How to Plant Garlic
Now’s the time!

Many, many, many, several, too many to count … years ago, my father brought home some garlic.  He got it from an old Italian man at work.  Actually, I’m making up the old Italian man part, but it seems entirely possible.

And THAT is when my garlic growing obsession began.  I’m obsessed with many things, that’s how I’ve learned to do so much and why I can’t sleep at night because I’m always plotting, planning or cleaning up after my latest venture.  Occasionally I’m getting rid of evidence.

For the first few years of growing garlic I did everything right.  There are rules and regulations to garlic growing, as there are rules and regulations to everything in life.  Especially how one should read the comics from the newspaper.  Which is from back to front.

I produced some terrific garlic during that period.  Then … I got a little lazy.  I forgot to dig it up at the end of the season, left it to rot, ignored it.  Yet, every year … that garlic kept coming.  Kept growing back from the bulbs I rudely left to rot in the ground.

Why am I telling you all this?  To let you know, any idiot can grow garlic.  Seriously.  When’s the last time you watched a television special on the “Remarkable Garlic Growing Person”?  Never.  Because you do not have to be remarkable in any way, shape or form to grow garlic.

You just need some garlic and some dirt.  Oh. And some fall weather.  You need fall weather to plant garlic.  So NOW’S THE TIME!

Now’s your last chance actually.  I’ve left this a bit later than I should have, but if you live in Southern Ontario or a climate similar to Southern Ontario you should be O.K. with planting now.  And by now I mean, today.

You can just buy the garlic you want to plant at your local grocery store.  As long as the garlic hasn’t been treated with anything to keep it from sprouting you’ll be fine.  As a little experiment, I bought 2 heads of garlic.  One bulb of regular giant garlic and a packagage of smaller, organic garlic.  I figure if it’s organic there’s no chance it’s been treated with anything.

side by side garlic

 

Separate your garlic head into separate cloves.  Just pull them apart.  Pick out the biggest cloves for planting.

garlic

 

 

The end with the flat part is the root of the garlic.

14

 

 

The pointy end is the tip of the garlic. It needs to point up.

how-and-when

 

 

You want to plant the garlic “root” end down.  Like so.  The bigger the clove you plant, the bigger the resulting head of garlic will be.  If you sprinkle a little oregano on top of the garlic and squeeze a tomato over everything in 9 months you’ll have grown a delicious marinara sauce.  No you won’t.

time-to-plant

 

 

Plant the cloves so they’re around 4 inches apart and their tips are covered by an inch or two of dirt.
Cover them up and wait.  Through the fall the clove will start to develop roots and maybe even a shoot depending on how warm your weather is.

covering-garlic

 

By the spring with a little help from sun, water and these little guys to aerate  the soil you’ll have garlic plants starting!  A single clove, produces an entire head of garlic.

17

 

Once the scapes form next summer, pinch them off so the plant’s energy can go towards forming the bulb, not the scape flower.  (I’ll review this part next year but for now have a look at this old post I did on using scapes as a flower arrangement.  It’ll give you an idea of what a “scape” is.  Basically it’s the forming flower head and stem of the garlic plant)

By August or so, the plant leaves will start to dry out and turn brown.  Once all the leaves and stems are  brown, they’re ready to harvest.  THEN you can use em for your marinara sauce.


157 Comments

  1. Marti says:

    So by “scape,” you mean the main body as opposed to the leaves. (I don’t know any of this technical garlic growing jargon, so accept my apologies in advance, please?)

    And if I wanted to grow elephant garlic, I could do it this way? I am so tempted to buy some just for planting a few cloves. That would be so incredibly cool!

    • Karen says:

      Marti – Take a look at the scapes I used in a flower arrangement this summer. It’ll give you an idea of what a scape is. Basically it’s the forming flower and attached stem of the garlic plant. https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/flower-of-the-weekscapes/ ~ karen!

      • Steve Evans says:

        Hi Karen,

        I am trying to grow soft neck garlic and it doesn’t want to clove. It put up nice leaves and they stay all season, come June or July and I harvest I get one pretty large bulb with no cloves or indication any were started and several small bulbs about the size of a dime attached to the bottom. What is it I am not doing and need to do? Also, what about watering? I have read that after the leaves come to full height they no longer like to be watered. Any truth in that. I live in north central Florida.

        Thanks,

        Steve

        • Karen says:

          Hi Steve – I’m not completely familiar with southern garlic growing but it sounds like it just didn’t grow enough. I know that sounds stupid, but this could be due to a couple of things. Not a long enough growing season. Did you plant it in October or November? Not enough water. Or a fast, long hot spell that had the plant mature too fast. Did you wait to harvest it until the lower leaves went brown? ~ karen!

          • Steve Evans says:

            Hi Karen,

            Thanks for the prompt reply. I planted in mid Oct. and when I pulled the plant (which I thought was early) the leaves had all browned out and fallen. This is not the first time it’s happened though. They are planted in a 1/2 tub and I have no problems growing other plants in them. Watering could be an issue though, I sometimes do get lazy and forget to water but try to give them a good soaking at least once a week. I had read somewhere that garlic does not like much water after the leaves have reached maturity and I don’t know if that is true or not. I think I will put it in the ground again in Sept. and see what happens. I might even try planting the bulbs from this year (some I have not harvested yet). What about the bulblets that were attached to the large bulb?

            Thanks for taking the time to address my issue.

