Grow Your Own Garlic – Just Plant The Cloves – Here’s how-to do it

Garlic Goodness! I have recently harvested my garlic. First time growing garlic. It was an experiment in one part of a raised garden bed. Best of all, it was a success. And Mrs. J and I love garlic!

Here’s how I did it, and why I grew my own garlic.

First of all, about a year ago, Mrs. J and I each started consuming a good size clove of garlic every day (crushed and finely chopped). We discovered it tastes great along with avocado (which we have every day too – excellent source of potassium). So, why do we have garlic every day?

Garlic (and avocado) are very good for you. Since we like the flavor of each, it was a perfect fit to introduce into our daily consumption.

Health Benefits of Garlic

A few statements from healthline.com,

Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.

Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed. (Ken adds: which is why I eat it that way, and soon after cutting it)

Garlic supplements are known to boost the function of the immune system.

One large, 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo (1).

Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (2), (3), (4).

For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements appear to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10–15% (5), (6), (7).

Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage (8).

11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic

A common way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix it with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt.

In addition to doing it the old-fashioned way (on a cutting board, squash the garlic with flat part of knife, then slice-n-dice), I also use a garlic press.

OXO garlic press
(amzn)

How-to Grow Your Own Garlic

Okay, lets get down to it. Growing garlic is ridiculously easy. You just have to remember to plant it during the Fall season before winter. Before the ground freezes (if you live in such a zone). I ‘almost’ missed it last year.

Although late, I planted (if memory serves) around the first week of November. This year I’ll plant in early October for my zone.

Garlic Cloves For Planting

First, I used ordinary grocery store domestic garlic to plant. Did you know that most of our garlic comes from China? I’ll bet you thought it was California… Side Note… I’ve been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, and boy oh boy was that garlic good!

So, I wanted USA garlic. Just because.

How to tell the difference between domestic USA garlic and Chinese garlic?

Difference between Chinese garlic and American garlic
Chinese Garlic on the left, Domestic USA Garlic on the right

Garlic bulbs with roots scooped off the bottom (leaving a clean concave) are Chinese. The scooping lowers the weight and thus the shipping costs, but it also removes contaminated soil – something that is required by U.S. law.

Domestic bulbs, on the other hand, come with roots attached – sometimes. While American growers are free to leave the roots on the bulbs, if a grower believes that rootless bulbs are prettier and more desirable to shoppers, then he can remove them, making his domestic garlic look just like Chinese garlic.

SouthernLiving.com

UPDATE: I found some Heirloom, Non-GMO California Garlic online for planting and growing your own garlic! I will be getting this for next season! (from “Country Creek Acres”)

FRESH CALIFORNIA SOFTNECK BULBS
(amzn)

Garlic is grown from individual cloves. Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb – which in turn contain up to twenty cloves.

Growing garlic is therefore self-sustaining.

When planting garlic, choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp.

The cloves should be planted individually, upright and about an inch under the surface. Plant the cloves about 4 inches apart. Rows should be about 18 inches apart.

As garlic reaches maturity, the leaves will brown then die away. This is the cue that it’s time to harvest your garlic crop.

If you harvest too early the cloves will be very small. Too late and the bulb will have split.

It’s essentail that garlic is dried properly. Otherwise it will rot. The bulbs are often hung up in a cool, dry place. After a week or so, take them down and brush the dirt off gently – don’t wash the bulbs at this stage.

~ Country Creek Acres

IMPORTANT NOTE!
Garlic is Poisonous to Dogs and Cats! Keep your furry friends away from your fresh cloves, it is very toxic to them.

Plant Cloves 4 to 6 Inches Deep for Cold Climates

Start with a garlic bulb. Separate the individual cloves. I chose the larger cloves to plant.

Plant the garlic, pointy side UP.

Tip: I used a short section of 1/2 inch pipe to neatly press the holes into the dirt, about 4 to 6 inches deep. I went down 6 inches, given my very cold zone. Then, simply drop in the garlic clove and then kind of press the dirt to fill the hole.

Garlic Planting Chart – When To Plant

source: greyduckgarlic

Here’s my garlic planting tool (grin), a piece of half-inch EMT conduit.

I only planted about 3 dozen garlic cloves. Then covered the bed with some landscape cloth held down on the edges with a few fencing T-posts laying around. Though most people cover the ground with straw or hay. I was late and in a rush. But in the end there was no issue.

Plant Garlic Over The Winter

Then it snowed. And snowed some more. Ground frozen solid as steel. Ever so seemingly slow, the cold winter months drag on as we turn the calendar pages month by month. For a time, I forgot about those poor little shivering garlic cloves locked in the frozen ground of their little holes. Poor little things…

Even Sampson, our mini-Dacshund was worried, wondering where that garlic garden bed might be under all that snow…

Mini Dachshund in deep snow

However, afterwards, many months later in the Spring after the snow finally melted, lo and behold there were garlic poking their green shoots to the warming sun! They’re alive!

