Garlic is a popular and simple crop to grow at home and is a staple ingredient in many recipes. Planting and harvesting your own garlic at home is a fun project that requires relatively little work and keeps your garden active year-round.
So today, the team at Farrell’s Lawn & Garden Center put together this comprehensive guide on how to plant garlic. We will talk about planting and cultivating garlic, as well as tips to maximize your gardening harvest.
It’s always a good idea to learn about the basics of growing plants.
What Variety Of Garlic Should I Plant?
Most types of garlic grow in the fall and mature throughout the winter before harvest time in early summer. Most people grow a variety of garlic plants in their gardens.
Softneck garlic is the most common type and is the kind you would find in a typical supermarket. Softneck varieties produce bulbs with a less intense flavor and do not have a hard, central stem. Generally speaking, softneck varieties are the easiest to plant and maintain.
Hardneck garlic varieties have a rigid central stem and produce bulbs with a more pungent odor and flavor than softneck varieties. The plant’s hardness makes them well-suited for growing in colder regions that see heavy snow. Hardneck bulbs typically have a shorter shelf life than softneck bulbs but also have more flavor variation.
Elephant garlic grows in heads with large bulbs and does not have a long, central stem. Although it has a similar flavor profile, elephant garlic is technically not garlic and is more closely related to onions or leeks.
Planting Garlic: Step-By-Step Guide
Below is a handy step-by-step guide on how to grow garlic at home.
1. Plan For Fall Plantings
The first thing you need to do is choose the right time to plant. Most experts agree that fall plantings are the best—about six to four weeks before the first frost of the winter. Garlic takes about nine months to grow, so you should plan for harvesting around then.
If you live in an area that sees cold, early winters, plan to plant about eight weeks before the ground freezes. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to grow garlic properly.
2. Prepare The Soil
Next, you need to prepare the soil. Loosen the top layer of soil to about eight inches deep and add your chosen brand of fertilizer. Make sure the soil is not too dense, or else your garlic won’t be able to take root effectively. Fertilizers high in nitrogen are the best option for growing healthy garlic stalks.
3. Plant The Bulbs
Now it’s time to plant the bulbs. Break the head of garlic into separate bulbs, taking care to leave the shells covering each bulb intact. Place individual bulbs about three to four inches under the soil and about eight inches apart from one another. Make sure the pointy ends sit face up.
4. Gently Water The Soil Bed
Once you have planted the bulbs, cover the raised bed with about three to four inches of loose straw. The straw keeps the bulbs warm as the temperature drops and helps the plants establish roots. Straw also helps the stalks grow straight and tall.
After placing the straw, gently water the soil bed until the soil settles and is soaked through. If you notice standing water at the base of the plants, you added too much water.
5. Weed And Water Periodically
You won’t have to do anything for your garlic plants during the winter, and they should start sprouting in the early spring. Once you see shoots coming out of the ground, take to watering and weeding your garden regularly. You should water your garlic bulbs at least once per week if there is no rain.
It can be tricky to tell when your garlic is ready to harvest. If you pull it out too soon, the bulbs will be small and brittle. If you wait too long, the bulbs might dry out and become unusable. You can tell it’s time to harvest your plants when the leaves on the stalk start to turn brown and yellow.
Firmly grasp the plants around the stalks and gently pull up, taking care to separate the soil from the roots. Wash the dirt off the plants, cut off the stalks, and voila!—you have your first batch of homegrown garlic.
Garlic Planting FAQ
Below are some of the most common questions we receive about how to plant garlic.
Is Hardneck Or Softneck Garlic Better?
It depends on what you want. Hardneck garlic produces larger bulbs with a more intense flavor, but they have a shorter shelf life and are harder to cook with. Softneck garlic is typically cheaper and has more bulbs per plant but does not grow as well in cold climates.
How Long Does Garlic Take To Grow?
It depends on the specific type, but most garlic takes about eight to nine months to fully mature. Gardeners usually plant garlic in the fall and harvest it during the early summer. You need to harvest garlic as soon as it’s ready, or else it will rot in the ground.
Can I Grow Garlic From Bulbs At The Store?
You can, but we do not recommend it. Garlic from the grocery store is typically dry and might have chemical treatment for pests. Grocery store-bought garlic usually produces small bulbs with weak stalks that are not suitable for replanting.
What Is The Shelf Life Of Garlic?
Most types of garlic have a shelf life of between six and nine months. You need to store garlic in a dry place out of the full sun, or else it will spoil faster. Elephant garlic, in contrast, can often last up to a year before going bad.
Contact Your Trusted Garden Center Today!
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