How to Grow Garlic: Secrets to Planting and Harvesting

How to Grow Garlic, Plant Garlic and Harvest Garlic


How to Grow Garlic, Plant Garlic and Harvest Garlic

Garlic is one of the spices that I really like. It has a rich aroma, is so flavourful and has medicinal properties too! Garlic is also really easy to grow and a great addition to garden. In my little urban garden, I have succeeded in planting garlic and I have used it in cooking too! I am proud to say that the garlic that I have grown is truly organic and grown with tender, loving care. If you want to enjoy the goodness of garlic, here is how to grow garlic, plant garlic and harvest garlic the best way!

How to grow garlic

A member of the Allium family, garlic is a close cousin to the onion, shallot and leek among others. Garlic has a long growing season. Although plant it in spring, most gardeners find the best success when they plant Garlic in autumn, when the temperatures cool significantly. Mid-late October is the sweet-spot for planting. Unlike other things I’m planting in the garden this fall, I won’t harvest the garlic until next July, but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Related: Growing Your Own Food: 25 Amazing Benefits

Types of Garlic

There are many types of garlic, but the two most common categories are:

  • Hardneck
  • Softneck

How to grow garlic


Hardneck garlic has a central hard stalk in the middle of the bulb around which the garlic cloves form in a fairly symmetrical pattern. It adapts very well to colder temperatures, which make it ideal for northern climates. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, however, and last year my area of the northeastern U.S. experienced a very mild winter, so I’m going to try on how to grow garlic,  both hardneck and softneck this year.

Hardnecks tend to have a bolder flavor than softnecks and have an extra culinary bonus as they yield “scapes,” which are curly green stems that grow from the bulb. You can eat the bulb as well. Scapes appear about a month or so before the garlic is ready to be harvested. If you grow hardneck garlic, harvest the scapes when they start to curl by cutting them as far down toward the base without cutting the leaves from the garlic bulb. Even if you don’t plan on eating the scapes, trimming them will allow all the energy to be directed to the main bulb to complete its growth.

How to grow garlic


Softneck garlic is typically the kind of garlic you’ll find in the grocery store (it has a longer shelf life). It can have anywhere from about 12-20 cloves of varying size, often overlapping. The papery layers tend to form upwards into the soft neck. Its flavor tends to be slightly milder than its hardneck cousin.

RELATED: How to grow carrots in containers during winter!

How to Grow Garlic

I’ve always experimented on many ways on how to grow garlic.

Plant garlic from the cloves of the bulb. If you’re purchasing a bulb to plant, do not get it from a grocery store as it’s likely been treated to keep longer on the shelf. Get the bulbs from a reputable grower, nursery or seed catalog.  Garlic should be planted when soil and air temperatures are cooler. Although some gardeners plant in spring, in most northern climates, the ideal time to plant is in autumn. Typically plant your garlic late September to late October. If you’re in a warmer climate and want to grow garlic, wait until your nights start getting consistently cooler, and try storing your garlic in a cool spot a few weeks ahead of planting to cause sprouting to begin.


Plant garlic

Within 24 – 48 hours before planting, separate the cloves from the bulb carefully so you don’t damage them (do not peel the husk). If you separate them too far in advance, they may dry out. Pick the largest, best-looking cloves for planting. Plant cloves in well-drained soil about 2 inches (5 cm) deep, 4 inches (10 cm) apart in rows 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Aim for a soil pH between 6.0-7.0. Place the cloves with the basal plate down into the soil (narrow tip pointing up) and cover with soil and compost.


Layer the soil in autumn with straw mulch, shredded leaves or other organic clean cover for overwintering. This will help prevent too many weeds from forming and helps the soil retain moisture. Remove the cover in spring well after the threat of frost has passed and pull any weeds that may have formed. In spring, garlic shoots will begin to emerge. In spring, you may want to add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and start watering more often.

Related: How to grow parsnips?

How to Harvest Garlic

For fall planting, garlic should be ready to harvest the following July or August. When the lower leaves start to brown and wilt, but you’ve still got 5-6 green leaves, it’s likely time to pull the garlic. (Those leaves each represent a layer of the husk around the bulb.) Loosen the soil and gently remove the bulbs. Remove large clumps of dirt from the bulb, but there’s no need to heavily “clean” them and do not remove the papery husk. The husk will help slow the process of sprouting and will help them keep longer in storage. Bulbs should be hung from the stems and dried for 4-6 weeks in cool dry location.

Harvest garlic

When ready to store, trim the stems about 1 1/2- 2″ from the bulb. Store garlic in a dry (low humidity) location that maintains a temperature around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (10 – 15 degrees Celsius). Hardneck varieties should keep for about 5-6 months; Store softnecks up to about 8 months.

Here is how to grow garlic, plant garlic and harvest it the best way! Good luck with your production!

About the Author


I'm Catherine, The Wine Box Gardener. I'm all about growing LOTS of organic vegetables and herb in the smallest of spaces -- and do most of it by recycling wooden wine boxes as planters. Come see what's growing in my urban garden, and get tips and recipes on my website @wineboxgardener on social to keep up with all the latest using the links above or: Instagram Facebook Twitter