Eventually they grew several feet tall. And even developed some sort of seed pod on the end of their stems. Interesting.

The Garlic Harvest

So, when do you harvest garlic? How do you know?

Well, they say when they look like they’re starting to die off. Some say when about 2/3 the leaves are browning.

I just pulled the last of mine the other day. So, that’s the end of July for me. I might have gone a little longer, but was concerned (and anxious to have a look). The concern was all the copious rain we had during July. Not sure if they were in danger of rot, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

They looked good!

I used a garden hand trowel to help them out of the ground. Don’t scrub off the remaining dirt. Just leave it. I put them in a bucket and placed in the shop building where it’s cool. Let them simply dry out as is.

[ Read: My Daily Vitamins ]

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34 Comments

  1. I grow Elephant Garlic and have for several years. This year I’m attempting to go commercial. In late May I harvested about 600 lbs off of ~ 1/4 acre patch and hung it on racks in my shop/garage to dry.

    My youngest DiL has been working on a website and should go up this week or next so I’m am trying to market nationwide.

    My opinion, based on my experience, is that planting the cloves 4 – 6 inches deep is excessive.
    I am in Hardiness Zone 8a in NE GA. Cloves are planted root side down and pointy end up.

    I find that mine grow great with the pointy end about about an inch under the soil. ‘Great’ for me means that my yield is consistently in the 80-85% range.

    <bb

    1. Another thing I have found is that growing garlic in raised hill rows works better, especially in clay mixed soils, because it allows better drainage to help you fight moisture-based mold problems and allows easier manual harvesting using a spade fork or broad fork.

      The planting depth recommendation in your article might vary with your climate. Maybe up North, the garlic might over Winter better if it is planted deeper.

      <bb

    2. I went deep because I had read that my (((cold)) zone up here it’s best to do that. Maybe next time I’ll try both ways.

      That’s great about your garlic business. I hope it’s wildly successful.

      1. Ken, those little bulbs at the ends are scapes. You might want to cut them off when they start to develope, this will help the garlic bulb grow as the plant energy won’t be divered to the scape. You can find many usefull things to do with the scape as well. They are just little garlics after all. You can even chop up the scape stem and use it to flavor stuff. I have used it in a pinch when making steak in my cast iron pan. My wife is the garlic grower, I am usually the cooker, she grows, harvests, and sells many many pounds of it around our neck of the woods. Most years its al sold before its even done curing and packaged!

    3. Here in Chicago I planted two small patches (3×3’) in October. I might have waited longer, but harvested them all a few weeks ago. Maybe thirty bunches. Been cooking with it a lot. Starting a new crop now.

  2. We have a batch of freshly dug garlic in the dehydrator now. We’ve been making our own garlic powder for several years – partly due to a lot of big brands coming from China and partly because it’s just better! We usually save the biggest cloves from each head to plant for next year.

      1. We just smash and peel small cloves (way easier than peeling it and then trying to slice it!) and put them into the dehydrator. Set on 110 degrees and let it go for at least a day. Then we just run it through a small food processor or a blender in small batches to pulverize it. Easy! Sometimes it can stink up the place, so we usually run it in the basement or garage.

      2. You may also want to try to peel them, run them through a food processor with some olive oil until it “looks good” and put it in a jar and toss in the freezer. This is an excellent way to save excess garlic over the winter and super easy to just keep in the refrigerator. This is just like the proccessed garlic you find at the store, only way better of course.

  3. Thus is a great article. Thanks Ken. Just a quick question. How do I keep my ,” ever so eager to help,” hubby from digging them up cause they look like grass weeds and he is Helping me!!
    2nd year in a row he has killed the garlic.
    Good thing I love that man so much!!
    Lol
    Thanks for the info. Will try again in the fall.
    Peace
    MadFab
    PS. Wonderful news bb. Hope it is very successful for ya.
    MadFab

    1. MadFab Labels, a aluminum soda can can be cut with scissors. A dead ball point pen can “Write” on it GARLIC

      Fold it in half for strength and put at each row of garlic. Reminds ME from weeding them :-)

      1. NH Michael,
        Thus assumes he will notice them. Lol
        My brother said to put up construction tape, but it would look like a crime scene around here with all the yellow do not cross tape.
        Peace
        MadFab

  4. Consider braiding the leaves/plants together and hanging in dark cool place. Amazon sells some good FD garlic. That is one thing not to put in the FD.

  5. I transplanted some “wild” garlic 30 plus years ago. It’s prolific. We use it and still it grows far far more than we use. The cloves are smaller than grocery store, but just use two instead of one. Believe it or not, we dig it year round. Whenever the wife needs garlic, I go dig some. From just a small patch of garlic, it’s grown to nearly surround the garden. Apparently it keeps well, right where it grows.

    I canned spaghetti sauce over the weekend. Actually, the wife did most of it. A double batch and it smells wonderful. Many jars on the counter-top. I’m claiming I did it ALL. Question for the ladies: Why is it, women MUST leave the freshly canned jars on the counter-top? They’ll likely remain there for a couple of weeks. (on display?)

