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Garlic! How do I grow it? — The Grow Network Community
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Garlic! How do I grow it?

Nancy CarterNancy Carter Posts: 196 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Growing Medicinals

What and where is the best way to grow garlic? Does garlic grow best near certain plants or foods? How long is the growing process? Do I need to protect it from certain critters? Are there different types of garlic?



  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 373 ✭✭✭

    "What and where is the best way to grow garlic?"

    In cool/cold climates, plant it in the fall, ideally a few weeks before frost. Put mulch (e.g., leaves, wood chips) on the soil surface to protect it from the cold. Garlic, like onions, will not form deep roots, so it does best in very fertile, very loose soil. It will not like hard clay.

    "How long is the growing process?"

    Plant in fall a few weeks before frost. Harvest in mid-summer the following year. I planted mine around September 11 this year, and my first frost averages about September 23.

    "Do I need to protect it from certain critters?"

    I haven't had much issue with critters. There are some insects in some regions of North America that will feed on garlic. The solution for those is to keep row covers over the garlic in the spring when it pokes out of the ground. In late spring/early summer, after the insects have passed through that part of their life cycle, the cover can be removed.

    "Are there different types of garlic?"

    There are many varieties, but they fall in two broad categories. Hardneck garlic has a hard central stalk that produces a "scape" that tries to form seeds. The cloves form in a circle around the stalk. (It is recommended that you cut off the scape once it starts to form a loop, otherwise it will take energy from the plant that could have gone to forming larger cloves.) I grow Music, a popular hardneck.

    Softneck garlic has no central stalk, and the cloves form in a round bunch with more cloves in the middle. Some softnecks prefer warmer climates, but I had no trouble growing huge bulbs of Red Inchelium softneck last year here in zone 4b.

    The garlic you see in the grocery store is usually softneck.

  • MaryRoweMaryRowe Posts: 254 ✭✭✭

    Adding a tidbit to the good advice above: a few years back a friend gave me some of those cloth grow bags she didn't want anymore. They are 3 to 4 feet across and about 10" deep. I've been growing my garlic in those with my home-made potting soil since. The garlic grows well and it's easy to harvest. Winter temps get down to minus-10 here, and in bad winters lower than that, but with a good covering of straw on and between the grow beds I've never had a problem with the cold.

  • Jack_Went_SplatJack_Went_Splat Posts: 59 ✭✭✭

    What great information! Now I understand where I went wrong in the past. Now to figure out where to plant in our new abode.

  • Nancy CarterNancy Carter Posts: 196 ✭✭✭

    I believe I read in my How to grow more vegetables book, that it is suggested to plant garlic with roses! Did I read that right? What are the benefits of this method of companion planting?

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    Great information. I had hoped to start garlic this year but was unable to get it until it was too late for our area. Will have to try again next year. This information will help me to be successful.

  • Melissa BurfordMelissa Burford Posts: 64 ✭✭✭

    @Nancy Carter As to your question of companion planting - garlic tends to ward off pests when planted with certain flowers or other edibles.

  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 691 ✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym It may be "too late" for planting garlic for an ideal harvest, but it may not be too late to plant it. Has your ground frozen? I have planted garlic in December in Denver Metro area on Christmas day. I am often "late" in planting garlic, but it doesn't seem to mind too much. If your ground hasn't frozen, my advice is go ahead and plant it and mulch it to keep the ground from freezing for a little longer

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @tomandcara Good to know, I was not able to order the garlic I wanted this year. I need hardneck for my area and every variety I tried to order was out of stock before I ordered. Will keep this in mind for next year. Might try a little soft neck from the grocery just for the heck of it this year.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 373 ✭✭✭

    Once you get a garlic that does well in your area, save some of the largest cloves from this year's crop and plant them for the following year.

    Garlic is quite possibly the easiest plant for home gardeners to propagate without needing to buy more "seed" each year.

  • solarnoon.aspensolarnoon.aspen Posts: 206 ✭✭✭

    I haven't yet put up perimeter fencing around our property, so with every type of plant I put in, I need a game plan for how to protect it from wildlife. It is incredible, with all the other neat things for them to eat around us, they just love to tromp on my gardens and pull out just about everything - except for aliums. Garlic is a safe one. WIld criters just don't like it. So, it's nice to put it in the most exposed - to animals - garden plots.

    That said, every year we grow it in a different bed because it is easy for it to get a moldy fungus that destroys the bulbs. Once it gets hold in the garden, they say you can't grow garlic there for 7 years. We had it happen in the first place where we grew it for three years as we didn't know about it. So, now, every year a new place. It's working and we're getting 400+ beautiful bulbs in August. We eat just about every one of them.

