Growing Garlic – Part 1

Garlic is so very healthy for us to eat. It doesn’t hurt that it is one of the easiest things to grow. Garlic takes up such a small space that you can either plant a big bed of it in a corner of your garden or tuck a dozen plants into a pot and keep it on your deck.
In our climate (cold winters) we plant our Garlic in the very early Fall around mid-September.  If you live in the South you plant in the Spring. Follow along to see just how easy Garlic is to grow and then make sure you plant a few cloves!
Here’s our Garlic Bed, ready for planting. I plant Garlic close together – you can see I have 4 beds separated by narrow walkways.

I took my box of keepers (How we decide which cloves to eat and which to save for planting will be in the following posts) down to the garden.

I plant the cloves about 6 inches apart, with 8 inches between the rows.  I pushed each of the cloves a couple of inches below the soil surface.

 You can see the individual cloves in the picture above because I like to try and get the rows nice and straight, so I don’t put the soil on top of them until I am finished planting them all. I use the planted ones as markers.




Here’s the bed after planting all the cloves. We have 288 cloves in there! That’s a LOT of garlic, but we love it  roasted  and we often have 2 whole heads of garlic between us at dinner time.

If you cook the garlic, it is a lot milder than if you eat it raw and it’s so healthy for you!







Mulch the whole bed with straw once the temperatures get down around freezing. Our temperatures are cold on Fall mornings and maybe close to freezing overnite.

Once planted, all you have to do is weed it regularly during the growing season. One of the reasons I plant my Garlic tightly is that it reduces the weeds that come up.

So to get the Garlic in the ground and ready for Winter, it is just a matter of planting the cloves, covering them with soil, then covering them with a good layer of mulch. You could use straw, grass clippings or leaves.

During the Fall, your Garlic will start to grow and may have a few inches of green leaf on them before Winter sets in. You don’t need to do anything to them – just wait for them to appear in Spring.

In the Spring the Garlic bulbs will continue to grow. While the green leaves are growing above the soil, the Garlic bulb is growing below the soil. Water it every few days and keep any weeds out.




Garlic scapes, growing garlic



In early summer, you will see the Garlic Scapesforming and coming out from the center of the growing stalk. Every Garlic plant will send out one Scape.  As they grow, they start to curl and they look great on the dinner plate cooked whole. Can you see the Scapes above?



garlic, garlic scapes, growing garlic



Before you know it, you’ll have lots of Scapes to harvest – just cut them off at the base of the Scape using a knife.

If you want nice big garlic heads, you MUST cut the scapes off. This directs the energy into the bulb below ground, and it will then grow bigger.

Don’t just toss those Scapes onto your compost pile. They taste great – I’ll get a post up about making Pickled Garlic Scapes and other ways to eat them.

Garlic is very easy to grow and hardly takes any room at all. Every garden should have some garlic growing in it! Freshly dug Garlic tastes nothing like the store bought Garlic you see in the produce section.

You can find good healthy Garlic by buying some at your local Farmer’s Market – ask if it was grown locally. Just remember you need 1 clove per plant, so buy accordingly. There are roughly 6 – 8 cloves on one head of garlic.

I will be harvesting our Garlic in about 3 or 4 weeks. I’m already thinking of how to expand this bed for next years harvest!



Part 2 of the Garlic series is called “How to Make Pickled Garlic Scapes” and can be found here.


Update: For 2014, we are beginning to sell some of our garlic. If you are looking for Russian Red, Yugoslavian Porcelain or Music, please click on the link for more information.



  1. avatar Kari says:

    Annie you do such a great job of teaching and describing how to garden. I will plant a bed of garlic this fall too.