Planting Garlic:
Growing Garlic Organically

Planting garlic is the perfect way to keep your gourmet kitchen (and wallet) stocked all year with this kitchen staple that is used to flavor so many dishes. Fortunately, garlic is easy to grow, even for the beginning gardener.

Planting Garlic: Plant Snapshot (Allium sativum)

Planting Garlic
  • Family: Alliaceae (Onion family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual – Ready to harvest about 20 weeks after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Bogatyre, Georgia Fire, Purple Italian Easy Peel, Bavarian Purple
  • Cold tolerance: Usually hardy in most regions
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Do not rotate with other members of the Allium family such as onions or leeks or Brassicacae (mustard) family such as broccoli, cabbage, radishes or turnips.
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Roses, Raspberries
    • Avoid: None
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Planting Garlic: Planting the Seed

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Garlic is planted from a single clove which will mature into a bulb that has up to eighteen cloves. Select the largest cloves for planting and be sure that it’s in a location that gets full sun and has well-drained soil.

Garlic is planted in the fall about a month before the first frost and then harvested the next summer. It can be planted in early spring, but the crop will not be as prolific as garlic that has been in the ground throughout the entire winter.

When planting in winter, protect the bulbs by laying down a healthy layer of leaf or straw mulch.

Plant garlic near your roses and both will thrive.

Snapshot: Planting Garlic

  • Planting depth: 1 to 3 inches (2.5 cm deep in clay soil, up to 10 cm in sandy soil)
  • Spacing in rows: about 5 inches (13 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: not applicable (grown from cloves)
  • Days to germination: Cloves will sprout leaves in about 2 weeks
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Planting Garlic: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Garlic will grow well in average garden soil as it is well drained, and the plants don't often need watering unless there's a dry spell.

Too much water may cause the bulbs to rot. They should not be watered after the summer solstice, as this is when the bulb is maturing.

After the last spring frost, remove the straw or leaf mulch and replace it with compost in order to encourage growth. Side dressing the garlic with compost when the soil warms in the spring will also help to encourage larger bulbs.

Snapshot: Growing Garlic

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7.5
  • Growing soil temperature: 55 to 75 degrees F (13 to 24 C)
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Planting Garlic: Harvesting Time

Garlic should be harvested when the first six leaves of the plant turn yellow to brown and die down. Garlic should always be dug up, rather than pulled up, to avoid breaking off the bulb.

Dry out garlic in the sun for a couple of weeks before storing.

Snapshot: Harvesting Garlic

  • Time to harvest: About 20 weeks
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Storing Garlic and Freezing Garlic

Garlic is easy to store as long as it is kept in a dry place with air circulation. It also freezes quite well.

Simply separate the bulbs and store in freezer bags. If you have several months worth of garlic, it's often wise to freeze some and keep some stored in a cool dry place.

Next year's garlic can be grown from a clove, and cloves are usually good until they have dried up or rotted.

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Planting Garlic: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Garlic. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.


  • Bulb mites
  • Leafminer
  • Maggots
  • Thrips
  • Wheat curl mites


  • Basal rot
  • Botrytis rot
  • Downy mildew
  • Nematodes
  • Penicillium decay
  • White rot
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