            Steve

            • Karen says:

              Hi Steve – If I were you I’d start fresh with good garlic. See if you can buy some from an actual garlic farm. Not grocery store garlic, and not the bulbs you have now. For one thing the small bulbs you have now will produce small garlic. The bigger the clove you plant, the bigger the garlic you will get. That’s what I’d do anyway. Good luck! ~ karen!

            • Josh says:

              Garlic needs winter just like a tulip to form a cloved bulb

        • Kathleen says:

          Can we plant garlic that has growth, the top has some growth…..like a plant.
          Is that safe to grow???

          Thanks for any help, First timers with Garlic.

          Kathy

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And elephant garlic would be planted exactly the same, although a lot of cooks prefer to use regular silver skinned garlic because of the taste. ~ karen!

  2. alexandra says:

    Karen- I have a problem… well not a problem so much as an opportunity that could turn out terribly if I don’t do things right.
    My Dad has sent me some garlic, he got it from an old Italian man at work (not kidding). It’s gorgeous. I’m excited about growing garlic. I want to plant it right now. However- I’m moving. Specifically, I’m moving from NC to Buffalo. In December. Will garlic do alright in containers? Will it survive my move? I would assume so if I protect it…but should I transplant in the spring? Should I try to plant it at my mother’s on American Thanksgiving and then prune it while she’s out and steal it from her next year?

    What to do..What to do???

    p.s. I know you’re not The Garlic Queen of Canada but I figured you might have a little bit of advice…

    • Karen says:

      Alexandra – I actually happen to *be* the garlic queen of Canada. I have a sash and everything. You have a couple of choices here. If I were you I’d split the cloves in half (however many you have). Take half of the cloves and keep them in a dark, dry place. Not the fridge. They need a tiny bit of air circulation. A basement maybe. Something like that. In the spring, the very second you can work the soil, plant the garlic like I’ve shown you. The other cloves you can bring with you to Buffalo to try and plant, but knowing Buffalo the way I do, chances are in December you won’t be able to work the soil. However, it’s worth a shot. This way you should end up with garlic one way or another. The bulbs you store should last long enough to still be viable to plant in the spring, and the ones you try to plant in December in Buffalo, might just work out for you. Don’t try to plant them in a pot and grow them in the house. That won’t work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a float to wave from and a parade to lead. ~ the garlic queen of canada

    • Emie says:

      I live in Rochester, NY and I’ve been growing garlic for over 20 years. I’ve forgotten to plant it on occasion…. plant the garlic as soon as yo can work the soil… when you get to Buffalo or when Spring arrives. If you plant in spring you’ll still get garlic… the heads will just be smaller. Also.. I learned early on (from and old Italian man) to save the largest heads of garlic from your harvest. Keep it aside and use those heads to replant in the Fall…. if you do this your heads of garlic will keep getting larger. And, an added benefit, you don’t need to buy it each year to plant. Alexandra…. there’s a winery in the Finger Lakes that has a Garlic Festival every year… they sell many different varieties of garlic… I always get some to plant for the following year.
      HTH, Emie

      • Bonny says:

        Hi Emie, I saw your post on a “garlic” site and you mentioned about a Garlic Festival at a winery on the Finger Lakes. Could you send me the name of the winery/lake. Thanks, Bonny

    • brenda says:

      Alexandra-

      I live in Utah and have been planting garlic every year. One year I waited too long and the ground had froze. New years, there was a slight thaw, maybe you’ll get lucky. If you wait till spring, I have found the heads don’t get very big. Like Karen said keep in the basement, let the air flow. Keep in a paper bag, not in plastic. I eat my smaller cloves, sell some at a local farmer’s market and keep the biggest to plant. I grow mine in a zig zag pattern, still 4 inches apart; but you’ll get more in less space.

      Good luck,

      Brenda

  3. karenagain says:

    Today is the day for the latest snowfall day in Edmonton history ever (according to my Grade 2 boasty neice and her little sister). And no snow has fallen yet this year. But, I don’t live in Edmonton and I got snow on Thursday. Can I still plant garlic?

    Does one clove grow into a head/bulb that you unearth come summer? Please explain. Garlic should be easy but it confuses me. I bought bulbs in the spring, never planted them, because I didn’t know which end was up. You have explained that. Now I know. Thanks Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Karenagain – Yes, one clove of garlic will turn into one entire head of garlic. (hopefully) The odd time all you get is one big, stupid clove. It maybe be too late for garlic planting in Edmonton, I’m afraid. The roots need a chance to grow a bit before the hard frost hits and it stops growing. I’ve left planting my garlic too late for even Ontario, but it should be fine here. If you can still work the ground, you might as well give it a shot! What the hell. ~ karen

  4. karenagain says:

    I’ll give it a try tomorrow. I have nothing to lose. Thanks again. BTW, fresh garlic is my BF’s favorite snack (ewww). I buy it at the Farmer’s Market for him, but I would love to grow it myself. BTW, he NEVER gets sick.

  5. Heather says:

    I love your blog and happen to be in the Garlic business. We get questions about planting garlic ALL THE TIME and I love your blog post and wonder if we might repost and link to you from our website… http://www.garlicfestival.com??

    Thanks Garlic Queen of Canada.. from a Garlic Princess in California 🙂

  6. marilyn says:

    hey karen does it matter if the garlic is the chinese stuff? im pretty sure that is what is in the grocery stores these days? my bro in law grows amazing garlic but i ran out of it so will have to resort to planting the grocery store stuff. thanks for the tips.

