How to Grow Garlic

It’s late October in central Ohio. I bet you’re thinking the planting season is over? Think again! Now is the perfect time to plant garlic in the garden.

Garlic is so easy to grow, it barely needs any attention at all and it’s one of the only edibles that can be planted in the fall with little to no protection needed from hard freezes.

Sound good to you? Good, let’s get started. Here’s how to grow garlic.

Choose your variety

Hardneck garlic: has a sharper flavor and produces garlic scapes, which can be clipped and eaten before the bulbs are ready to harvest. It’s also hardier making it a better choice for areas with cold winters

Softneck garlic: has a more mild flavor, does not produce garlic scapes, and is better suited to areas with more mild winters. 

Note: it’s best not to plant garlic cloves from the grocery store. They are treated in order to extend their shelf life and may not be suitable to your growing climate. Because of this they are more difficult to grow.

Buy your seed garlic from a local nursery.

Seed Garlic


Gather your supplies

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Cultivator or garden fork
  2. Garden trowel
  3. Seed garlic

Plant

You should plant garlic about two weeks after your first frost date (end of October for central Ohio).

  1. Loosen the soil with your cultivator or garden fork.
  2. Dig a trench or individual holes three to four inches deep with your trowel. 
  3. Place the cloves pointy side up, four inches apart. Space rows ten inches apart.
  4. Cover with soil and water the area.
  5. Cover with mulch (straw is great to use here) to protect sprouts from temps below 20F.

Make a note of where you planted the garlic so you can add it to your garden plan for Spring. 

Harvest

Garlic bulbs will be ready to harvest the following summer, usually between June and August. Once the foliage begins to yellow, but before it completely dries out, its time to harvest.

Dig up the bulbs using a spade or garden fork. Let the bulbs cure for two weeks in a dry, shaded spot, with good air circulation. This allows the garlic to dry out for long term storage. Store cured garlic in a cool, dry, dark place for several months. 

Harvested Garlic Bulbs

If you plant a hardneck variety of garlic you can and should also harvest garlic scapes earlier in the season. Garlic scapes are the flower stems that grow out of the center of the garlic stalks and form a spiral. Once they have formed you can snap or clip them off at their base. Garlic scapes have a fresh, mild garlic flavor. Use them like you would green onions. 

Questions? Leave them below. 

Happy growing! 

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