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Garlic Growing Quick Tips

Garlic Drying On Rack

Sowing/Planting: Garlic is grown from cloves taken from garlic bulbs. The cloves are planted like seeds. Seed clove size is important: larger cloves yield bulbs larges than small cloves. Cloves should be chilled in storage at 41°F (5°C) for several months before planting. Garlic prefers short, cool days at the start of growth and long, warm days to produce bulbs. Plant cloves in early spring up to 6 weeks before the last expected frost for a summer harvest. Plant in autumn about 6 weeks before the soil freezes for a harvest the following mid- to late-summer. Plant cloves 2” (5 cm) deep. Set cloves pointed end up. Grow garlic in compost-rich, well-drained soil in full sun.

Growing: Garlic prefers steady water, but do not saturate the soil. Add compost to the soil in the spring. Spray plants with liquid seaweed extract 2-3 times during the growing season. If seed stalks appear in spring, pick them off promptly. In early summer, when flower stalks appear, pinch them back allowing the plant to devote its energy to bulb development. After flowering when stems yellow, bend the yellowing-green stems but do not break them. .

Harvesting: Harvest garlic in the summer when tops have begun to yellow and are partially dry and when heads are fully formed. About 75 percent of the top growth should be brown at harvest time. Take up bulbs with a spading fork. Remove any clinging soil and allow heads to dry (cure) for 3-4 weeks. Heads can be placed on screens to dry. Outer skins will turn pappery. Curing is complete when the skins are dry and stand the necks are tight. Store cured garlic in a well-ventilated container or nylon net bag in a cool, dry, dark place. Bulbs may start to shrink if stored at temperatures above 77°F (25°C); cloves may sprout if temperatures fall to around 41°F (5°C).

To read detailed garlic growing articles click on Garlic.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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