    • Karen says:

      Marlyn – You have to make sure the garlic hasn’t been treated to keep it from sprouting. Just buy some organic garlic to plant and you should be fine! Barring that, you could go to a seed store and see i they have any garlic for planting there to sell. ~ karen

  7. Jules says:

    SO Im really dumb when it comes to planting….like baking, I feel like I need a step by step..so my question it…does it matter WHAT dirt? any dirt? like just pick a spot in my yard and throw it in?- doesnt matter how deep?
    Im anal I know..(annoying)..I think thats why I cant grow anything..
    Ill try this though..TODAY!
    Thanks Karen
    Jules

    • Karen says:

      Jules – I mentioned in the post that you should plant them so the tip is covered by an inch or 2 of dirt. And any soil will do. Most vegetables and such like full sun and good drainage. ~ karen!

  8. Sharmila says:

    Hi Karen, I live in MA, US. I am heading out right now with my daughter to plant GARLIC… I love your humor… every bit of it… When I finish this garlic project I will post the pics on my blog..She is only three has no clue but she hangs around with me a lot so she knows her garlic and onions… moms little girl… we have done some heavy bulb planting this fall… why not do some garlic… after hearing your adventures of GARLIC we want to give a try… Too bad I cannot plant the marinara suace…

  9. Lorri-Ann says:

    Karen,
    How much sun do the garlic plants need. Is morning or afternoon OK or do they need a full dose of midday sun exposure? Do they tolerate any shade? Thanks,
    Lorri-Ann

    • Karen says:

      Lorri-Ann – Like most vegetables or herbs, garlic likes to get as much sun as possible. A little bit of shade at some point in the day is fine, but the more sun, the bigger and better the bulbs will be. ~ karen

  10. Pam says:

    I have garlic in my perennial beds because the stalks and tops are very ornamental. And last a really long time… They’re my favorite!

    Pam

  11. Boy oh boy your soil looks good.

    • Pam says:

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. “Dang, look at that soil!” Here in Oklahoma our garlic is likely to drown – our clay traps all the rain. Then, during the long, HOT summer, the rains stop and everything dries up and blows away.

      Can you tell I’ve given up on any sort of gardening here in OK?

      I do love looking at good gardening pictures, though, and isn’t it funny to be jealous of CANADA? When I lived in Montana, we thought the southern half of North America had it made garden-wise! 🙂

  12. Heather says:

    Wonderful! I love garlic, and I cannot get enough of it!

  13. Claudine says:

    Both this and the scape post are thoroughly enjoyable! Thanks. But I hope no one reads this and comes and picks things out of my garden…

  14. Chrissy says:

    I just planted my garlic yesterday! I thought it was a little late in the season, but better late than never. I planted organic cloves from a farmer’s market the fall before, but nothing ever came up. I’m not at all sure why. Apparently there is something remarkable about me because I CAN”T grow garlic? I picked a different spot this year and got seed garlic. We’ll see.

  15. Andrea says:

    I will plant today! YAY I finally have some information from someone I trust on planting garlic! I have a planter at my apartment, out on the balcony. Will this suffice for planting? Should I be getting a worm or two to live in there? And Should I be leaving the planter on the balcony over the winter or bringing it inside?

    Thank you for the amazing post! I was really stumped! REALLY!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Andrea – I’ve never grown garlic in a planter, but it shouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think. No you don’t need to get worms, LOL. Keep the planter outside. Don’t bring it in. Just plant the garlic the way I’ve shown you and hope for the best! ~ karen

      • Clare says:

        Hi there

        I have successfully grown garlic in a planter on a balcony. Just make sure it is a reasonable size (ie at least 12 inches/ 30 cm deep, use a reasonable quality potting mix, and make sure it gets enough sun.
        We grew fabulous elephant garlic year after year on in the same pot, keeping some back from each crop to start the next. Plus the flowers are really pretty while you wait for the garlic …

  16. Shawna says:

    Thank you for the kick in the pants that I needed! I have had garlic sitting on my counter for two weeks waiting to be planted. It’s now sprouting inside and I am getting up from my chair and heading out the door to plant it. Right now!

  17. Lonelle says:

    Hmmm…we got a huge (for So Cal, lol) hail storm last night and everything is frozen this morning!! I guess its to late for me to plant right?

    • Karen says:

      Lonelle – I’m not sure about planting in Southern California … but for the price of the garlic, and the fun of the reward, I’d say as soon as you can work the soil, plant the garlic and see what happens. Then in the early, early spring plant some more. From the both plantings, something should end up producing garlic! ~ karen

      • Lonelle says:

        Thanks!! I am going to try it!! It is pretty unusual to have snow/hail this early (at least in the 12 yrs I have lived here!!) I am going to plant some in some containers on the front porch since I have all the supplies!

  18. Brenda j says:

    Good to know; as the ones I put in, in the spring did notta! Now I know why.

  19. Laura says:

    Thank you! I planted garlic a few years ago, but didn’t know when they were supposed to be ready. I just left them! I’m going to go plant more right now! (I have some crocus bulbs waiting to be put in too. Thanks for the reminder.)

  20. Nancy says:

    I remember the post with the garlic scapes..they looked so pretty the way you arranged them..I think I will give the garlic planting a try!!

  21. Shauna says:

    We just planted garlic for the first time ever as well. They grow so quickly, we already have green shoots coming out of the ground.

  22. This is pure, simple awesomness! Why the heck have I never even considered growing my absolute favorite errr, food? I live in Phoenix, so I should be o.k. to plant a few bulbs right?

    p.s./fyi
    just because something is Organic is not a guaruntee that it hasn’t been sprayed w pesticides. yup, I was shocked too.

