Growing Garlic in 5 Easy Steps

Last Updated on 11/07/2023 by Barney

image with garlic background
Nothing more wonderful than homegrown garlic

If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to add some flavour to your meals, learning how to grow garlic and harvest your own tasty garlic bulbs may be the perfect solution!

In this article I will provide tips for choosing the right garlic variety, and grow garlic successfully at home, on an allotment or balcony and when to harvest garlic at the right time. I’ll also discuss how to store your garlic bulbs so that you can enjoy its delicious flavour all winter long!

My passion is sharing my knowledge about gardening, and helping them to see how easy it can be to grow their own food. There’s nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up when they taste something they’ve grown themselves! Reaping the rewards of planting garlic cloves is one of those moments.

Continue reading for my top tips on growing and harvesting homegrown garlic. Your stir fries, soups, pastas and curries will never taste the same again.

So, let’s crack on with how easy it is to grow garlic.

#1. Identify the right place for growing garlic

hands holding garden soil
Garlic prefers a free draining soil in a sunny position

To grow garlic successfully the planting location needs to be a sunny spot, preferably located in full sun with a well drained soil.

Don’t worry if your soil is not free draining. Heavy soil can be remedied by digging in garden compost or well rotted manure before planting the individual garlic cloves.

Digging in either of these will help with drainage & provide food and nutrients to your developing bulbs.

If growing in pots and planters the same applies. A sunny position with a free draining compost.

#2. Choosing the right type of garlic to grow

There are 2 types of garlic that are easily grown in the UK, they are called softneck and hardneck garlic.

Garlic can be both Spring planted garlic for late summer harvesting and Autumn planted garlic for early summer harvesting the following year.

Softneck garlic does better in milder parts of the UK and can be planted in both Spring and Autumn. Wheres as ‘hardneck’ varieties need a period of cold weather so really only suitable for late Autumn planting.

Within ‘Soft & Hardneck’ types of garlic there are many varieties. From mild flavour types such as the huge elephant garlic to strong and punchy flavours such as Cledor.

I’m a garlic fiend and love growing garlic as it requires little attention until harvest time. Living in the South of England I usually plant both types in Autumn and plant softneck garlic in Spring.

#3. Planting the Garlic Cloves

planting garlic cloves in a row
Planting garlic in rows is the easiest method

Once you have your certified garlic bulbs from a garden centre or on-line retailer it’s time to plant garlic.

Supplied as whole garlic bulbs they need to be carefully broken down into individual garlic cloves . Depending on the variety each bulb can render up to 18 individual cloves.

Planting garlic cloves could not be simpler….

If there hasn’t been the need to cultivate the soil and improve its structure with compost then a sprinkling of fertiliser is advised. Blood, fish & bone or equivalent is good.

We’ve all seen a clove before. They have a flat end and a pointy end. It is the pointy end that needs to face upwards when you plant garlic.

planting grid for garlic coves
You can grow 42 garlic bulbs in a 1m x 1m patch

Push the clove into the soil so the top of the garlic clove is approx 1-2″ below the soil surface Lightly cover with soil so the top of the clove is not visible.

Individual cloves need to be spaced 10cm apart with 30cm between rows. I have produced this little graphic to show how many coves can be planted in a 1m x 1m space.

This has never happened to me but pigeons can take a fancy to newly planted cloves. Avoid this by covering the planted area with a horticultural fleece until the bulbs are firmly rooted.

Look after your planting and in a few weeks each garlic clove will magically turn into a bulb.

#4. Watering & Caring for your Garlic Bulbs

watering garlic with a watering can
Water in dry spells only to avoid rotting the bulbs

Water liberally during Spring and early Summer but stop when the bulbs begin to swell. Avoid over watering and only in dry spells where there is less risk of rot affecting the garlic bulb.

During the growing season prevent competition from weeds by keeping the space between the garlic plants weed free. As a tight space between plants and rows a had fork works better than a hoe where you run the risk of damaging the bulb or foliage.

Growing garlic does not need any specialist fertiliser. They’re the original, easy to grow vegetable for the time & money conscious gardener.

#5. Time to Harvest Garlic

Garlic is ready to harvest when the lower leaves turn brown and begin to dry out. At this point the garlic heads should be firm and the cloves swollen. To harvest, carefully loosen the soil with a garden fork and gently lift the bulbs to avoid bruising the bulb.

Cut off the stalks about an inch above the bulb. Allow the garlic to cure in a warm, dry place for two to three weeks before using or storing.

After harvesting your garlic, you can enjoy it fresh or store it for later use. If you plan on storing your garlic, be sure to cure it properly first. Curing helps to improve both the flavor and storage life of garlic.

To cure garlic, simply allow it to sit in a warm, dry place for two to three weeks . Once cured, you can store garlic in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

With proper care and harvesting techniques, you can enjoy fresh garlic all year! Growing your own garlic is a great way to get started in the world of gardening.

With just a little effort, you can have fresh garlic at your fingertips to use in all your favorite recipes. Try growing your own garlic this year and see how easy and rewarding it can be!

