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How to Grow your Own Garlic (it's easy!)


I had been wanting to try growing my own garlic for some time. Not only do I cook regularly with fresh garlic and we eat a lot of it ourselves, I also supplement our chickens' diet with fresh minced garlic as well as add whole cloves to their water.  So we go through quite a bit of garlic.


Several years ago, I finally gave it a try - and I'm hooked! It turns out garlic is pretty easy to grow. You just basically stick a clove in the ground in the fall (5-6 weeks before the first expected frost in your area) and in the spring you'll have grown an entire bulb. Okay, it's not quite that easy, but almost! And the best part is that, for the most part, insects leave it alone as do deer, rabbits and moles.


Fall planting with an early summer harvest is recommended for the largest, tastiest bulbs, but in the South you can plant in February/March as well and harvest in the late fall. (Planting should be done early enough in the fall to give the cloves time to sprout some roots before winter sets in.) 

Although you can plant store-bought garlic cloves, it is preferable to find an organic bulb or local garlic at a farmer's market, so you know it hasn't been treated with any pesticides or chemicals. Break the bulb into cloves and choose the largest cloves to plant.  Be sure to leave the papery covering on them. Garlic prefers full sun and well-drained soil so plan your planting spot accordingly.



Plant the cloves tip side up about 4-6 inches apart and with the tip about 2 inches below the surface.  Garlic is a natural fungicide and pesticide, so it will help reduce aphids on your tomatoes or roses.  It also is a good companion plant for fruit trees, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.  Due to its pungent nature, moles, rabbits and deer tend not to bother with it.

You can mulch the cloves you just planted with about 4 inches of chopped straw, dried leaves or hay. The mulch will keep the soil a more even temperature through the winter which helps the roots remain in place and also helps to retain moisture and keep weeds down.


In the spring, when the green shoots start to poke through the ground, you can remove any remaining mulch.  In late spring, start to snap off any 'scapes' that appear. They are the thin curly stems that grow up from the center of the clove and drain energy needed to grow the new bulb. Don't toss them! They're delicious cut into short lengths and tossed into a searing hot cast iron skillet with some olive oil, salt and pepper.





Harvesting:
The garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellowish-brown and are starting to fall over. Using your fingers or a small rake or trowel, carefully dig up the bulbs.

Gently wipe off any dirt from the bulbs and then leave them to dry in an airy, shady spot for two weeks. You can braid them or tie them into bunches to dry.  Or you can just trim off the roots and most of the stalks and lay them on a clothes drying rack or an oven rack.





After a few weeks, once the wrappers are dry and papery, you can then cut the tops completely off and store the garlic bulbs in a pantry, or just leave the bulbs braided hanging in a cupboard or pantry and cut them off one by one as you need to use them. 

Be sure to save some of the largest cloves. In the fall, replant them for the following spring's harvest.






6/11/2013 Update: I just harvested my first garlic bulb! Mid-June, maybe a bit early because it's kind of small, but still, I'm impressed! I grew a whole bulb from just one clove!  And it was super easy! It smells SO good! So much more pungent and fresher than store bought. I'll leave the others for a few more weeks before I harvest them, but we'll enjoy this bulb now!



Garlic is a wonderful addition to your chicken's diet and has natural worming properties as well as benefits their immune system. Read HERE how to use garlic as a natural wormer paired with pumpkin seeds and nasturtium.



Have to ever planted garlic?  If not, did this article give you the confidence to try? I would love to hear your experiences growing garlic....
The Complete Book of Garlic

37 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to plant garlic! We use it almost everyday!! Thanks for showing how easy it can be!

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  2. Hey.....! I am going to try this...I have never grown garlic....! Thanks for the info!!!

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  3. Hi, I entered the sign contest! I tried garlic a couple years ago. The leaves grew but no garlic bulbs. I am wondering if the soil was too compact.

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  4. I also entered the sign contest but couldn't see where to post about the sign I like...It's the blackberry sign, btw. In Oregon they grow like crazy & the redeeming value is the amazing fruit.

    Garlic is a good grower here too. :)
    -Julia

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    1. Hi. On the entry form there should have been a place to leave your comment, but no worries! I love the blackberry one too ;0)

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  5. I have grown garlic for 2-3 years. This past year my garlic did great. Nice large cloves, that I will be able to plant this fall rather than purchasing garlic else where. I add a little bonemeal to the planting hole and cover the bed with straw for winter protection. I will definitely read your posts about using garlic for your girls. We just got 4 girls this past Spring and they have been so much fun!

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  6. Hi, I couldn't see a place to comment, either. But I love the Les Poules one. And I grow my own garlic. Delicious!

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  7. I planted garlic for the first time last year and I was surprised at how easy it was. This reminds me I need to go out and plant it this year too!

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  8. I love to grow garlic. I don't always get large heads but it is wonderful to have in the garden. Save those scapes though! If you cut them off early enough you can chop them up and use as you would scallions.