  23. Vinci.L says:

    How often do you have to water them in Vancouver BC or do you just leave them in the soil???? Thanks for the awesome post!!!!!!!! Yum garlic bread!!!! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Vinci.L – Just leave em in the ground. Come spring treat them like any other vegetable. Water when it’s dry. Although being in Vancouver … you should probably be O.K. 🙂 ~ karen

  24. Eva says:

    ooooh thanks for the post! totally doing it this weekend. just have to decide where….

  25. Blair says:

    Would it be acceptable to do this in a pot? I live in an apartment so my gardening has to happen on my patio…

    • Karen says:

      Blair – Yup. Just make sure the pot is big enough. The bigger the better. At least 12″ deep. Keep it watered and make sure it’s in the sun. Those long rectangular planters work well too, as long as they’re big and deep. ~ karen!

  26. Becky says:

    There was a little girl who did an organic vs regular sweet potato experiment…I wonder if you’ve seen her video. Very compelling stuff. I’m curious to see how your regular garlic bulb grows compared to your organic bulb.

    Here’s a link to her video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exBEFCiWyW0

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Becky! I’ll have a look. When I ran into town yesterday to pick up a few things a small shop had “local” garlic which was obviously never sprayed with anything and it looked just like the stuff I used to grow from my dad. Very small with 6 or so cloves to each head. I’m thinking of ripping out the regular store stuff and planting this now! What dope. 🙂 ~ karen

  27. Tracy says:

    This is so awesome. I am determined to make a “Lazy Girl raised bed Garden” using cinder blocks this coming spring and use only low maintenance veggies to plant (or whatever….) This is perfect! Only..I guess I need to start “today” right?! LOL!

  28. Patty says:

    What I just started doing may be a total fail, but I had some garlic growing in my refrigerator last week, so I planted it in a few pots indoors (it’s getting very cold outside and my raised garden isn’t built yet). In only 5 days my garlic has grown 4 inches. I’m not kidding! I’m going to cut it back so it can concentrate on growing the bulbs and see what happens. Even if I don’t get good garlic bulbs, it’s been alot of fun with garlic that I would have ordinarily thrown away!

    • Karen says:

      Patty – Put it outside! Put it outside! And don’t cut it back! Oh dear. You only pinch the top portion of the stem back once it’s around 2 feet high or more and has started to form the scape. The flower bud portion of the plant. The garlic likes this winter business. At the very least, take half of it out and plant it outside. In a deep pot is fine. If the sprouts are outside of the soil, that’s fine. The winter won’t harm them. ~ karen! (let me know how the indoor stuff works.)

    • Sandy Blackford says:

      Patty I hope you ate the trimmings that you cut off the garlic plants, they are delish cut up in a salad… best not to trim them at all though until it is time to cut off the scapes…don’t waste those either! ps. I have just planted a few garlic cloves in pots in my hot tub room, temp in there is about 55 – 60 . Light conditions are not great but they do get early morning sun. I am hoping to be able to harvest a few green stalks to put in my salad. I have my main garlic crop already planted in my raised beds. Also, dried scapes make a fantastic mild, garlic powder….I would be happy to email the “recipe” to anyone who is interested. I hope that would be ok to do that Garlic Queen?

      sandie.black@gmail.com

  29. KittyCardea says:

    I’ve tried planting the garlic from the produce section. It hasn’t worked. It always grows for a bit, then dies. I am fairly sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. A friend suggested that the problem is that most of our grocery store garlic comes from China. ((shrug)) So, this year I’m buying garlic sets from the lawn and garden store.

  30. Kelly says:

    Dad you should add garlic to the garden!

  31. alane123 says:

    I had unknowingly left a head of garlic in a glass measuring cup, inside the cabinet, in N.Carolina for 3 dark/cold winter months, no heat or electric on in the house. And (tada) I came back to find wonderful green sprouts ! Here I wasted all that time planting it in the dirt outside, sheesh. But, this year, fortified with all this inside info, I will be the neighborhood Garden Garlic Princess ! Mucho thanks !

  32. Nicole says:

    Please stop the pop-up survey questions… they are the worst and ruin your amazing site. Who wants to be on a site with a pop-up that keeps scrolling down the page? And all the “ad choices” info above your banner? Its awful.

    • Karen says:

      Nicole – First of all, ads are the only way bloggers make money. You don’t have to pay for the posts, so we need to get paid somehow. I’ve changed ad networks and things haven’t settled in yet. There aren’t supposed to be any pop up survey ads. However, the banner ad at the top of my site will be staying. I don’t see anything wrong with it. If I were to take all my ads down, sadly, I’d have to take down the whole site. Most people who read blogs don’t understand, that the only way we make money is from those ads. Get rid of the ads, then you get rid of the sites. (This blog is a full time job requiring around 10 hours a day, 6 days a week of work) Hopefully you can live with the odd ad, although I agree the pop ups aren’t supposed to be there. I’ll look into it. ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And I meant to say, whenever there are upgrades or changes to my site that might make it perform differently for a while I always post about it on Facebook. If you join up, you’ll be warned of things like the ads or when I’m upgrading my server etc. ~ k

  33. Hannah Jarboe says:

    I live in Northern Texas. When is a good time for me to start planting garlic? I’m really wanting to try this. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hannah. If you can work the soil you can probably run out and plant it now. You need to get it in the ground as quickly as possible. Fall is best, but if you can get it in early spring, you should have garlic by August or so. ~ karen!

