Quickly learn how to grow your own garlic for a rewarding harvest come next summer! In this post I'll share with you how to grow your own garlic, from planting your cloves to harvesting your first bulbs!
HOW TO GROW GARLIC
When you think of garlic, you often think of seasoning your food or keeping vampires away. Other than having a bad case of garlic breath, there are many reasons why garlic is such a glorious food to grow!
In fact, garlic is one of our favourite crops on the homestead. You'll soon find that it's a very easy crop to plant and care for. Garlic is also a very rewarding harvest.
There are endless opportunities for cooking and preserving garlic. It's also a very profitable crop for homesteaders looking to make extra money from their gardens.
Once you discover the current condition of the garlic commercial market, you'll be even more motivated to learn how to supply your family with enough garlic for the year with just one harvest.
Year after year, be prepared for larger and larger crops of garlic as your cloves become bulbs and your bulbs become cloves! This truly is an addicting gardening venture!
Along with how easy it is to grow, and the rewards there are also numerous health benefits from garlic. You probably didn't know that garlic is in fact high in protein, vitamin C and calcium!
Ready to learn how to grow garlic from clove to bulb? Let's get on with it! In this post I'm going to show you just how easy it is to plant garlic as a beginner
STEP ONE: CHOOSING THE TYPE OF GARLIC
There are several types of organic heirloom garlic varieties. Each variety has its own characteristics, traits, tastes and does well in different soils and climates. These are all some of the important things to note as you start to research the variety of garlic you'd like to plant.
There are hardback and softneck varieties. I highly recommend you chat with local gardeners is your area to discover what varieties do well in your area.
We plant the "music" variety and are happy with the results here on the west coast of Canada. Below I share with you some varieties worth considering.
Hardneck varieties do well in areas where there are harsher, severe winters.
Softeneck garlic is easier to grow in milder climates. These varieties produce more numerous cloves per bulb heads and store well.
STEP TWO: HOW TO PLANT GARLIC
FOR FALL PLANTING
Garlic is planted in the fall just before the first frost date. For west coast gardeners, that means garlic is in the ground before Halloween, and often planted the end of September to mid October.
Once you've harvesting all of your summer crops, you'll know it's time to plant your garlic along with the rest of your fall cold hardy crops.
Garlic is best planted in a no till garden bed and put to rest with a good mulch for the winter. I highly suggest this method for planting directly in the ground or better yet planting garlic in raised beds.
Garlic is a super fun crop to plant, as you simply ( gently) plant each clove from a bulb of garlic for a harvest of bulbs not larger cloves. It's also a great crop for beginner gardeners as it's quite easy to do.
I always suggest you read the spacing and depth for each clove of garlic that is recommended by the garlic producer. The standard is setting separate cloves 4-6 inches apart with the tip of the clove 1-2 inches deep.
It's important to not remove the skin from the cloves, and to note that the larger the cloves the larger the final bulbs will be.
FOR EARLY SPRING PLANTING
Garlic can be planted in the spring, during a short winter in March but it's often best to overwinter garlic for the best harvest.
STEP THREE: COMPANION PLANTING WITH GARLIC
Companion planting is always good practice in any garden. For garlic in particular this bulb has plants it thrives with and plants that it either inhibits the growth of or stunts its own.
Garlic is a great companion plant to other crops such as onions, beets, spinach, lettuce, potatoes and parsnips. It should not be planted next to peas, beans, cabbage and strawberries.
STEP FOUR: HOW TO CARE FOR GARLIC
Garlic plants are relativity easy to care for. Once planted in rich well drained soil its important that it's mulched with either wood chips, straw or leaves. There are so many fallen leaves around the time of planting, I always tend to go with leaves.
In the spring, when early growth begins in the garden, it's important to keep the garlic weeded and watered as needed.
Garlic is part of the onion family and will also grow a flower. Cut the flower and the scape ( the stem of the flower) down to keep the energy in the bulb. Garlic scapes are an amazing food source as well! Go ahead and fry them up and they taste just like garlic fried fresh beans. I like to make savoury pancakes with mine.
STEP FIVE: HARVESTING GARLIC
You'll know when garlic is ready to be harvested when the tops begin to dry. I recommend to stop watering the garlic a few weeks before harvest. When 3 or so leaves begin to turn yellow, it's a good sign your garlic is ready to hang to dry.
The easiest way to harvest your garlic from the ground is to use a large fork to gently lift the bulbs from the soil. Pull them bulbs from the soil, not from the stalks. I suggest tying 3-6 bulbs of garlic together and handing to dry in a cool, dry place with good airflow.
STEP SIX: STORING GARLIC
Garlic will hang using baling twine or zip ties in the woodshed to dry and cure before removing the stalks and storing for the winter. Set the largest bulbs with no damage aside as seed garlic to sell or for planting next year.
Store the smaller bulbs by peeling the outer skins and putting in a brown paper bag and leaving in a cool, dry environment. Any moisture or heat will encourage early sprouting.
STEP SEVEN: PRESERVING GARLIC
There are many options for preserving garlic. The first is to store it throughout the winter and use as you would fresh garlic from the store.
Garlic can also be peeled and frozen in small ice cube trays to be easily thrown into cooking soups, stews, stir fry and more.
I personally love garlic red pepper jelly and pickled garlic preserves! Or you can make your own roasted garlic powder instead!