Garlic is an essential ingredient in many dinners here at The Kitchen Garten, and learning how to plant garlic for a successful harvest is incredibly easy. Planting garlic takes less than half an hour (if you’re not planting a field’s worth), and is one of the lowest maintenance crops any gardener can grow.
Growing garlic in fall or spring
I always think of garlic as a fall planted crop. But that’s doesn’t necessarily have to be the way it’s always done. Fall planting works best for most growing regions especially those with cold winters.
However, spring planting can be done in places with milder temperatures and may be preferred for those who want to grow green garlic or garlic that is grown mainly for the green son top. (See this post from Savvy Gardening if you’re interested in spring planting.)
For large, full bulbs of garlic, plant in the fall and plan to harvest and enjoy the following summer.
Hardneck or Softneck Garlic
If you’ve looked for seed garlic so far, then you’ve probably noticed there are several types to choose from and most will fall into either the softneck or hardneck variety. So, what is the difference between hardneck and softneck garlic?
Both can be delicious and both have their own set of pros and cons.
Hardneck garlic tends to be easier to grow but doesn’t store as well as softneck garlic. The cloves are also larger and easier to peel which is a definite bonus in my book. On the downside, hardneck garlic doesn’t usually form as large of a bulb as softneck garlic.
Prepare soil for planting garlic
The great thing about planting garlic is that you don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of seedlings like you do for tomatoes or peppers. You simply need to order seed garlic from a reputable seed company.
I like to order my seed garlic from Southern Exposure Seed, but I’ve also ordered from Territorial Seed Company and been very pleased with the quality.
As with most anything you’ll grow in the garden, soil quality is important. Be sure to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches and mix in some organic matter. I like to add compost or well-rotted manure. This is especially important if you have heavy clay soils.
A planting bed that has been amended with organic matter will help improve drainage and increase aeration, both of which are important for garlic.
Planting Garlic Cloves
Once you’re ready to plant, break apart the seed garlic into individual cloves, taking care not to damage the skin of the clove. Some suggest only planting the largest cloves, but I go ahead and plant them all, just in case.
Lay out each clove 8 inches apart on top of the soil. I like to do this so I can see all of the garlic laid out before I begin planting them.
Plant each clove pointy side up, about 2 inches deep. Water the newly planted garlic well and keep the soil moist, but not wet for the next few weeks.
Once the green tops begin to break through the soil, mulch the garlic with pine straw, good quality wood mulch, or hay. Be sure to leave the garlic plants poking up through the mulch.
And that’s it! You’ve now planted your garlic for a summer harvest next year. All that’s left to do is sit back and wait patiently for those beautiful bulbs of garlic to grow.
For my full guide on growing garlic, including harvesting, click this link.