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How to Grow Garlic | Home Growing Guide

How to grow garlic at home? Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. Even though it takes a little preparation, this ancient bulbous vegetable is an ideal addition to add to your vegetable garden.

This must-have kitchen ingredient doesn’t take much to get going and will be a nice and natural way to repel insects away from your lovingly tended vegetables. 

How to Grow Garlic Home Growing Guide

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The most important thing with garlic is that you can’t just take any garlic off the shelves at your local grocery store. The ones from your grocery store are often treated with chemicals that will inhibit their natural growth in the ground.

How to Grow Garlic at Home

Ideally, you will need to find garlic heads that are specifically sold for the purpose of planting. Then, planting and growing will be no problem at all. 

Here is everything you need to know:

How to Grow Garlic at Home? 

When it comes to growing garlic at home, the process is very important and shouldn’t be rushed. Before you can even consider planting your garlic into the soil, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right spot with the right conditions. 

Choosing a Spot

Firstly, you will need to pick a spot in your garden that hasn’t been used to grow garlic in the last year or any vegetable in the onion family. Then, you’ll want to choose somewhere with dry, loamy soil. 

Garlic needs quite a bit of sun to produce a proper head, so pick a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Before planting, you will need to prepare the soil by loosening it as much as 8-inches deep and removing any weeds or stones. 

It is recommended to treat the soil with a slow-release, 10-10-10 fertilizer two days prior to planting. A slightly acidic PH level is also recommended. 

Garlic can also be grown easily in pots. You will need to ensure a fresh growing medium and a sunny spot, either outside or on a window ledge. 

how to plant garlic in pots

How to Plant Garlic

Planting should be one during Autumn; around mid-October is ideal. Break your garlic head into individual bulbs. Each bulb will root and produce a new head of garlic. 

Plant each clove 1-2 inches deep, at least 4-6 inches apart. Backfill with soil, and then add a layer of straw or mulch on top to keep your little plants warm during the winter. 

What Kind of Garlic Can You Grow At Home? 

Now that you know how to plant garlic at home, let us figure out what kind you'd want to grow. Surprisingly to many, there are actually quite a few varieties of garlic to choose from, and not all varieties will grow in certain climates. 

Wild garlic is always a good option, precisely because it is adapted to grow in the ‘wild’. However, for home-growing, we would recommend: 

growing garlic at home

Hardneck Garlic 

This is the most common choice in America. It has a beautifully sharp flavour and can tolerate colder, frosty conditions. This variety is best recognized for its long stiff neck. 

Softneck Garlic 

Softneck garlic doesn’t produce a central stem and offers a far more mild flavor. However, this variety needs slightly warmer temperatures to grow. 

Rocamboles 

This is another variety of hardneck garlic, which produces long, beautiful flower spikes. 

Elephant Garlic 

Now, this is, in fact, not a true garlic. Elephant garlic produces a giant-sized head but is actually part of the leek family.

How to Care for Garlic

caring for garlic

It’s important to keep your garlic well-watered during the growing cycle. When caring for garlic, you can water as often as every 3 to 5 days for the first few months then stop watering completely in the last two weeks before harvest. 

Keep the area around your garlic well weeded, as this will inhibit head growth. In the spring, remove the mulch or straw from on top of your plant to allow shoots more space to grow.

You can also supplement with some additional fertilizer in early spring. Garlic needs lots of nitrogen to grow, so should you notice a yellowing of leaves, be sure to use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. 

Harvesting & Storing Garlic

Harvesting & Storing Garlic

It’s important to wait until the exact right moment before harvesting. If you harvest too soon, you’ll miss out on the final growth spurt. When most of the leaves have begun to brown, your garlic should be ready to harvest. This is often in late July or early August. 

When harvesting, take care not to bruise your garlic, as this can lead to rot in the curing phase. Curing the garlic heads is an essential step. This will help to establish that sought after garlic flavor.

They will need about 2 to 3 weeks in a dry, shady area with decent air circulation.  An ambient temperature around 40°F is ideal. You can either cut the stems, braid them, or use them to tie your garlic into bunches.

Pests & Diseases to Look Out For

Although garlic is actually an insect repellent, they sometimes have an issue or two. However, if your soil is properly tended to, the likelihood is not very high. 

Common issues with garlic include: 

Rust 

Also known as Puccinia porri, rust appears as small orange blisters all along with the leaves of your garlic plant. To prevent rust and for a greater yield, consider spraying your soil regularly with Sulphur compounds. 

Onion Flies 

Onion flies will lay eggs on your plant, where the larvae will then bore into the bulb, consume it, causing it to collapse. However, it’s not always easy to tell when you have an infestation. It is recommended to keep your soil well cultivated to prevent onion flies. 

White Rot 

This is a cottony fungal growth with little black spots and is deadly for your garlic plants. Should you notice white rot, you will need to destroy your garlic plants immediately and avoid growing garlic in that soil again for over 15 years. 

Eelworm 

This soil-borne nematode is also a death sentence for garlic plants. Should you notice these worms on your crop, remove and destroy your plants immediately.

Cooking Tips for Garlic

Cooking Tips for Garlic

So many dishes are complimented by that little addition of garlic. Whether it’s just a classic garlic bread, tomato-based dish, chicken, beef, seafood or stews, a touch of garlic goes a long way when it comes to flavor.

Many experts recommend only using fresh garlic, as the pre-minced garlic available in stores just lacks in flavor. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of fresh garlic growing soon enough. 

You can roast garlic, use it fresh or even burn for a nice smokey flavor. Check out these garlic recipes you can try today. 

Now You Know How to Grow Garlic at Home

There really is so much you can do with garlic. When growing it at home, just be sure to follow the preparation instructions carefully to guarantee a good yield. Here are some other amazing vegetables to add to your garden.

Be sure you mulch your plants during the winter to keep the roots warm and remove them in the spring, so you have nothing inhibiting growth. There you have it, everything you need to know on how to grow garlic at home. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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