How to Grow Garlic at Home

January 29, 2021 By tsr admin


Tips on how to grow garlic at home.  If you are wondering how you can grow garlic at home, then you have come to the right place. 

Garlic is very easy to grow and it does not need much looking after.  Fall or Autumn is the most ideal time to grow garlic. 

One of the beauties about growing garlic is that you do not need many bulbs to start out.  Individual garlic cloves from one single bulb will produce full bulbs that can be dried and used throughout the year. 

If you have garlic bulbs in the fridge that you have not used, then continue reading for tips on how you can grow organic garlic in the Autumn and harvest them in the Summer. 

Garlic Varieties you can Grow

You can grow many garlic types at home.  Whilst some gardeners will say do not grow supermarket bought garlic at home, there are others that say you can grow them at home.

I have grown garlic bought from the shop in the past.  The only thing to note is that the garlic you buy from the supermarket may produce small bulbs. 

If you choose to buy garlic from a specialist, there are 2 main varieties of garlic to bear in mind.  These are known as softneck and hardneck garlic.

Hardneck vs. Softneck Garlic Variety

Most garlic varieties that you buy from the supermarket are softneck.  They tend to produce lots of cloves and are commonly grown in climates such as Spain.  The type of garlic that you have in the home is likely to belong to softneck variety. 

Whilst softneck garlic does better in warmer climates, you can still grow it in the UK.  However, unless the UK receives a continuously hot summer, the bulbs are likely to be smaller than when you grow it in places such as Spain. 

Examples of softneck garlic include provence wight garlic which produces a good sized white bulb and early purple wight garlic bulbs. 

Both varieties are similar to the elephant garlic but smaller in size.  They are available to buy on Amazon and many online specialist garden shops.

Hardneck garlic varieties tend to produce larger bulbs with less cloves.  These varieties are better suited to grow in cold climate and commonly grown in the UK. 

Lautrec wight garlic belongs to the hardneck garlic variety.  Although you will harvest large bulbs, the down side about hardneck garlic is that you have to wait a bit longer to harvest the large bulbs. 

When to Grow Garlic at Home

Garlic is one of the easiest crops you can grow at home.  Softneck garlic is best grown during the Autumn season.  You can start planting the bulbs anytime between October and early December.

 It is best to plant them before the first frost. The bulbs will be ready to pull out around mid to late Summer.

Hardneck garlic should be grown in the Winter, from December onwards.  This variety will also be ready in the late Summer.  However, if you want bigger bulbs, leave them in the ground until September. 

You do not need to worry about watering the garlic until the weather starts to warm up.  Garlic does not like to be water logged.  Therefore, water it when the soil is too dry.

How to Grow Garlic in the Garden

  1. Garlic likes sunny, well drained soil. Therefore, look for a sunny position in your garden.
  2. Separate the garlic bulb into the individual cloves when you are ready to plant them.  Do not peel the cloves.  Keep it all intact.
  3. Set out the individual cloves where you want to plant them.  Keep approximately 7 cm between each clove. 
  4. Dig the soil downwards about 5 to 7 cm deep.  The best time to dig soil, especially if you have a clay rich soil is when the soil is soft from rain.
  5. Place the individual cloves in each hole, cover, water and then leave it. Make sure the pointy side of the clove is facing upwards.

Tip:  If you have clay rich soil, then mix the planting area with organic compost or grow the garlic in pots using compost. 

That is all that needs doing for now.  It is a waiting game until Spring arrives.  By late March, you should see the garlic shoots sprout. 

Garlic shoots in March

If you grow hardneck garlic, the top of the shoot will start to produce a flowering head or scape.  Cut it out so that the energy can go to producing a good sized garlic bulb instead of the scape. 

By late Summer, the garlic will be ready to harvest.  Keep them in the ground longer if you want bigger bulbs and harvest them in September.

You can pull one garlic bulb out to use as you need it or remove all the bulbs at the same time.  If you remove all of the bulbs together, then follow the tips below on how to store the home grown garlic.

How to Store Homegrown Garlic

Garlic can be harvested any time after late June.  Of course, keep them in the ground longer for bigger garlic bulbs.  

  1. The easiest way to know that your home grown garlic is ready is to pay attention to the green shoots.  The shoots will start to dry out and turn yellowy brown.  Once the entire shoot has dried, you know the bulb is ready. 
  2. Harvest the garlic a couple of days after it rains.  The soil will be soft, therefore making it easy to pull out the garlic. 
  3. Use a small garden fork or even a kitchen fork to loosen the soil around the bulb.  Then gently pull it out, keeping the shoots intact.
  4. Brush as much of the soil away from the garlic and leave it to dry on a garden table.
  5. Depending on how warm the next few days are, the garlic should dry out within a couple of weeks.    
  6. You will know that your garlic is dry and ready to be stored when the skin of the garlic looks like paper – think about how shop bought garlic looks – it has a paper thin, crisp outer layer.
  7. When the garlic has fully dried out, gently rub the garlic to remove the rest of the soil. 
  8. Store the garlic in a cardboard box or kraft paper bag and use as needed.
  9. Use a couple of the garlic bulbs to grow your next lot of garlic.

The first time that I grew garlic, I pulled them out too soon.  As you can see from the picture below, the bulbs were too small.  I should have left them in the ground for another month. Although I harvested the garlic early, I was still ok to store and use it in everyday cooking.

Small bulbs as a result of harvesting garlic too soon

The Environmental Benefits of Growing Garlic at Home

  1. Growing your own garlic will lower your carbon footprint, by reducing food miles.  Most garlic in the UK arrives from Spain.  Growing your own garlic means no transport needed, therefore no energy was used to bring the garlic from Spain to the UK or from the supermarket to your home. 
  2. When you grow garlic at home you are using an organic and chemical free way of growing garlic.  This in turn reduces soil contamination, keeping the soil healthy and chemical free. 
  3. Finally, if you purchase good quality garlic bulbs to grow at home the first time, you can use the following year’s harvest to grow more garlic.  Therefore, you will only be investing in a good lot of garlic in the first year. 

Related article:  How to grow vegetables at home

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Can I grow garlic in the shade?

Garlic loves sunny spots, especially in colder climates.  If you do not have direct sunlight, try to grow it where the garlic can receive at least 5 – 6 hours of sunlight.  The bulbs might be smaller than you expected if grown in shady areas.

How can I grow garlic at home?

Separate a garlic bulb into its individual cloves.  Find a spot in your garden that is sunny and has well drained soil.  Dig holes approximately 5 – 7 cm deep and place the cloves in.  Cover, water well and leave them for 6 – 8 months.

When should I grow garlic?

In the UK, garlic should be grown during Autumn or Winter. Softneck garlic variety should be grown between October and December. Hardneck garlic can be grown from December onwards. The garlic bulbs will be ready for harvesting in the Summer.