​GARLIC PLANTING GUIDE - Organic Heirloom Gardens

​GARLIC PLANTING GUIDE - Organic Heirloom Gardens

Posted by Organic Heirloom Gardens on Sep 22nd 2018

  • Fall planting is recommended for most areas. Garlic roots develop in the fall and winter, and by early spring they can support the rapid leaf growth that is necessary to form large bulbs. Southern areas can also plant in the early spring.
  • Garlic likes well drained soil with plenty of compost mixed in. Full sun is needed for the biggest bulbs to develop.
  • In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected fall frost date, before the ground freezes. The timing may vary with local climate; the aim is to give a long enough period before the ground freezes for the plant to develop good roots, but not enough time to for it to form top growth before freezing temperatures set in. In northern climates, planting is usually between September and November. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant.
  • An addition of lime or other organic fertilizers mixed into the soil at time of planting can be beneficial.
  • Keep papery shells on cloves, break apart bulbs a few days prior to planting. Choose largest cloves for planting.
  • Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. Most are treated for longer shelf life and can contain disease as well.
  • Place cloves 3 to 6 inches apart and 1.5 inches deep, in their upright position. Root side down, pointed side up.
  • Rows spaced 5 to 10 inches apart. 2-6 rows in group, then space row groups 18-24 inches so you have room to walk down and weed.


  • Use mulch and straw for overwintering in cold areas.
  • Remove mulch in spring when new growth appears.
  • Cut off any flower shoots that emerge in spring. These may decrease bulb size.
  • Fertilize garlic in the early spring. Compost and other natural fertilizers.
  • Fertilize again in May.
  • Weed thoroughly.
  • Keep Nitrogen levels high.
  • Water every 3 to 5 days late in season, starting in May. Slow watering as harvest approaches.


Garlic is known to keep pests away. It has very few diseases that will affect it.

  • White Rot is a fungus that attacks garlic, onions, and other plants in the same family. It happens in the cool months mostly. Rotate your garlic planting areas if this disease appears. It can live in the soil for several years. Till the soil up for sunlight exposure to help kill it.


  • Harvest is usually July-August. The sign to look for is yellowing and browning tops.
  • Take one or two bulbs out of the soil as a sample.
  • Dig plants with fork, do not pull unless your soil is VERY loose.
  • Leave yellow/brown top on the bulbs for drying. Put on rack or hang in bundles tied together. Low humidity, high air flow.
  • Once the bulbs dry you can cut off the remaining tops and roots. This will prepare them for storage or sale.
  • Store bulbs in cool, dry place. No basements, no refrigerators. 38-42 degrees is optimal but even higher temps will work.
  • Bulbs can be stored for 1 year and even longer in some cases with ideal conditions.