Richters InfoSheet D2780  

Garlic Planting Instructions

Garlic enthusiasts will attest that growing your own garlic is much better than anything you can buy at the store. Garlic is very hardy and easy to grow, even a small corner in your garden can grow good garlic.

The two major types are softneck and hardneck garlic. These are distinguished by the hard stem that persists in the bulbs of the hardneck varieties, which is absent or writhered in the softneck varieties. Elephant garlic is a third type that is similar to the softneck varieties, except for much larger bulbs and cloves. All varieties are planted in the same manner described below.

Soil and Sun Requirements

Garlic requires rich, loamy soil and plenty of moisture and sun. In sandy soils garlic may not attain an acceptable size. Dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost to enrich the soil and boost organic content. It may be necessary to prepare raised beds of specially-prepared soil.

Separating Cloves

If not planted immediately, keep bulbs in fridge (not the freezer). Garlic bulbs need to be separated into individual cloves before planting. Each bulb yields between 8 and 20 cloves depending on the variety of garlic. Small cloves less than 5mm (1/4") thick should be discarded. Each clove will grow into a new bulb, but the larger the clove is the larger the bulb will be at harvest time.

Planting and Watering

Plant cloves 15cm (6") apart and 5cm (2") deep (plant elephant garlic 20cm/8" apart). The smaller end of the cloves should be pointed upward, and the tops of the cloves should be 5cm below the soil surface. Water thoroughly after planting and keep moist until plants are established. Thereafter, water during dry spells.

Spring Planting

Cloves should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. The earlier the better, as they need a long growing season. Freezing will not harm them as they are very hardy. Mulching with dead leaves or straw will help keep weeds down and prevent soil from drying out.

Fall Planting

Fall is really the best time to plant, giving garlic a head start on the next growing season. Garlic is very hardy and will survive winter in most areas of southern Canada. Winter mulching with dead leaves or straw is needed to prevent frost heaving which can lift the cloves right out of the ground.

Harvest and Storage

When leaves turn yellow in autumn, bulbs are ready for harvest. In the Canadian climate, garlic needs to be spurred to ripeness by bending stalks to the ground in late summer. When the crop is ready for harvest, dig and expose to the sun to dry for several days. Store your harvest in a dry and well-ventilated place. Braiding garlic together and hanging in the pantry is a picturesque and practical way to keep garlic.


We welcome your feedback on your experiences with growing garlic. The information you provide will help us refine our recommendations to other herb enthusiasts. Please email your comments to Infosheet Feedback.


Richters Herbs
D2780   ©2003 Otto Richter and Sons Limited


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