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How to Care for Garlic

By Willow Sidhe ; Updated September 21, 2017
Garlic is planted in fall and harvested in summer.

Garlic is a flowering herb commonly grown for it's edible bulb, which is divided into smaller sections called cloves. Garlic cloves can be consumed or used as seed to propagate more garlic. It must be planted during the fall, as the cloves must be chilled for several weeks before they will germinate and grow in spring. Garlic requires little care to grow, and will produce large, flavorful bulbs the summer following planting.

Choose a planting location that receives between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Prepare soil in the fall, just before the first frost of the season. Spread a 1-inch layer of organic compost over the planting site and use a garden tiller to incorporate it into the soil.

Dig a trench in the soil about 4 inches deep and insert each garlic clove with the pointy side facing up. Leave between 4 and 6 inches of space between each garlic clove. Cover with soil and water lightly to settle the soil.

Spread a 1-inch layer of mulch over the site immediately after planting. This will help conserve moisture and prevent the soil from continually freezing and thawing during the winter. Refresh the mulch as necessary until the garlic has fully matured.

Water garlic plants once per week beginning in early spring after growth has begun, but only on weeks with no natural rainfall. Do not allow the soil to become soggy, or the garlic cloves will rot.

Harvest garlic in summer, when the foliage begins to dry and turn yellow. Use a trowel to carefully remove the soil from around the clove and then gently lift out of the ground. Allow the garlic to dry completely before removing the top, or a loss of flavor can occur.


Things You Will Need

  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Mulch
  • Trowel


  • Mulch garlic with hay or straw, which is not heavy enough to prevent the plant from emerging in the spring. Avoid dense bark mulches.


  • Do not pull garlic from the soil by the top when harvesting. The foliage can tear off, and the bulb will not be as flavorful.

About the Author


Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.