Thursday, November 4, 2010

Planting Garlic Tutorial

First off, You gotta try this! It is so easy. Garlic should be planted in the fall, as it takes about 9 months to mature. Depending on where you live, you probably still have time to do this this year. Here in Maine, if you get it in the ground in the next week or so, you will be fine!

Step One.

Buy some good quality seed garlic from your local farm store. Seed garlic is basically bulbs of garlic. You can also buy garlic at the grocery store and use it as seed garlic. But the farm grown garlic is bigger (produces bigger cloves for you), more suited to your area, and tastes ALOT better than grocery store garlic (which by the way probably comes from China-see this article) We buy our seed garlic at Snell's Farm, and it hasn't let us down!

Step Two.

Separate your bulb into individual cloves.

Step Three.

Prepare soil by tilling to a depth of 6-8 inches and add compost to the soil. This is absolutely the only hard part. (It involves a bit of muscle, or machinery.) 

If you have a rototiller, use this. If not, a good old fashioned shovel or pitchfork will work wonders. Prepare furrows 2 inches deep.

Step Four.

Plant individual cloves of garlic 2 inches deep and about 4-5 inches apart. (Cover with soil once planted.) Rows should be about 12 inches apart. The cloves should be planted with the pointy side up.

Step Five.

Cover planted garlic with a thick layer (4-6 inches) of hay or straw mulch.

Take a break if needed.

Step Six.
Enjoy your winter. 

Step Seven.

Check them out in the spring. Re-mulch if you like. Keep them weed free. (OK, the weeding may be the hardest part!) Water regularly. They will grow and look great. In mid summer they will send up these scapes in the center of the plant. If you can, cut these off (and use in your cooking as you would use garlic). The reason to cut these off is so the plant won't waste energy growing these scapes and will use energy growing nice big healthy bulbs.

Step Eight.

The garlic is ready to be harvested when the top 1/3 of the plant is starting to not look so good-think yellow, brown, dying. In Maine, that means mid-late July usually. If you can try to go easy on the watering for a week or two before you harvest. Harvesting is simply loosening the soil around the plants and pulling up the whole plant. At the end, there will be a gorgeous garlic bulb filled with cloves for you!

Step Nine.

Dry the garlic. Lay the plants flat in a dry spot for 2-3 weeks. (I use my basement.) After this, you can peel off the outermost dirty layer, cut the stem and hang them in a mesh bag to use all winter long! (Or, to save a step, you can leave them as is, and still store and eat them all winter long!)
PS This nice looking garlic is from the farm store. Mine still looks like the picture above that-I am all about saving a step!

OK, to sum up. You should do this! It is easy and fun. All you have to worry about right now is getting some cloves 2 inches underground in some half way decent soil! Have fun in the dirt!


  1. I REALLY want to try this! It looks so easy and how great to have your own garlic in the summer! Hopefully this weekend...the kids are super cute "taking a break!" I <3 them!

  2. Thanks for this Vanessa! This will be our third try at garlic this year. We planted them too close the first time, and didn't plant nearly enough the second. It's so fun experimenting in the gardens, but lets hope this is a good year! ~Laura


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