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    1. I have grown my own for years from supermarket garlic. The secret to larger heads is to plant ONLY the very largest cloves from the garlic you buy (keep the smaller ones for the kitchen). The larger cloves provide the growing plant with more energy to get started, as that clove gets consumed in the process of growing the new garlic head. Also prepare the bed with loads of compost in the fall. In the spring be sure to fertilize the garlic a couple of times before harvesting. Good luck!

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  9. Garlic is definately on our list for planting this fall. We love it! Thanks for the good information about planting it.

    Sonja Twombly http://lallybrochfarms.blogspot.com/

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  10. I need to find something besides store bought garlic to plant. ;o)
    Have a wonderful evening!

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  11. Thanks! We are planting garlic for the first time this year and I had just been looking up the how-tos for it. Found you on Frugally Sustainable. Great timing!

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  12. I just read the same Urban Farm magazine. I was thinking of doing garlic over the winter, but may plan it for next year. Thanks for these good tips and for sharing over on Tuesday Greens!

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  13. You actually gave me hope that I could do this! I might give it a try...we go through a lot of garlic in my household! Thanks for the post! Found you on the blog hop!

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  14. I always grow garlic love it and love the sign

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  15. Thanks for the inspiration. I haven't planted garlic in a few years, but just might get back to it this fall! Thanks for sharing at Repurposed Ideas Weekly.

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  16. Coming over from Katherine's Corner and want to invite you over to link up with Fishtail Cottage's garden party???? Would love to see you come on over! xoox, tracie

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    1. Hi there ! I love your facebook page...heading over now to your party. Lisa

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  17. I tried this year but with the drought, it just didn't happen, neither did the onions. Next year I hope is better. I did like your post- I need to remember to mix them into my tomatoes.

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  18. Garlic is so easy to grow and nothing beats the taste of freshly pulled garlic. I have a garlic giveaway on my blog right now--giving away 3 different organically grown varieties of garlic...you might want to come over and check it out. :)

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  19. Garlic really is easy to grow and stores so well. Thanks for all of the great information, Lisa. :)

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  20. We love garlic. We grew Va dahlia onions for the first time this year and they were delish. We were thinking about growing garlic next year. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Your participation helps make it a success.I'm sorry I am slow to visit this week as I am fighting a nasty head cold and my time on the computer has been limited.Wishing you a beautiful day .

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  21. I love growing my own garlic. I really need to get more organized and plant some this fall.

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing this! I had no idea it was that easy to grow your own garlic. I think I'm going to have to give it a try . . . Thanks for linking up with NOBH! Smiles -

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  23. I have been wanting to do this for years but have a lot of trouble finding starters in Germany. Perhaps now that we're living in the city, I'll get a hold of some and just do it on the balcony. Lord knows we eat a ton of garlic!

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  24. Always nice to read about someone's home garlic growing experience! How did your garlic crop turn out?

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    1. Hi there. It has wintered beautifully and I still have three with nice greens. Our dog unfortunately yanked out out by the roots and it didn't make it :0( But I guess this spring it should turn brown and I can harvest them. I'm excited.

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  25. I would love to try growing my own garlic. Being in Canada, our winters here on the Atlantic coast can be quite severe. Does anyone know if it would survive below zero temperatures? We always have a couple of weeks where the temps are very very cold. And we get lots of snow. So maybe it's a matter of adding more chopped straw for protection... Any comments?

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    1. Garlic likes the cold, and snow is actually a great insulator. I would try it. What do you have to lose but a few cloves?! But I think a nice thick mulch of chopped straw would be a great idea.

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  26. Our is just starting to sprout. So easy and so rewarding...and so nice to see something green coming up at this time of year.

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  27. I'm going to plant it, but I'm wondering if I can plant it closer than 4-6" away from other root crops like soon to be harvested radishes, for example, or if I can plant it close to some tat soi. I planted a 4 x 8' raised bed just with fall crops, but it's difficult to tell how big everything will be when it's all so tiny now! Does garlic need the sun in the Fall and Winter or just in the Spring when the above ground growth happens? First time garlic grower, LOL!! Thanks so much!

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    1. It does need full sun, but doesn't need much room. And since it's just a clove to begin with in the fall, you could plant it right next to anything you'll be pulling before winter for sure, since it won't be the spring when it actually expands and grows to be a whole bulb.

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  28. I bought a big bag of organic garlic from a local grocer and a lot of them had already sprouted so I stuck them in some dirt and by the end of the day the green tops had grown an INCH! I'm in Florida and it's April...I wonder if mine will produce anything? Do you have any experience with planting garlic in the Spring?

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  29. i'm gonna try to plant garlic this fall. Looks
    simple enough

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  30. I leave the smallest ones for another year. When I pull them they are covered in baby cloves. I break the big ones up and save for another replant. The babies have their own spot and they grow into winter onion size that next spring, and by that fall are ready. Kinda awesome! I never even touch the stuff. It cares for it's self!

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