    1. Plainsmedic,
      For the first 24 hours I don’t like to move mine, until they cool down. After that it is for sure display!! It looks so pretty and I want everyone to know I Did this!!. I can feed my family with what I have done. And bragging rites in the family that I got mine done first. Lol
      Still NEVER beat my Mama.
      I swear she starts at midnight to get it done before me. Lol
      Not telling her when I am going to do it this year! She will still k no ow and beat me.
      Lol
      Peace,
      MadFab

    2. Better to see that a lid has “popped” while it’s on the counter, rather than stored away in the pantry. And also, because they are so dang beautiful! Women are ridiculously smart! Beach’n

  6. I love to plant garlic….
    It’s about the most sustainable produce a black thumb can plant…..that and cucumbers and yellow squash, zucchini.
    I always have random garlic shoots come up every spring, as I might have missed or dropped a clove or five. Roto till around them, stake them, harvest.

  7. Here is a tip my friend taught me years ago.
    If ya have a lot of garlic to peel( pounds).
    Remove all cloves from bulb and blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Skin slips right off after cold water shock.
    Peace,
    MadFab

    1. MadFab
      Good to know.
      Someday I’ll make NRP’s pickled garlic knowing your garlic peeling tip.
      Thanks!

  8. Those “seed-pod” looking things are garlic scapes – cut them off (helps the garlic finish growing better), toss them in the ‘fridge and dice them in eggs or soup or anything else that might like a mellow garlic flavor.

    They are the 2nd-best thing about growing garlic. And be sure to save the four or five largest bulbs to plant this fall.

  9. Those buds/flowers are called Scapes, you cut them off and can be sautéed or pureed–but we were told by an Amish gardener that you should cut them off so the plant sends the nutrients to the bulb to make the cloves larger before you harvest. Let the scapes grow to at least 6-8″ or so tall, then simply cut them off at the bottom by the leaves. We do this every year.

    1. Scapes are the seeds of the Garlic plant. Those “wild” Garlic reseed them selves when that scape falls over .

      I have not noticed any real reduction of Garlic bulb size if I cut them off or not. Garlic loves well fertilized and well drained soil.

      Only disease seems to be a black fungus that is soil based. Only cure is to start with CLEAN Garlic seeds or cloves in a NEW Garlic patch. Two years before that fungus dies off in the old soil.

      If you want to eat scales they’re wonderful. If you want to get Garlic seeds let them go until the seeds are getting loose. The few you lose just becomes Garlic chives next year and full sized Garlic in the 2nd year.

      Garlic is an excellent companion plant well done worth researching. Scapes blended in a yard sale blender is with soapy water a good bug and rabbit repellent.

  10. In our climate its hard to get it to dry properly, never fails that you pull it and it rains the next day, seems a lot of stuff needs to be dried down under shelter

  11. Got high Cholesterol?
    Take a bunch of Garlic and soak it in Honey for a few months.
    Eat 3-5 cloves (depending of size of cloves) in the morning on an empty stomach.
    An old Asian cure, and yes it works, go ahead, ask me how I know…
    I cheat and buy bulk pre-peeled Garlic from Sam’s Club (basically i’m to lazt to peel 3 pounds of Garlic), 3 pounds for around $9-ish.
    The 3 pounds will just fill a 1/2 gallon Canning Jar, fill with decent honey set it on the counter for a few weeks, than drop it into the Fridge. it will keep for a VARY VERY long time.
    I fill a small seal-able container and set it on the counter, eat a few when fixing breakfast.

    1. Don’t forget that Honey-Garlic (when using raw honey) is a fermented product. It will produce gas for the first several weeks. It would be best to have a relief valve type cover on top or unscrew the top every few days…

      <bb

      1. BB,
        Is that for the garlic on the counter top or for NRP?
        Not sure ol Blue can unscrew his top every few days !
        Lol
        Peace,
        MadFab

        1. MadFab:

          General comment about fermented foods of which garlic-honey is one…

          I have seen these polymer (rubber ?) jar covers that have and extension in the middle that remains closed (like those old fashioned, noise makers) When the pressure builds up enough, it is relieved through the extension. I’m going to search the web to see if I can find some for my own projects…

          <bb

          1. bb_in_GA,
            please let us know about the jar covers if you find something. i would be interested also
            ,thanks

          2. China mart has something like I have seen before on their website. It is a ship only item, not in the store, or available for pickup for about $1.75 each after tax is added…

            Amazon has a bunch of more sophisticated air lock fermenting devices @ mo’ $…

            Silicone Fermenting Lids 5-Pack BPA Free Waterless Airlock Mold Free Auto Vent

            Average Rating:
            4.4 out of 5 stars, based on 8 reviews
            Bonison
            $7.99

            <bb

  12. I peel and mince in my food processor. I make logs of garlic in snack baggies and freeze. When needed, just slice some off to use. I also make fermented honey garlic. recipe from Brad Leone of It’s Alive on Bon Appetit channel.

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