How to grow garlic at home successfully

6 garlic heads on a white bench
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Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

How to grow garlic at home Introduction

Do you like eating healthy, organic and locally grown food that tastes amazing?

Do you like gardening and growing plants?

If the answers is yes then I think you are ready to start grow your own garlic?

Here are my top reasons for growing a large crop of garlic every year:

  • Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow and therefore a great option when growing food and being self sufficient.
  • Garlic is super healthy and makes food taste so much better.
  • It stores really well so there is no wastage.
  • Buying locally grown garlic is very expensive.

Because of the above reasons and more there is no better time than now to start growing garlic at home.

Growing garlic is easy, fun and rewarding!

I will explain in the next few minutes how to grow garlic at home successfully.

individual garlic cloves in a square bowl

Garlic grow guide

Follow my easy how to grow garlic at home growing guide from seed to harvest and have success with your homegrown garlic

In this article I will explain how to plant, harvest and store garlic so you can enjoy it for a long time after harvesting and also other useful information and tips that I have learnt along the way.

I love to grow my own garlic and I plant a big crop every year. I use a lot of it in my cooking, it taste great and it’s very good for you.

Adding garlic to your diet can help protect against illnesses, including the common cold. Eating a mixture of raw and cooked garlic is the best way to get the most health benefits out of this vegetable.

roasted garlic heads cut in half on an oven tray

Types of garlic to grow

There are two types of garlic to grow: soft neck garlic and hard neck garlic. There are more sub variants but that’s the main two to focus on to start.

If you like garlic scapes then a hard neck garlic variety is for you.

The soft neck varieties tend to store better and if you like to plait the garlic then soft neck is the better option.

I grow soft neck garlic. Mainly because that what I had on hand at the time when I started growing my own garlic and it has worked really well for me.

I was given a really good strain to plant when I first started and have been growing the same clone since. I simply plant extra then pick out the best and biggest cloves to plant again. Now I have a really good supply of excellent garlic.

My first experience growing garlic

I clearly remember when a friend gave me some homegrown garlic to plant in my own garden. I had never planted my own garlic before but I was keen to try it out. The garlic was so beautiful, so I knew I was off to a good start! Large stunning cloves!

I did some research on how to grow garlic at home and planted it in the middle of winter, around the shortest day. I was surprised how easy it was, how quickly the seedlings came up from the ground and how easy care the crop was. When it was finally time to harvest. I dug up the biggest best looking garlic I had ever seen. That was me hooked!! I had found my new favorite crop to grow!

I knew I wanted to grow a bigger crop next year, so I saved most of my harvested garlic for replanting, I have slowly built up my crop every year. Now I plant over 1000 heads and I never buy garlic from the shop to cook with or to plant and it’s all from my first crop that I slowly build up my seed (clove) supply with.

How to grow great garlic at home

Make sure you use good quality garlic cloves for planting to achieve best results. If you know someone who grows great garlic, ask them if you can buy some to plant. Otherwise look for them in farmers markets or gardening stores.

Often the supermarkets garlic has been treated and won’t regrow.

First you need to prep the garlic cloves for planting.

Simply remove the outer layer of skin from the head, then separate the cloves from the garlic head. Keep the skin on the individual cloves.

If they have started to sprout by now that’s fine. They are better to replant then to eat.

I pick out my best and biggest cloves to plant and keep the smaller ones for cooking with.

Planting big cloves results in harvesting bigger garlic heads

Then you need prep the garden bed or pots for planting

You can plant garlic either in garden beds, pots or grow bags.

Land Guard 6ft Metal Raised Garden Bed,2 Pcs Galvanized Planter Raised Beds Garden
FLEXIMOUNTS Vertical Raised Garden Bed, 4Ft Freestanding Elevated Garden Planters with 4 Drainage Container Boxes
VIVOSUN 5-Pack 20 Gallon Plant Grow Bags, Heavy Duty Thickened Nonwoven Fabric Pots with Handles

They like loose, light, PH neutral and well drained soil.

2 Hens digging in my garden bed. A wooden fence around the garden bed

First I need to get rid of all the weeds and turn the soil over. Basically I just dig up the top layer of the soil and flip it over. Then I feed the soil what I think it needs. It’s usually a mixture of manure and hydrated lime.

