Your Garlic Has Arrived! Now What?
Always inspect the garlic first thing. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please contact us right away. Store your garlic in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to plant. Avoid storing in plastic or the refrigerator – a garage, basement, or cool corner of the house will be fine.
When to Plant Garlic
Garlic has to go through a period of cold in order to fracture & develop large bulbs. So typically it’s planted in the fall, overwinters, and then you harvest the following summer. In total, it’s takes about nine months to grow a full head of garlic.
In the PNW (Zone 8), we typically plant sometime in October or November. In warmer climates, you can plant all the way into December. In colder climates, you may need to plant earlier. And technically, garlic can even be planted in spring – though the heads will be very small and there may not be individual cloves.
Garlic Soil Requirements
Garlic loves nutrient-rich soil and also prefer a little extra nitrogen. So incorporate a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer or blood meal into the ground with your initial planting. Starting in spring, add a fertilizer top dressing or do a foliar spray every few months, up until June.
Choose a full-sun location with loamy soil, though garlic is very hardy & tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions.
Planting Your Garlic
Break up the garlic heads into individual cloves, keeping the clove wrappers intact (as best you can). Technically you can plant every single clove, though some folks only plant the largest ones and keep smaller cloves for eating. This may yield larger heads, but who doesn’t love a little extra garlic?
Garlic is planted 2” deep (measuring from the top of the clove) and 6” apart, in rows spaced 8-12”.
Plant with the pointy end pointing up and the blunt end pointing down, just like it came off the head of garlic.
Mulch is super important. In areas with harsh winters, you can mulch up to 6” thick. In the PNW, we typically mulch 1-2” with something like straw. This helps retain moisture, protect the roots over the winter, & minimize weeds. Garlic hates competition with weeds, so better if they never take hold.
Water your garlic after planting. If you get fall rains, you won’t need to water again until spring. Once spring arrives, start watering deeply – 1 inch per week – and keep watering regularly up until 1 to 2 weeks before harvest.
What are Garlic Scapes?
Hardneck varieties of garlic produce something called a ‘garlic scape’. It’s essentially a flower stalk, but it’s SO delicious & totally worth giving a try!
|Varieties that WILL give you scapes||Varieties that WON’T give you scapes|
|Porcelain, Purple Stripes, Rocambole, Asiatic, Turban, Elephant||Silverskin, Creole, Artichoke|
They make an appearance in June about a month before the garlic is ready for harvest. Once the scape forms a full curl, you should cut it off so that the garlic can redirect its energy back into growing large bulbs. Garlic scapes have a mild garlic flavor & can be eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, and even pickled.
Harvesting Your Garlic
Garlic is ready to be harvested in the summer – for us that’s typically mid-July. You’ll know it’s ready once half of the leaves on the plant are dying. You want to maximize growth time, but if you leave it in the ground too long, the head will begin to separate – which affects its storage life – so keep a close eye.
Garlic Maturity Chart by Type
|Garlic Variety||Average Harvest Month|
|Turban||May – June|
|Asiatic||May – June|
|Rocambole||June – July|
|Artichoke||June – July|
|Creole||June – July|
|Porcelain||July – August|
|Silverskin||July – August|
|Elephant||May – July|
Hang garlic in bundles of 5-10 heads in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight and moisture. This allows the garlic to cure, drying the paper covering so that it’s easy to peel. If you try to peel fresh garlic, it’ll give you a headache.
They’ll need to hang for 2-3 weeks. You’ll know they’re cured if you cut the leaves off the garlic and check inside the stem. If it’s still green, they need to cure longer. If it’s dry all the way through, you’re garlic’s ready to store.
Garlic is best stored in a netted bag or ventilated crate – anywhere with decent airflow so they don’t get moldy. Honestly, we just keep ours hanging in the shop & cut them down as needed for cooking. Ideal storage temperature is 55-65 degrees without too much humidity. Do not store in the fridge, as the high humidity levels will cause them to sprout. Depending on the variety grown, garlic will store anywhere from 4 months – 1 year.
Garlic Storage Chart by Type
|Garlic Type||Average Store Time|
|Purple Stripes||4-6 months|
|Elephant||8 – 10 months|