  34. Andreae says:

    Hey guess what! I have been planting the same brand of organic grocery store garlic as the one in your photo for the last two years, and it has been excellent. I got in there really late this year (really late… like after Christmas late…) but I’m in Newfoundland where the weather is ridiculous, so I take planting times as just kind of a polite suggestion. The soil in my garlic bed was partially frozen, so I could only just barely cover the cloves. As soon as I could chip away the frozen compost from my inefficient and partially rotten composter this spring, I put a nice, thick layer on top of my garlic babies, followed by another layer of soil. Now, despite my abusive behaviour, I have a gorgeous-looking army of garlic plants coming up through the soil, looking like total street toughs in the freak snowfall we had here yesterday. Oh, indestructible garlic, you are mighty. I might get small crappy cloves this year due to my tardiness, but I’m really in it for the scapes anyway (my favourite vegetable, but I’ve been eating them for, like, ten years, so I’m old school and I’m allowed… I would totally have eaten your flower arrangements… no, I wouldn’t have, but I would have thought about it…).

  35. Susie says:

    Hi! Quick question-would you recommend rehydrating the (store bought) garlic before planting it? Like sticking it in some water for an hour or so? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie. No, there’s no reason to do that. It’s actually too late to plant garlic now. Depending on where you are, the end of October/November is the time to plant. You can get away with planting it any time in the very late fall or even winter as long as the ground is workable. ~ karen!

  36. Pats says:

    I have chives in small pots that I leave outside year round. (I’m in Plant Hardiness Zone 5) They come back year after year. I bet I could do this with garlic too!

    • Karen says:

      Pats – Indeed you could! But it wouldn’t work :(. Garlic has to be planted every fall from the cloves of a garlic head. HOWEVER, if the pot is HUGE enough (deep) you could give growing them in a pot every year a try. Or is that what you meant? Oops. Nevermind. ~ karen

  37. Lisa says:

    Hi Karen! I was wondering when you’ll have an update on harvesting garlic. I’m in zone 3 (North Dakota) & my organic grocery store garlic is starting to dry/die back, so I’m not sure how long to cure it and all that fun stuff, counting on ya! (no pressure)
    🙂 Lisa

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa! I planned to do a garlic post soon, but here’s a tip. When around half the leaves have died back, it’s time to dig up your garlic. You don’t want to wait until the whole plant has browned, otherwise the garlic will be dried out. ~ karen!

  38. Dawn Aran says:

    I live in MIami, Florida. would i be able to grow it down here….”open the oven door” heat and “wring out ur shirt” humidity during the summer. when? need shade? how long to get a harvest. I’m full of very simple questions, i know. Never grew a veg garden. this will be my 1st attempt… complete novice here!
    thanks for any advice & tips,
    Dawn

    • Karen says:

      Dawn – You can grow garlic in Florida, it’s just a little trickier. Garlic likes the winter. You can do it but you’ll have to grow a different variety than I do. I grow hard neck garlic, where you’d be better off choosing a soft neck for your region. Go to a farmers market if there’s one around you and buy some of their garlic to plant. That way you know it won’t be sprayed with a sprout inhibitor and you know it will grow in your area. Don’t buy it from a grocery store because you have no idea where it has come from or whether or not it will grow in your area. Or grow at all! Often grocery store heads of garlic won’t sprout because they’ve been sprayed with something to stop sprouting. You want to plant around December. (November and January would be fine too) Whenever the days are the shortest. Good luck. ~ karen!

      • Dawn Aran says:

        THANKS! we do have a few farmers markets and i plan to ck them out! will give this a try in Dec. I love garlic so it wld b fun to eat some that i’ve grown
        Dawn

  39. sharon says:

    I’m buying some garlic tomorrow! I love reading your post’s!Your so down to earth,funny,and a very smart cookie! Thanks for all you shared ideas

  40. Becca Gater says:

    I apologize if you have already answered this… Is there a problem with planting in containers outside? Also how much sun do they need? I am in NJ, if that makes a difference.
    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi becca! I’m in Ontario, Canada so we have solar climates. I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to plant garlic in pots outside. Just make sure they’re in full sun (or the most sun you have access to) and you remember to keep them watered. I have a hunch they’d do better in the ground but I think they’ll work in a big pot with good soil. Don’t plant them until the end of October or so. Good luck! – karen!

  41. Donna T says:

    Hi from Oregon! I grew garlic for years starting with a few cloves I bought at the local grocery store (luckily they had apparently not been sprayed with growth inhibitor!). I noticed the elephant garlic had little hard “corms” attached to the roots of the huge heads when I dug them up. I left those behind in the soil, and Wa Laa! They grew garlic even when I didn’t get around to replanting. The “corms” look like tiny hard cloves of garlic, about the size of a large marble. Oh yes, and I also had a few garlic that grew a head kind of like an onion… one large head, no cloves. Weird, but interesting addition to my garlic “collection”.

  42. Kels says:

    So.. these scapes… they’re useless???? My kids “accidentally” threw some garlic out that was laying in the garage (waiting to be taken into the house). The next year, I had these long plants growing and then what I thought was seeds. I never harvested it because I didn’t know when.. because I thought they were seeds etc.. Anyways.. what are the scapes for? They are pretty for decorations but when they open and seed, they’re not so pretty.

