot and humid area you may have more difficulty with your plants.
You really can’t say that any time of year would work. You have to give the fall plants time to adjust to the soil, water conditions, and temperatures before they go dormant. Digging in frozen soil and having the compost and mulch work properly during the winter months isn’t going to work. For spring plantings, you need to give the plant enough time to grow, so look for a 6-9 month growing cycle when planting in the spring.
How deep should I plant the garlic cloves?
My research, and from personal experience, tells me that two inches from the soil level to the top of the clove works best. Some people will tell you to space them five inches apart, but others think they need more room, so they suggest 6-8 inches. You for sure want the bulbs to have plenty of room to grow and expand as they mature. If done right, you really shouldn’t have to “thin” them during the growing process.
As a general rule, if you are going to have multiple rows of plants, each row should be 1-2 feet apart, if you have the room.
How often should I water the garlic plants?
All plants need water to grow, but garlic doesn’t do well in very wet conditions. Your soil should provide good drainage, and you’ll want to water sufficiently to keep the soil sparingly moist. As the summer continues, you’ll want to water less and give the bulbs time to grow. You’ll harvest when the full leafy part of the plant has turned yellow.
Are garlic plants annuals or perennials?
As mentioned above, one of the advantages of garlic plants is that you can take the bulbs from one year’s harvest, and use those bulbs the next year. It is suggested that your rotate crops and not plant garlic in the same spot each year. If you have much space at all that rotation sequence shouldn’t be too difficult.
Make sure you save the larger bulbs for the next year’s planting since large bulbs make for large cloves, which in turn make for larger plants.
Annuals, you plant each year. Perennials are those plants that you plant once, clip them back depending on the plant and they just keep producing year after year. Garlic is kind of a combination in my mind, but that’s my opinion. I love garlic, what can I say?
Let me know when you plant garlic in your area, and how you store it. Please tell me the favorite garlic variety you like to plant. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world.