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,

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

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.

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”)


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

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 ]