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How to Plant Garlic

By Robin Coe ; Updated September 21, 2017

Garlic requires some patience between planting and harvesting. Garlic plants can provide a large crop from a small amount of space. The wide range of use you can get from a harvest makes them a nice addition to your garden. Garlic can be used in many recipes, and it can be preserved through pickling or add flavor to your other pickled vegetables. You can begin planting your own garlic with a bulb or two, which will provide a small crop in your garden space.

Choose an area in your garden to grow your garlic in mid-summer. Garlic will grow in most soil conditions but prefers a soil with good drainage.

Grow clover or alfalfa in the space where you want your garlic by broadcast planting the seeds and covering them with a thin layer of soil in the middle of summer.

Use your shovel to till the clover or alfalfa under the soil once the plants are at least 2 inches high. This will add extra nitrogen to the soil to support your garlic plants.

Crack your garlic into separate bulbs in mid-fall. Choose the large cloves to grow in your garden. These will grow the best.

Plant each clove by pointing the top up at a depth of two inches under the soil. The top of a clove of garlic is typically pointed, and the bottom is flattened.

Space each clove you plant about 8 inches apart. This will ensure that you get larger bulb to grow in your space. You can plant them closer together if you want to plant more garlic, but your bulbs will be smaller.

Spread a layer of mulch over your garden space. This will protect your garlic cloves from extreme hot and cold temperatures, and help to retain moisture.

Water your plant immediately to moisten the soil. Add just enough water to moisten the soil each day. Stop watering your garlic before winter.

Fertilize your garlic in the spring with 10-10-10 fertilizer. Repeat fertilization in mid-may.

Weed around your garlic periodically so that your plants stay free of weeds. Increase watering in the spring so that your plants get 2 feet of water every 10 days.

Cut the tops down in early summer if you want to increase the size of your garlic bulbs growth.

Stop watering your garlic about two weeks before the end of June. Begin to inspect your garlic to see if it is ready for harvest at the end of June. Remove a garlic head by gently digging around the bulb. Make sure the cloves are plump and the skin is papery and thick, or wait till the lower half of leaves brown.


Things You Will Need

  • Clover or alfalfa seeds
  • Shovel
  • Garlic bulb
  • Mulch
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer

About the Author


Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.