Take a soil PH test if you are unsure of the PH value.

Sun Joe TJ604E 16-Inch 13.5 AMP Electric Garden Tiller/Cultivator
Walensee Upgrade Twist Tiller Manual Hand Tiller Garden Claw Cultivator
Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit (3.5-9 Range) | 100 Soil pH Test Strips

When and how to plant garlic

When to plant garlic ?

Garlic needs cold temperatures in the beginning of planting so it’s best to plant in winter. A general rule is to plant on the shortest day of the year. It doesn’t have to be exact but around that time is a good time line

How to plant garlic at home in a garden bed ?

First I make rows in the garden bed, then I press holes in the rows with a pole around 5cm deep and 15cm apart from each other.

Then place one clove in each hole. Pointy end up.

Garden bed with rows and a black plastic container with garlic cloves ready to be planted.
Garlic cloves planted in holes in a garden bed and a wooden plank between the rows
Hard tooth rake smoothing the garden bed over.

I cover the holes back up. Then add a generous amount of mulch on top. Any organic mulch works. I use wheat straw myself. The garlic seem to do well under the straw and they don’t mind a thick layer.

The straw keeps the weeds out, adds nutrition and protects the plant against frost.

Making holes for the garlic cloves is easy with these handy tools.
Walensee Bulb Planter Lawn and Garden Tool
Gardtech Bulb Planter with Wooden Handle, Garden 4 inch Depth Transplanter Tool with Depth Mark for Digging
Jardineer Bulb Planter Tool – Long Handle Bulb Planter with Small Bulb Planter Set

Care for your crop

Garlic is a very easy care crop to grow.

  • Weeding: Garlic don’t like too much weed but the straw keeps the weeds out and I hardly need to weed at all.
  • Trim the scapes: If you grow hard neck garlic it’s best to trim the scapes when they form to encourage bigger heads of garlic. Garlic scapes are also very tasty to eat.
  • Water when needed.

Garlic is fun to grow because they germinate surprisingly fast so you see the progress quickly and they’re very low maintenance.

early stage of garlic bed
Garlic starting to grow in my winter garden
Garlic growing outside in a garden bed with a wooden fence around it

Crop rotation

It’s a good idea to rotate the garlic crop every 3-4 years. This will reduce pests and diseases as well as improve the overall health of the crop.

When do you harvest garlic?

The general rule is to harvest it 6 months after it was planted.

When 3-4 of the outer green stalk leaves has turned yellow. That’s a sign that the garlic is ready for harvest.

When this happens I dig a couple of heads up and look at them to see if they are ready.

6 Garlic heads just harvested

It should be a large head of garlic made up by 8-12 individual cloves with a skin around them. If the outer skin of the garlic head still have many layers and are quite thick still then you can leave the garlic in the ground a bit longer.

If they are left in the ground for too long then the skin around the cloves becomes thin and cracks. It’s better to dig them up before that happens as they wont store as well.

The garlic should be harvested when the soil it grows in is really dry to prevent them from going moldy when in storage.

Dig the garlic with a garden fork. Be careful not to spear the garlic heads. The garlic grow deep in the ground so put the fork down deep so you can lift the heads up from underneath.

Then we need to look after it so it lasts us until next year so we never have to buy garlic. 

a wheel barrow full of garlic just harvested

Cleaning and drying garlic after harvest.

Harvested garlic in a yellow crate to dry out

After the garlic has been harvested, we leave it to dry in crates for a few days to a week somewhere shady with airflow so the dirt on the outside is really dry and crumbles or falls off easily.

Then I brush the outside clean with a nail brush and cut the long, thin string like roots off so they are really short.

a round table full of harvested garlic. A person sitting down cleaning the garlic with a nailbrush then putting them in a basket on the ground

I hang them in bunches upside down from the green stalks for a couple of weeks until the green stalks are totally dried.