    • Melissa says:

      Scapes are definitely NOT useless!!! 😀 They are very Yummy (especially if you love garlic! -I sautee or steam them (by themselves of with other veggies) add butter, and add them to stir frys! I did an experiment and noticed no difference in yield between those I “pinched off” and those I didn’t. Also the top sets (the mini bulblets can be used to grow scallion-like baby garlic)

      This website says basically the same things: (they even did the same experiment)

      -http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/blogs/organic-gardening/growing-garlic-460709

  43. Debbie D'Alfonso says:

    Am going to plant some in a flower bed that contains ornamental grass plants as it gets the most sun. My other choice is under a deck that gets sun until mid day. Both are close to my neighbor’s black walnut tree. I have had tomatoes that will not grow because of the tree. Will the garlic thrive? Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie – Plant your garlic in either location. I don’t have any personal experience with this, but from what I know, garlic, onions, beans and corn are some of the vegetables that aren’t harmed by the toxins released by the Black Walnut. So plant away! ~ karen

  44. Cathy says:

    Gosh, this is so timely. We got our first snow this week and it has been cold the last few days but I think I can still plant garlic; gonna try anyway.Is this when you plant onions in Zone 4B or do they plant in the spring? Thanks so much, Karen! I just love your blog and your chicken advice has been invaluable. I love the chickens!! One more question – Can you freeze eggs? We have many more than we can eat and give away and I don’t want to waste them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy – You can plant your garlic as long as you can work the ground. If it isn’t frozen … you can plant it. Now is not the time to plant onions. Wait til the spring. I’ve heard you can freeze eggs, but I’ve never done it myself so I have no idea how they are afterwards. My guess is they’d be watery. Give it a shot! ~ karen

  45. Britt says:

    Hi

    Thanks so much for your post! I wanted to ask you a question. I ordered my garlic a little late and now we are into some very cold weather. I live in utah zone 6. Can you suggest what I should do with my garlic or do i just toss it because it is too late to do anything with it? I have never grown garlic before so I don’t know much about it. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Britt – If you can dig … you can plant. I planted a few bulbs in January last year because it never ended up getting cold in Southern Ontario. (it was a very weird winter). Zone 6 is great hardneck garlic conditions. So like I say, if the ground is still workable plant the garlic. If not, just wait until you have a bit of a thaw and run out and plant it. Otherwise, get it into the ground as SOON as you can in the spring. The second the ground thaws out plant it. It’ll be fine! Just keep your garlic stored in a cool, dry place. It may start to sprout on you, but that’s O.K. The cool room should help to keep it from sprouting though. ~ karen

  46. Charlie says:

    Hello my name is Charlie Anne and i am looking to grow some garlic for the first time. I live in WA state and am wondering if i can plan garlic now or if i have waited to long? Currently its been in the 30’s and 40’s at night here, does that mean its too late to plant? Thank you so much for your time, and i am looking forward to hearing back..

  47. Crystal says:

    read your article. Loved your humour. And love garlic too….thanks for sharing! 🙂

  48. Lori says:

    Scapes are delicious too! I use them in salsa and other recipes that call for green oinions….

  49. Heidi says:

    Hi, I live in Picayune, Mississippi (southern MS).

    When is the best time for me to plant garlic. I was dying to plant some this spring but saw it’s a fall veggie:( I LOVE garlic!!

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  51. Tiffany says:

    Hi , im just wondering what time of the year would be better to plant them ?, i live in TX and I’m thinking of waiting the sun to start burning down here to start the planting 🙂

  52. Lindsay says:

    Fantastic tutorial on planting and growing, but garlic is one crop you probably shouldn’t plant from the grocery store. Most garlic in US grocery stores is from China, and isn’t allowed to be imported into many countries because of the way it’s grown and chemically treated. (See: http://www.naturalnews.com/022801.html )

    The flavor is better on varieties that weren’t developed for industrialized farming, and since it’s a bulb you only have to buy one year (you can replant from your harvest) it’s totally worth it to get a variety that’s ranked well for your zone and grown organically or at least domestically.

    I grow “music” from territorial seed and love it!

    • geoponic says:

      i agree about store bought garlic. ive experimented w/it several growing seasons and got far superior results w/ “seed” garlic., so if you can find a source then buy it. it is more expensive but well worth it.

  53. Sue says:

    This is great. Thanks. I just had to say that you are hilarious. I absolutely love your writing style. I’d love to read a book written by you.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Sue! For now you’ll have to rely on my blog for reading material. But I think I have close to 1,000 posts, so that should keep you busy for a while. ~ karen!

  54. Amanda says:

    Hey Karen,
    Saw you on Pinterest & checked out the garlic…because it’s awesome. Anyways…what is the gestation period from planting to harvest?

  55. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m a ‘newbie’ to Pinterest and loving all the info sharing. About a month or two ago I planted some garlic bulbs in a container from something I saw on Pinterest. I keep trimming the growth, and they have become fairly sturdy in the soil, however, I saw your reply about not trying to grow them indoors, and I wasn’t sure when I could transplant or harvest them. So my question is, do you think I could ease them out of the container and transplant them outside in my itty bitty garden, to harvest in July/August?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary Ann – I’m a bit concerned/confused by why you keep trimming the growth. That’s definitely something I’ve never heard of. If I were you I’d stop trimming. In fact, definitely stop trimming. I can tell you unless you have a greenhouse the garlic won’t grow to a mature garlic plant unless you get them outside, so you may as well try. The first thing you need to do is “harden them off”. Take your pot of garlic outside for a couple of hours today but make sure they’re in the shade. Then tomorrow do the same let them get a bit of sun. Not full sun for 3 hours, just a bit. The next day allow full sun for the day and allow them to stay out overnight. Finally, either in the early morning or evening, plant them in the spot you want to grow them. ~ karen!

  56. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Karen, Wow, who knew! I just followed what I read since I knew “zero” about growing garlic. She mentioned trimming the green sprout would send the energy back into the bulb…anyways…nothing ventured, nothing gained! I will follow your great advice and thank you so much, really appreciate it!

