How to Grow Garlic: When to Plant, When to Harvest, and How to Store

When prepping, you know you need to store things like beans, potatoes, rice, and meat, but what about the things that will add some flavor to your life in the event things go sideways? Garlic is easy to grow and store — and it’s flavorful.

Let’s find out how to grow and store garlic, no matter where you live.

cut garlic sitting on a table

Why Learn How to Grow Garlic?

In addition to the flavor value that garlic will add to your meals, it also packs some nutrients you will need when eating a pared-down menu. For instance, garlic contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Some studies even show that garlic can help reduce sick time with common colds and even reduce high blood pressure — something good to have around when other options may not be available.

Finally, when you learn how to grow garlic, it will help in your garden. Garlic has natural pesticide and fungicide properties that will defend your other plants, such as lettuce, against pests. And if pests do get in your garden, you can whip up a batch of garlic pepper tea spray to drive them out quickly.

Which Type of Garlic Should You Plant?

When choosing which types of garlic to plant, you will find many choices. But there are two categories of garlic: softneck and hardneck. The type you plant will depend on the area you live in.

Softneck garlic is hardy and lasts longer than hardneck garlic, which is ideal for a prepping situation. The garlic stems die down completely as the garlic matures, and people typically use these flexible stems to braid the garlic for storage.

Hardneck garlic is a great choice for people living in a cold climate. In warmer climates, they may refuse to produce or will split as the temperature warms up. The stems also die down, but a stiff middle shaft remains, making it impossible to brain this type of garlic.

How to Grow Garlic from Kitchen Scraps?

Peeled and unpeeled garlic sitting side by side on a table

You can purchase garlic starts from your local nursery, but the truth is, you don’t have to. Instead, if you purchase organic garlic from your grocery store, you can separate the gloves and grow garlic from scraps. Just follow the instructions below whether you purchase cloves from a nursery or the grocery store.

When to Plant Garlic

The time of year you should plant garlic depends on where you live. If you live in a warm climate, plan on planting your garden in the spring. If you live in a cold climate, the fall is the best time for planting garlic.

How to plant garlic in the fall

Although garlic won’t begin to come up in your garden until spring, it is best planted in the fall if you live in a warm climate. Specifically, you should wait to plant garlic until after the autumnal equinox, which is in late September — roughly six to eight weeks before the ground freezes. That will allow it to get a head start and then begin maturing during the long daylight hours of summer.

While this is generally a good time to plant garlic, it would be smart to check with your local extension office to determine the best time to plant garlic in your area.

How to plant garlic in the spring

If you live in a cold climate, spring is the best time to plant your garlic. That’s because garlic may not survive outside in very cold or freezing temperatures. As soon as you can work the ground, likely in February or March, you can plant the garlic.

How to Plant Garlic

If you’re looking for something easy to grow in your garden, garlic is it. To plant garlic, you will use the garlic bulbs and plant them in the dirt. Then, each bulb will grow into a new garlic head. Be sure to plant the largest garlic bulbs so your new garlic head will be robust and healthy.

How to Plant Garlic Bulbs

white garlic lot

When planting garlic, you have two choices of how to do it. Either way works as well, but people typically prefer one way over the other. You can either simply plant the garlic bulbs or soak them first.

Soak the garlic bulbs

If you want to give your garlic bulbs a kick start before planting them, you can soak them. To soak garlic cloves, create a mixture of one tablespoon of organic fish fertilizer, one tablespoon of baking soda, and a gallon of water. This concoction will act as a preventative measure against fungal diseases that can affect garlic.

Soaking your garlic will also jumpstart the growing process by giving the bulb extra energy. After soaking them for 15 minutes to a few hours, drop them in a jar filled with 70 percent Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, vodka, or hydrogen peroxide. That will kill any mites hiding in the garlic, so they don’t wreak havoc on it next spring.

Drain the garlic, and be sure to plant it within an hour after soaking it.

Plant them without soaking

You don’t have to soak your garlic. If you want to skip this step, start by separating the cloves from the main bulb. Then, peel off the papery thin skin that covers each bulb on your garlic. If you don’t peel off the outer layer, it could cause the bulb to rot because it will hold too much moisture.

How to Plant Garlic Cloves

Whether you buy garlic cloves from your local nursery or the grocery store, it will come in a large head that consists of many cloves. It’s necessary to separate them carefully to plant the cloves, ensuring that the papery skin stays intact.

Then, you can either soak them as we described above or plant them as they are in the ground.

