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(Experiment 172) How to grow garlic

 Growing garlic is actually pretty easy. It does require some planning as garlic is planted at the end of September or early October. I like to have them done 3 weeks before the first frost.

First, where do you get your “seeds”? To grow garlic you can either use :

bulbils will take 2-3 years to form an actual bulb so it’s a long process

cloves ( you can use the one in the supermarket but I would NOT recommend you do so for many reasons, the best option is to buy them online from a garlic grower they usually have many varieties you can choose from, if not go to a farmers market and get some fresh one ). Each clove will give you a 2-12 cloves bulb ( the amount will vary with variety, temperature, watering, etc )

If you already have a garden, plant the cloves following these.

  • 2-3″ deep
  • 5-6″ distance between each
  • if you have multiple rows. keep a distance of 20″

I like to amend the soil with 2 bags of shrimp compost 1 week before getting started. Use your thumb to dig a small hole, put the clove in the hole and cover it with soil. Until the first freeze, lightly water the soil every couple of days. You may see some sprouts coming out, that’s perfectly fine.

Tip: Do not peel the clove. Use the biggest one and plant them with the “spike” pointing toward the sky.

I’m told you can do this in pots. I have never tried this but I don’t see it wouldn’t. The pot would need to be 10-12″ deep I would say to give room for the roots to grow.


After winter, in April/May you should see the garlic stem coming out. Don’t overwater garlic! Once a week, but do a “deep” one. From May, I recommend spraying BTK every second week on the garlic to prevent the leak moths from eating all the leaves. Note that the worms eat the leaf from the inside so when you see them, the damage is done. Garlic doesn’t require much fertilization. I fertilize all my veggies with this product 2-3 times per season.

Around late June you will see the garlic scapes. It is recommended to cut them off once they have looped twice ( see picture). This should maximize the plant’s effort to make a bigger bulb instead of making a flower.

4 to 5 weeks after you have chopped the scapes, you should notice that the leaves are drying up. Once there are only 5 green leaves left on the plant, it should be ready to pull. It is a bit tricky here as obviously you want the bulb to be as big as possible but if you wait too long, it is at risk of rotting. Stop watering the garlic 1 week before you plan to pull them out.

Once pulled from the ground, remove 1 layer of skin, cut the root, and chop the leaves leaving ~12″ of the stem. I let them dry in the garage for 10-14 days.

From my own experience, leaving the stem result in better preservation of the garlic.

Note that not all varieties of garlic will last the same amount of time. Some are good for 4 months while others can last 12.

Finally, the best way to keep garlic is somewhere on your countertop, not in direct sunlight. Please don’t keep them in a dark place as they will start their germination process.

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