  57. Angela says:

    I just saw this for the first time. Thank you! You’re funny, I love the Marinara sauce *.

  58. Charlene says:

    By this blog…guess Florida is not the ideal place for garlic….mine ended up looking like a small onion…

  59. Patty Jones says:

    I would love to grow garlic, but have a few questions.. Why do you plant in the fall? I live in Oklahoma and we get snow, is that ok? Why can’t you plant in spring when the soil warms up and then harvest in fall? Thank you for helping me. Patty

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty – Garlic is the type of bulb that needs exposure to cold in order for it to flourish. The same way other spring flowering bulbs do. Think of garlic like hyacinths, tulips, and other bulbs that need to be planted in the fall in order to bloom the next year. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

  60. KayleneP says:

    Very nice article, I can really relate to your situation! I have just planted out my garlic and then when I was weeding the old garlic patch I came across dozens of garlic bulbs sending up shoots!
    This was an old neglected patch that was still producing new plants!

  61. Brittany says:

    Hi Karen,

    I was wondering how well garlic grows in Phoenix? We have highs in the 100’s well into October…and then starting again in May usually. Any tips?

    Thanks, Brittany.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brittany – There are varieties of garlic that suit hot climates better. Hardneck varieties, like the ones I grow, are suited for areas that have a dormant period (a few months of cold). These varieties need this cold period in order to grow. Check with local growers, or even grocery stores as to what varieties grow in your area. Chances are it will be a soft neck variety. Good luck. ~ karen!

  62. tom masterson says:

    I live in the Cleveland ohio area and would love to plant garlic. When do i do this? /Before the winder or in the spring? I have had different suggestions on when to do it and would like to know what to do for good results. Is there just one bulb planted in the hole and then is is covered or just left open to grown on its own? thanks for any info you can provide me. I love garlic and use it quite often.
    tom masterson

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tom – You should plant your garlic somewhere between late October and late November. Before the ground freezes but after the heat of summer. Yes, you need to cover each clove with soil. If you plant it in October you may see little sprouts starting to grow. This is fine. Buy your garlic now from a local garlic grower and you’ll have the most amount of success. Good luck! ~ karen

  63. Orlena says:

    I’ve never grown a garden but always wanted to. Do you think I could grow garlic here in Las Vegas Nevada?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Orlena – I don’t think you should have any problems growing garlic in Vegas. You should be able to grow both hardneck and softneck garlic. Just make sure you have nice soft soil with some compost in it and make sure to buy garlic from a good garlic source. Farmer’s markets and that sort of thing should have some for you to buy right now. Plant it when the weather starts to get cooler. November or December. Good luck! ~ karen

  64. Ava says:

    I plant garlic…just for the scapes!!! I watch them like a hawk, when I think they’re ready, not about to turn yellow, I cut them off, wash them, cut them into 3″ strips, blanch them (longer if I’ve left them too long and they’re woody, more like a boil until soft) them I make scape pesto, I forgo the pinenuts incase someone has nut allergies, but make scape pesto like basil pesto…it is the best!! freeze in cubes or small snack size zippy bags, on top of steak, baked potatoes, in mussels, on bagette for bruschetta….and on and on……better than garlic!!

  65. Anne-Marie says:

    Good afternoon Princess! I’ve planted (organic) garlic in my veggie beds for 3 years and was all set to plant more in October .. but!! I’ve been reading about garlic rust and garlic white rot and how garlic should be rotated with other veggies! So sad, as I have really only one place to plant them in the full sun! (Victoria, BC) So this year I will grow them in deep containers. Have you experienced these garlic diseases? Or do you rotate to avoid them?
    Thanks .. I like your sense of humour!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne-Marie – I’ve never had a single problem with garlic until this year. And I got something weird. Half of my garlic rotted. It spread from one plant to another. I believe it was the dreaded garlic white rot. I’ve only planted in this one particular spot for a single year, (normally you’re O.K. to rotate every 3 years or so) but I’ll definitely be moving it next year. ~ karen!

  66. marvin says:

    Am starting on my third year with some wild and some purchased–the bulblets on and in the roots– do they reproduce like the separate cloves? If left in the ground do smaller heads eventually get to be large heads(several years later)?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marvin – Leaving smaller bulbs or heads of garlic in the ground will never produce great big heads of garlic. Then tend to just rot. The best thing to do is to dig the bed up at the end of each year and plant a new bed with new cloves from new bulbs. ~ karen!

  67. melissa says:

    I bought 2 heads of garlic at Wal-Mart from the big bin of loose garlic. I didn’t know about the “spray to prevent sprouting”, and I’ve had Wal-Mart garlic grow sprouts when I haven’t used it quickly enough. Should I risk planting these or try to find an organic type of garlic? I’m in southern IN, and it’s still in the 60’s, so I should have a bit of planting leeway yet. Thank you so much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa – Sure! If you can’t find any garlic anywhere else, give it a shot. Chances are it’ll be fine. Try to hold off on planting until you’ve had your first frost. ~ karen!

  68. Janice says:

    ok, I just realized that I peeled all the skin off my garlic before planting this fall. did I wreck it all?

  69. connie says:

    I’ve been growing garlic for years and live in North Dakota, unless I missed it – I didn’t see anything posted here regarding mulching. I’ve tried many different kinds of mulch with varying success. What are your thoughts on this? Other than weed control, is it needed to protect the cloves during the winter?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Connie – The only thing my cloves have ever needed protection from are squirrels! I personally have never consciously mulched my garlic bed. I may forget to rake leaves on it every once in a while, but that’s about it. I’ve always had a 100% germination rate (or close to it). ~ karen!

