Growing Garlic

by National Gardening Association Editors

You can buy garlic bulbs or sets from garden stores or the local grocer. 'Elephant' garlic is a good variety to look for if you want large, mild-flavored clusters. This type of garlic peels easily, too. In general, buy garlic varieties adapted to your area. If you're in the West, try 'Silverskin'; in the East, try 'New York White'.

Planting Garlic

Plant the small, individual cloves that break off from the bulb. The outer cloves of each garlic will produce the largest bulbs. Don't break them up until you plant them, though.

Like onions, garlic is great for wide-row growing. Plant the cloves the full depth of the bulb -- three or four inches apart, and firm the soil. Try a row 10 to 12 inches wide. To grow big garlic bulbs, plant the cloves in late fall. They'll mature the following summer. If you live in the North you can mulch garlic over the winter, but next season you'll have to watch out for seed stalks and pick them off right away. If you have a long growing season, you can also plant the cloves in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. However, the resulting heads will be smaller than fall-planted garlic.

If you live in the South or Southwest, plant the cloves anytime from the fall through early spring. Plant early because garlic isn't fond of hot weather. It doesn't like competition from weeds, either.

Harvesting Garlic

Harvest garlic when the tops have only six to eight green leaves left. It should take at least 100 days for spring-planted garlic. Pull the heads up and let them dry for a few days, and then cure them in an airy place, like onions. They'll keep for quite a while at 40&deg F to 60&deg F. Braiding is an excellent way to cure and store them.

If you leave garlic bulbs in the ground over the winter, let them go to seed the following season. At the top of the seed stalk the bulbs will produce 10 to 15 tiny bulbs that you can plant -- it's fun.

Harvesting Garlic

Harvest garlic when the tops have only six to eight green leaves left. It should take at least 100 days for spring-planted garlic. Pull the heads up and let them dry for a few days, and then cure them in an airy place, like onions. They'll keep for quite a while at 40&deg F to 60&deg F. Braiding is an excellent way to cure and store them.

If you leave garlic bulbs in the ground over the winter, let them go to seed the following season. At the top of the seed stalk the bulbs will produce 10 to 15 tiny bulbs that you can plant -- it's fun.



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