Garlic Planting

Garlic Planting

What You’ll Need:
Essential Items Desirable Items
Soil Enhancer Bulb Planter
Straw or chopped leaves Save-a-Tree

Planting Time

Early to mid-October is the ideal time to plant garlic. The cloves need to be planted early enough to allow the roots to get some growth before the ground freezes, but late enough to prevent sprouting which will be damaged in the winter cold.

There are four basic requirements for growing great garlic:

  1. Good, rich soil high in organic matter. Loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10” and mix in lots of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. Cloves should be planted 5-6” apart with rows 8” apart.
  2. Healthy garlic bulbs. Gently pull cloves apart from the top of the Be careful to leave the plate at the base of the clove and the skin covering the clove intact. The skin protects the bulb from decay. The root buds, necessary for good root development and a healthy plant, are located at the plate. Don’t separate the cloves more than two days prior to planting. Medium to large cloves from large bulbs are best, but almost any clove will produce in adequate conditions. Plant cloves 2-3” deep with basal plate down.
  3. An organic fertilizer. After planting, water in with Save-A-Tree. This organic fertilizer will provide the clove with all the nutrients it needs and will not leech out of the soil like other fertilizers
  4. Mulch. Cover the bed with a covering of non-bark mulch, such as 6” of clean straw secured against the wind or 3-4” of chopped deciduous leaves. In spring when the tips of the plants begin to show through, gently pull away the mulch to help the soil warm.


If cloves were planted in the fall, your garlic will most likely be ready for harvest mid to late July. The leaves will begin to yellow, a sign that they no longer supply nutrients for the bulbs’ growth. When only 4-5 leaves remain green, it is time to harvest. The remaining leaves will dry into a stronger protective cover than if you were to let them also turn brown. Pull or dig the bulbs, tie them in bundles of about ten, and hang them in a dry area NOT in direct sunlight. The bulbs are very susceptible to sunburn if left in direct sun for any amount of time. Leave the garlic hanging to cure for 4-6 weeks then clip off the tops. Gently rub them clean and store in a hanging mesh bag in a cool, dry location. Depending on the variety, garlic will store for 4-8 months.

*Garlic can be eaten anytime during its growing season, from the green sprouts in spring to the bulbs in fall. However, if you use greens in the spring, your harvested bulb will be significantly smaller.

*If your garlic produces a ‘seed head’ of what appear to be miniature cloves you can save those bulbils to plant in the fall and use their mild leaves in salads and cooking in the spring.

*Freshly harvested garlic is usually milder and juicier than cured garlic.