  70. Nicole says:

    You’re funny…I love the way you write…and think….I made pesto with my scapes last year…flower arrangements too (they are lovely)….but the best way to enjoy the scapes is to sautee them in butter with fresh asparagus…they both pop up out of the ground around the same time! Thanks for making me smile! Nicole

  71. Diane says:

    Surfing the web during our Blizzard of 2014 for garden tips and found this great information on garlic. Any chance I dig through the icy soil and plant it now or should I wait til Fall? I don’t want to plant in spring and get smaller bulbs. I will have to go to the store to buy some patiences to wait all the way to Aug 2015 for my home grown garlic.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane! Don’t go digging through the soil now, lol. If you put them in the ground now they aren’t going to do anything anyway. Just wait until the ground is workable and plant them then. They’ll be fine. 🙂 ~ karen!

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  73. Jeanene says:

    It’s May and I just bought two pots with three garlic plants in each. They are about 15 inches tall. If they can only be planted in the fall what should I do with with my plants now? Put them in the ground anyway? Thanks 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jeanene – If they’re 15″ tall already that means they’re growing and were probably planted last fall. 🙂 So depending on the size of the pot, you can either leave them in there (making sure they’re watered well, or you can carefully transplant them into your garden in full sun. You’ll have full heads of garlic around August. ~ karen !

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  76. dave says:

    i planted my garlick early oct. i checked one clove and it,s getting roots. we are getting extreamly warn weather here in southern bc. and the weather is going to stay warm for awile yet. if the garlick starts to sprout before ground freezes will it be damaged.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dave! You’re garlic is doing exactly what it should. Getting some root mass going. You’re very likely to see some shoots coming up and that’s just fine. Expected even. You’re on your way to some home grown garlic! ~ karen

  77. Vicki says:

    Planted garlic before in Ohio about 60 miles south of Cleveland. The squirrels got it. Have any suggestions how to stop them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vicki. I’ve only had problems with my garlic and squirrels once. And honestly, all I did was replant it all. They didn’t touch it again. It angered me though because I had carefully planted a bunch of different varieties and labelled the rows and those dumb squirrels screwed everything up! I had no idea what went where. I have had some luck with other bulbs by spreading rose branch clippings all over the area. If I were you and you have access to any thorny branches, that’s probably what I would do. ~ karen!

  78. George Sayers says:

    I too had problems with squirrels this year in my garlic patch. This is the first time for that to happen. I spread dried blood, purchased at agway, over the patch. This product worked quite well to keep the squirrels out and it works good to keep rabbits out too.

  79. Pamela says:

    Is it too late to plant in NYC area?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela! Nope, you’re still good. NYC is pretty close to my weather in Southern Ontario. And to tell you the truth, as long as you can work the ground you can plant garlic. It might not get quite as large as if you planted it a few weeks ago but it’s not going to make too much of a difference. Good luck! ~ karen

  80. anez says:

    I appreciate….i’m going to start garlic growing but i guess i’ve already got 3/4 of the knowlegde i need.thanks karen

  81. Rodrigo Campos says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading everybody’s comments and replies. Garlic is one of those things that holds a special place in a person’s heart. Especially if you grow the stuff. We farm it in the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island. Yellow Point Blues. Hottest, dryest summer in decades and bumper crop city this year. We didn’t water once. Babyed the soil. It’s an incredible plant.

  82. Jamie says:

    My mother in law had garlic growing in her yard that her dad planted 60-70 years ago. She didn’t want it anymore and told me I could have whatever I wanted. So I dug up all different sizes of plants to replant. The bulbs develop little mini clove looking nodules and she says that they’re “mini garlic plants” but couldn’t say for sure how to plant and grow them. Is this true, and if so can they be saved for a season or two before planting?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jamie. Any garlic clove that grows underground from the original bulb can be planted to produce more garlic. But it can’t be saved for any longer than a season because it’ll dry out. If you’re talking about the little seeds that grow at the top of the plant from the scape, then yes those can be saved and planted, but it takes a longggg time (a few years) for them to become actual garlic. You get a true duplicate of the plant, but it’s a bit of a pain. ~ karen!

  83. Tara says:

    Hi I was wondering , going to try and grow garlic for the first time this year, I bought the garlic today at plant store, where do I store them , because I won’t be planting them until last of October , what would be the best place

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tara. Just store the garlic somewhere cool and dry. But even if you don’t have a cool, dry place the garlic will be fine until October. 🙂 ~ karen!

  84. Devin says:

    Hi Karen!

    This past summer was the first time I actually had a real garden and I was decently successful (probably in large part thanks to you!). You’re Facebook post reminded me that I have to plant my garlic bulbs this weekend, but I’m somewhat limited in space. I have a 4 by 6 foot raised garden bed and I’ve already taken everything out of it for the year. Can you plant garlic in a raised garden bed? And if you can, what do you do when the spring comes along and you have to turn the garden and add compost? Do you just avoid the areas where you planted the bulbs? Finally, do you recommend a specific spot in the raised garden bed? I used the square foot method last year, should I just choose a corner and plant it in 1 or 2 square feet? Or should I plant them in a row along one end?

    Thanks in advance ?

  85. Susan says:

    Hi,
    Do we only cut the scapes or do we cut the leaves back also?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan! When the time comes you just cut off the scapes. Just pinch or cut them off right where they’re coming out of the centre of the leaves. ~ karen!

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