  • jodienancarrowjodienancarrow Mid North Coast AustraliaPosts: 702 admin

    I planted hard necked garlic this year. Sown in mid March (beginning of autumn ) and will harvest beginning of Nov (last month of spring) This is in the southern hemisphere. The scapes (flower heads) appeared last week, general rule is snap them off and harvest in 3 weeks time. You can use the scapes in cooking, just like you would garlic or onions. The reason you get rid of the scapes is so you end up with larger garĺic cloves, puts more energy into the bulb, instead of the flower. Garlic likes to be mulched and doesn't like competition. Also needs to be watered. Mine is growing wonderfully well next to rosemary but that was coincidental. No pests to speak of.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 373 ✭✭✭

    Notice the difference between Jodie's garlic schedule and mine. She is in a warmer sub-tropical/tropical zone, so she is able to harvest the last month of spring. I am in the much colder zone 4b of northern New England, so my harvest happens mid-summer.

    Both of these schedules make sense for our respective climates. And you can see that garlic can be grown just about anywhere!

  • Nancy CarterNancy Carter Posts: 196 ✭✭✭

    Could I use pine needles as a mulch?

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 373 ✭✭✭

    @Nancy Carter I wouldn't recommend it. Pine needles will make the soil very acid, and garlic doesn't like acid soil.

  • Nancy CarterNancy Carter Posts: 196 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy thank you for that info, I had no idea! Are there certain flowers that like acidic soil?

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 373 ✭✭✭

    There are many plants that like acid soil, including some fruits and vegetables. Blueberries will not grow properly unless the soil is quite acid, so I mulch them with pine needles to keep the pH down. Potatoes like acid soil and can get scab if they are grown in soil that's too alkaline.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @jodienancarrow I have had the garlic scapes before. Made a wonderful pesto with some of them. A friend introduced me to a basil and nasturtium leaf pesto this summer. It was fantastic. Enough so that I have already purchased nasturtium seed to plant in spring. lol

    @solarnoon.aspen Thank you for the information. I did not know they needed to be rotated to keep down the chance of disease.

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 437 ✭✭✭✭

    @Nancy Carter just another note about “roses love garlic”. My roses DO love garlic and I never get aphids when the garlic is actively growing among them. HOWEVER my garlic does NOT love roses. Every variety I tried did poorly and did not produce good bulbs. So now I just plant a handful in the rose garden and plant the garlic I want to harvest for use in other areas.

  • MissPatriciaMissPatricia Posts: 108 ✭✭✭

    I am about to plant my garlic here in north Alabama and hope that they grow bigger than they did last year; I think I planted them even later last year. They really are an easy crop to grow. I hope to plant at least 4 dozen.

  • jodienancarrowjodienancarrow Mid North Coast AustraliaPosts: 702 admin

    @vickeym isn't it amazing what you can make pesto out of. In May this year, I made a big pile of pesto from basil, parsley and nasturtium. Put it in ziplock bags and froze. Now when I'm not organised for dinner, like 2 nights ago, I just pulled one out, let it defrost a little, boiled the pasta, added the cheese and viola' a tasty no fuss meal. The other thing I do is make a cold pesto pasta salad and toss fresh tomatoes and red onion through, no cheese though.

  • norabelehcimnorabelehcim Posts: 50 ✭✭✭

    Growing garlic in balcony containers, scattered among other plants (marigolds to deter pests and attract bees, assorted cherry tomato, sweet potato and nasturtium vines, chili peppers, etc, in "crazy" pots which seem quite happy to share limited space).

    I will also grow some indoors for greens over winter as well.

  • marjstrattonmarjstratton Posts: 168 ✭✭✭

    Wow! Excellent information. I'm just about to plant my garlic here in northwestern Washington. I grew garlic successfully for the first time last year. I grew it in a half barrel. So I was thinking of planting it there again, but through the year, I have been reading about crop rotation and have read that one needs to rotate Alliums annually. I was wonder if it was just that they were heavy feeders and maybe just putting a lot of compost into the barrel would do the trick. Now, knowing that it is a fungal issue, I will plant elsewhere, and put radishes or something else in the barrel. Thank you all for the great information.

  • AcequiamadreAcequiamadre Posts: 234 ✭✭✭

    I planted mine today--my first time growing garlic. I now know to rotate it every season and avoid fungus!

  • dmthennessydmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    @vickeym Would you be willing to share your pesto recipe with nasturtiums? I grow them every year, but have never made pesto from them.

  • dmthennessydmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the insight into growing garlic. This is my first time growing it. Organic garlic is scarce here in my part of CT.

    I did read that garlic is a heavy feeder, so I bought alfalfa meal as a soil supplement.

  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭

    I have a huge bin I purchased from Big Lots, drilled holes in the sides for drainage, and put in the sun, filled with soil, compost, peat. I just stick my sprouting garlic into the soil around oct-nov and ignore it until the spring.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @dmthennessy My friend made it, She is going to share her recipe with me. I will ask for permission to share it, though I am sure she would not mind.

  • MelissaLynneMelissaLynne NE Washington🌲 Zone 5aPosts: 200 ✭✭✭

    The weather is cold and sunny today and I am taking the kids out to get our garlic planted. :)

  • dmthennessydmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    @vickeym, thanks for considering this. I love that people can experiment with food and recipes, since I don't have that talent.

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