How to Prepare the Soil for Garlic

When learning how to grow garlic, you can either plant it directly in the ground, in a pot, or in another type of container. If you plan to plant your garlic in a container, you should fill it with a combination of good quality potting soil and manure.

On the other hand, if you want to plant the garlic directly in the soil, pick a spot that gets full sun. Make sure the soil drains well. You can do this by using a hoe and working the soil at least four inches deep. Add compost to the soil to ensure the garlic will grow to its full potential.

How Deep to Plant Garlic

To grow in your garden, you should plant the garlic about 2 inches deep. Dig down the soil to about 4 inches, which will provide plenty of room for your garlic head to grow. For the best results, plant your garlic cloves four inches apart so they will have enough room to spread out while growing.

Your garlic clove will have a flat side, which is where the roots will form, and a pointy side. When putting the clove in the dirt, you should insert the flat side into the soil and the pointy side nearest the top of the soil. Once you put it in the soil, cover it up so that no part of the clove is showing.

How to Mulch Garlic

If you are planting garlic in the fall, you will want to wait for the green sprigs to come up and then surround them with mulch. After you have a hard freeze that kills the shoots, cover the entire container or bed with mulch. The mulch will ensure the cloves continue to gain strength and grow during the colder months. Once the soil warms up in the spring, you can remove the mulch.

How to Fertilize Garlic

To ensure that your garlic grows big and healthy, you can add some fish emulsion to the soil around it. Simply dilute it according to the instructions on the package and add it to the container or bed. One application should last through the season, but if the shoots turn yellow at any time, add some more.

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How to Prune Garlic

Garlic scapes tied together with rubber band

As the garlic begins to flourish in the spring, you will see garlic scapes begin to grow in abundance. While it may be tempting to let them grow, you shouldn’t. Left unchecked, the scapes will take the energy that the garlic bulb needs to grow big and healthy.

Here’s a hard lesson when learning how to grow garlic: You will have to cut off the scapes as you see them grow. Remember, garlic scapes are delicious and add a burst of flavor to soups, salads, and stir-fried vegetables. You can also dehydrate them and add them to your store of preserved goods.

How to Water Garlic

If you plant garlic in the spring, you should water it every three to five days or whenever the soil becomes dry. If you grow garlic in the winter, you will not need to water it once you cover the top of the bed or container with mulch. Once the spring arrives, you can begin watering it as needed.

How to Harvest Garlic

You will know your garlic is ready to harvest once the tops of the garlic plants turn yellow, fall over, and die. It will be in July or August. But if you wait too late to harvest your garlic, you run the risk of it shriveling up underground. And if you harvest it too early, it will be impossible to cure.

To remove it from the ground or a container, use a spade to loosen the dirt around the garlic head. Then, holding onto the stem, gently pull the garlic out of the ground. Brush away the dirt that sticks to the bulb.

How to Cure Garlic

You will need to cure the garlic before taking it indoors and eating it. That will allow it to store for a longer time, as the skin will dry out and the bulb will get firmer. To cure garlic, store it in a dry, cool place.

People store garlic in three ways. You can cut off the stem and cure the bulbs in a storage bin that provides good air circulation. You can also leave the stems attached if you grew softneck and braid the stems to form a group of bulbs. Hang them in a cool place that is dry with air circulation.

Finally, you can hang the bulbs upside down in a shaded area in the warmth, leaving the stems attached.

How to Store Garlic

The first thing you need to know about storing garlic is that you shouldn’t clean it before storing it. It will have more dirt on it than the garlic bulbs in the grocery store, but that’s okay. The dirt will ensure that it lasts longer in your food stores.

To keep garlic good, find a storage location that is between 55 and 70 degrees. The areas should have good air circulation and only moderate humidity. The area should be dark, and no sunlight should be present.

Do not store garlic in a refrigerator because it will cause it to sprout. Also, avoid putting the garlic in plastic bags because they will cause the garlic to rot.

Of course, if you want to preserve the garlic for years, you can dehydrate it or freeze-dry it.

Keep Some Garlic for the Next Planting Season

Finally, choose a few large and healthy bulbs and set them aside for next year’s planting. Simply set them aside in your storage area and mark them, so you will know where to find them once the planting season rolls around.

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How Do You Grow Garlic?

Most pantry preppers are pretty well versed in the staples needed to sustain life in case of an emergency. But adding flavorful and healthy plants like garlic will add some variety to your storage area and ensure that your food provides the essential nutrients that lead to health.

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

Last update on 2024-03-03 at 05:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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