Harvested, trimmed and cleaned. Ready for storage

Common Pests and Diseases that can affect Garlic.

White Fluffy Fungus

White fluffy fungus can be a sign that your garlic is ready to harvest. This is because the fungus growing on the garlic indicates that the plant’s sugars have begun to convert into alcohols. While this may seem like a bad thing, it’s actually a good indicator that your garlic is maturing and will be ready to harvest soon.

Leek Rust

This is a fungus that attacks the Allium family, of which garlic is a member. The fungus will cause the leaves of the plant to develop rust-coloured spots. In some cases, the entire leaf may turn brown and die. If left unchecked, t can kill an entire garlic crop.

The best way to prevent leek rust is to plant resistant varieties of garlic. You can also take measures to control the moisture in your garden, as wet conditions are ideal for the spread of this disease. If you do find rust on your plants, remove and destroy any affected leaves immediately. With proper care, you should be able to keep this problem under control and enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious garlic cloves!

Onion White rot

Onion white rot is a serious disease that can affect both onion and garlic crops. The disease is caused by the fungus Sclerotium cepivorum, which attacks the roots and bulb of the plant.

Symptoms include white mould on the bulbs and leaves, as well as stunted growth. If left untreated, white rot can kill an entire crop.

There are several ways to prevent white rot from occurring in your garlic crop. One is to rotate your crops so that they’re not planted in the same spot year after year. This will help to keep the fungus from becoming established in one area.

You should also dig up and remove any infected plants as soon as possible so that the fungus doesn’t have a chance to spread. Finally, make sure you’re using clean, sharp tools when you’re handling your garlic. This will help to prevent the spread of the fungus.

By following these tips, you can help to prevent onion white rot from destroying your garlic crop.

Great Companion Plants for Garlic

One of the great things about garlic is that it doesn’t require a lot of space, making it perfect for companion planting. Here are some of our favourite plants to companion with garlic:

– Basil: This aromatic herb is a great companion for garlic, as it helps to repel pests like mosquitoes and flies.

– Rosemary: Rosemary is another fragrant herb that can help to keep pests away from your garlic plants.

– Tomatoes: Tomatoes and garlic are a classic combination, and companion planting them can help to improve the flavour of both.

– Marigolds: Marigolds are often used as companion plants because they help to deter pests and improve the health of the soil.

There are many vegetables that planting garlic with will greatly benefit from the anti-fungal properties and natural pest deterrence.

We hope these tips help you to grow a bumper crop of garlic this year! companion plants are an important part of organic gardening and can help to create a healthy, balanced ecosystem in your garden.

Can I grow garlic in a pot?

The answer is yes! You can grow garlic in a pot, and it is not difficult to do so. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

– Start with a good quality potting mix. Be sure to use one that is well-draining, as garlic does not like wet feet.

– Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and deep.

– Plant garlic cloves in the Autumn or Spring (depending on variety)

– Place the cloves root side down, spacing them about four inches apart.

– Water well after planting, and then keep the soil moist but not soggy throughout the growing season

Do I need Fertiliser for garlic

Providing you applied fertiliser at the time of planting garlic should be ok without any additional fertiliser until harvest time. However, if you didn’t fertilise at planting give your garlic a feed now. A good organic fertiliser will do the trick.

Why are my garlic cloves green?

Green garlic cloves are a sign that the cloves were not planted deep enough and have been getting sunlight on the growing bulb.

Can I use shop bought garlic bulbs?

Whilst it is tempting you should avoid using shop bought garlic for planting. The bulbs you purchase from the supermarket have probably been treated with chemicals to stop them sprouting and can also carry disease.

If you want to be sure of success, buy certified garlic from a reputable gardening supplier.

Do you peel garlic before planting?

No, there is no need to peel the garlic before planting as the peel protects the clove in the first stages of growth.

It is possible to grow garlic indoors?

You can grow garlic indoors but there are a few things you need to take into account.

Garlic needs a lot of sunlight so make sure when growing garlic indoors they get plenty of light. You’ll also need to water your garlic regularly and fertilize it every few weeks. Most gardeners tend to grow indoors for the ‘greens’ produced.

These are great snipped off every few weeks and added to recipes when cooking.

What is the best garlic to grow in the UK?

The best garlic to grow in the UK is garlic that has been specifically grown for the climate. Garlic from warmer climates will not do as well in the cooler, wetter weather of the UK.

Some garlic growers in the UK have had success with garlic from the following countries:

– France

– Italy

– Spain

If you are looking for a garlic that will do well in the UK, try one of these varieties. You may have to order garlic bulbs from a specialist supplier, as they may not be available in your local garden center.

It’s a Wrap from Me

So, now that you know all about growing and harvesting garlic, go ahead and plant garlic in your garden . Not only will you have a delicious addition to your meals next summer, but you’ll also be helping out your local ecosystem by providing shelter and food for pollinators like bees.

If you are looking for further easy to grow crops then be sure check out my guide 5 step guide to growing onions.