How to Plant Garlic
- Garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Plant in the fall and you’ll find that your bulbs are bigger and more flavorful when you harvest the next summer.
- Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove.
- Plant cloves about one month before the ground freezes.
- Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery.
- Ensure soil is well-drained with plenty of organic matter. Select a sunny spot.
- Place cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in their upright position (the wide root side facing down and pointed end facing up).
- In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.
- Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the clue is to look for yellow tops. Harvest when the tops begin to yellow and fall over, before they are completely dry.
- Check the bulb size and wrapper quality; you don’t want the wrapper to disintegrate. Dig too early and the bulb will be immature. Discontinue watering.
- To harvest, carefully lift the bulbs with a spade or garden fork. Pull the plants, carefully brush off the soil, and let them cure in an airy, shady spot for two weeks. We hang them upside down on a string in bunches of 4 to 6. Make sure all sides get good air circulation.
- The bulbs are cured and ready to store when the wrappers are dry and papery and the roots are dry. The root crown should be hard, and the cloves can be cracked apart easily.
- Once the garlic bulbs are dry, you can store them. Remote any dirt and trim off any roots or leaves. Keep the wrappers on—but remote the dirtiest wrappers.
- Garlic bulbs may be stored individually with the tops removed, or the dried tops may be braided together to make a garlic braid to hang in the kitchen or storage room.
- Bulbs should be stored in a cool (40 degrees F), dark, dry place, and can be kept in the same way for several months. Don’t store in your basement if it’s moist!
- The flavor will increase as the bulbs are dried.
- If you plan on planting garlic again next season, save some of your largest, best-formed bulbs to plant again in the fall.