Set of 3 Reusable Hanging Vegetable Storage and Dispenser Bags
Reusable Produce 3 pack Onion Potato & Garlic Storage Bags Keeps Fresher Longer
Mud Pie Garlic Keepers (White)

Store and preserve garlic

Once the stalks have dried out I can cut them off to really short stumps and store the garlic in a cool, dark, breezy spot and use as needed. Or you can plait the garlic and hang them in big plaited bunches.

Many garlic heads in a red crate
garlic hanging and storing for winter

The garlic keeps really well for at least 6 months like this

.Food crates like these are good for longtime storage of garlic and other root vegetables. They stack on top of each other and allow for great airflow.

4-Pack Folding Storage Boxes Crate Collapsible Plastic Drawer Organizer
Hommp 4-Pack 15 L Plastic Collapsible Storage Crates, Stackable
Premium Home Wooden Crates
puree of garlic in a blender pouring in to a glass jar

Make some of your garlic into Puree and garlic butter and use as needed. That’s a great way to preserve the garlic.

Garlic puree can be frozen in zip lock bags, garlic butter is best made in to logs wrapped in plastic then freezes well.

Electric Garlic Mincer / Garlic Chopper, Turimon Rechargeable Mini Garlic Crusher
KitchenAid KFP0718CU Food Processor, 7 Cup, Contour Silver
Hamilton Beach Electric Vegetable Chopper & Mini Food Processor

Start growing yours now

You like eating healthy, locally grown, organic food. Growing it yourself is the best way to guarantee yourself that every day.

Garlic is a great crop to start with or ad to your vegetable garden because it’s so easy to grow, stores well, can improve your health and transform average meals into amazing dinners.

A basket full of garlic heads

Start small, grow bags or planting pots are fine, then grow from there. Once you start eating your own homegrown garlic you never want to buy the store bought alternative again.

Don’t hesitate any longer give this amazing vegetable a space in your garden. You can do it! and you will love it!

You might also like to read
Other helpful equipment when growing garlic at home

Premium Garlic Press, Garlic Mincer Set of 3 with Silicone Roller Peeler & Cleaning Brush
Deiss PRO Lemon Zester & Heavy Duty Cheese Grater & Vegetable Grater
Zulay Stainless Steel Garlic Press Rocker Set – Premium Garlic Mincer With Silicone Peeler & Scraper

Grapevine 11973LU MO Urban Garden Planters
Gorilla Carts 4GCG-NF 4 Cu. Ft. Poly Garden Dump Cart with No-Flat Tires
Gardening Tools, Carsolt 7 Piece Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Garden Tools Set with Ergonomic Rubber Handle

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Blogger, foodie, mum, gardener, qualified chef. I'm passionate about food, cooking and being food self sufficient. I hardly ever by fresh food. Instead I grow, gather, fish and hunt. The blog is about what I do on my lifestyle block and my recipes.

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  1. Sharyn M says:

    Great post. I’be been thinking for a while to grow some vegies and I think I will start with garlic.

    1. Thanks Sharyn and best of luck with your growing! I hope it works well for you!

  2. We use garlic so much but I never thought to grow my own, you make it sound so easy! I’ll definitely give it a go.

  3. I’ve been interested in this for some time now. I really feel like I want to try! Does it matter what growing zone you live in, regarding the timing of when to plant? There’s snow on the ground right now and it’s not yet the shortest day of the year……

    1. I have only grown garlic in a cold climate where we get frost and snow in winter and this guide is good for that. The garlic like a cold period to start. I often plant a month after the shortest day and it works fine. My friend who lives nearby often plant a month before the shortest day and it works well too. If it’s very cold and snowy make sure you put a good amount of mulch on top. If I lived in a warmer climate then I would definitely plant earlier before the shortest day to make sure they still get some colder period to start. Good luck! I hope it works well!

  4. Very useful article! I’ll grow garlic next year, now that I know it’s not so demanding.

    1. I’m happy you want to give it a try. I hope it works well for you!

  5. I’ve been wanting to grow garlic for some time. This was the inspo I needed. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Melissa says:

    Thanks, now I know where I went wrong before, and can try it again successfully.

  7. Andrea says:

    wow – thank you so much! This is so incredibly helpful. cant wait to start growing garlic!

  8. Anybany says:

    Wow! That’s really a good idea to have your own organic garlic. Thanks for sharing!

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