From the Ground Up Blog

Garlic Growing & Planting Guide

Garlic Growing & Planting Guide

 

Garlic is widely popular for adding flavor to sauces and stews, cooking meats, sautéing greens, and roasting on its own. Garlic contains chemical compounds that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and that helps lower blood pressure!

Types of Garlics

There are two main types of garlic: softneck (silverskin and artichoke) and hardneck (rocambole, purple stripe, and porcelain).

Hardneck Garlics

 

Hardneck (stiffneck) garlic has fewer but much larger cloves per bulb than softneck types. As it grows it produces a stalk called a “scape.” Scapes can be harvested and used for cooking before the garlic itself is actually harvested.

Hardneck is very richly flavored and generally stronger tasting than softneck. Hardneck garlic is more winter hardy than softneck garlic for fall plantings.
They have less of an outer bulb wrapper, which reduces their shelf life. Often termed topsetting or bolting varieties, hardneck garlic is most closely related to wild garlic.

Rocambole Garlics

Rocamboles tend to grow better in cold winter climates. They produce large, tan or brown colored cloves, easily peeled skins, and a deep full-bodied flavor, considered by some to be the finest tasting garlic of all. Rocambole types include Blanak and German Red.

Purple Striped Garlic

Purple Stripes are named for their vivid purple striping on the bulb wrappers and clove skins. Their taste is strong, complex and richly garlicky, without being overly sulfurous. Many regard purple stripes as the best for roasting. Purple stripes are further broken down into two groups: Glazed and Marbled. Purple Stripe types include Chesnok Red, Deerfield Purple, and Duganski.

Porcelain Garlic

Porcelains produce a beautiful plant and impressive bulb. They have a satiny white wrapper with four to six cloves around a sturdy scape. They are easy to peel and great for cooking. Porcelain types include German White, Mt. Hood, and Music.

Softneck Garlic

Softneck garlic is most common simply because it is easy to grow and keeps longer. It offers a nice mild flavor and is the type you find in most grocery stores.

Softneck garlic generally has a longer shelf life than hardnecks, with more cloves per bulb than hardnecks. It is adaptable to most climates and can be braided easily.

Silver Skin Garlic

Silver skin is the most common and easy to grow.

Artichoke Garlic

Artichoke has larger and fewer cloves per bulb and a milder flavor. The bulb wrappers on the artichoke varieties are coarser than the silverskin and may have some purple blotches. Softneck Italian Red is an Artichoke type.

Elephant Garlic

Elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but a variant of the garden leek species. It has a tall, solid flowering stalk, and broad flat leaves (much like those of the leek), but forms a bulb consisting of very large cloves. Each bulb is approximately 5 to 6” across and can weigh over a pound.

Garlic Culture

When to Plant Garlic?

Garlic is often planted in the fall, from September until about 4 weeks before the ground freezes.

Can Garlic Be Planted in The Spring?

It can be spring planted as soon as the ground can be worked, but best bulb size is generally from fall planted garlic. It may be planted through January in the south.

Garlic Planting Conditions

Does garlic like a lot of sun?

When planting garlic, select an area in full sun.

What’s the best soil for garlic?

Loose, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter and a pH between 6 and 7 is ideal for garlic.

Should I Use Fertilizer for Garlic?

You may use fertilizer or compost higher in Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) to ensure good root development throughout the cold months.

What Conditions Should I Avoid?

Since garlic commences growth very early in the season, it is important to avoid fields that are slow to drain in the spring. The conditions most likely to "winter-kill" garlic are very wet saturated soils with poor drainage.

Planting Garlic

Separate the garlic bulb into individual cloves before planting.

Do You Plant Garlic With Cloves up or down?

Plant the cloves pointed side up to ensure that when the stem grows it will be straight.

How Close Should Garlic be Planted?

Plant individual cloves approximately 2-4” deep, 4-6” apart, in rows 18-24” apart.
The root system starts to develop in fall, and in winter the garlic is dormant. In spring, stems will emerge from the ground, and bulbs will start to grow.

When Should Fertilizer Be Applied to Garlic?

Once the stems start to emerge from the ground, it is a good time to feed with a fertilizer high in nitrogen (N) to promote top growth. Keep the area weed-free.

When Should Seed Scapes Be Cut?

In hardneck varieties, a seed scape, or flower stalk, will form on top of the stem in June (earlier in warmer regions).

When the scape has formed a complete spiral and is about the thickness of a pencil it should be cut or broken off at the base where it emerges from the stalk. This will allow the plant to focus its energy and grow a larger bulb. The scapes are edible too!

Harvesting Garlic

When Should Garlic Be Harvested?

Garlic is ready to be dug or pulled from mid-to-late July (earlier in warmer regions).

Softnecks tend to mature about a week earlier than hardnecks. Softnecks are ready to harvest when about half of the crop has fallen over and is lying on the ground. 

Hardnecks may be harvested when the lower leaves have died and turned brown.

How To Check If Garlic Is Ready For Harvest?

To check if they are mature, pull up a bulb and cut a cross-section. If the cloves are tight against the central stem, then the garlic needs more time. When you begin seeing spaces develop between the stem and the cloves, then it is time to harvest.

Curing Garlic

Dry the garlic out of direct sunlight and in a place with good airflow.

How Long Should Garlic Cure For?

Allow bulbs to cure for about 2 weeks, and then the stem and roots may be trimmed.

What Temperature Should Garlic Store At?

Garlic can be stored at room temperature for short term use, or for longer storage between 32°-50° F with moderate humidity.

How Long Do You Store Garlic For?

Rocamboles and Purple Stripes store for about 6 months. Porcelains and Artichoke types store 8 to 10 months. Silverskins will often store a full year.

How Much Garlic Should I Plant?

1 acre = 43,560 sq ft = 6,272,640 sq in.
6,272,640 sq in.÷ x inches between rows ÷ x inches within rows = # cloves/acre
1 lb hardneck (5-6 bulbs) with 5-6 cloves per bulb = ~33 cloves
1lb softneck (7-10 bulbs) with 6-10 cloves per bulb = ~80 cloves
So, with rows 24” apart and 6”spacing: 6,272,640 ÷24 ÷ 6 = 43,560 cloves / acre
For hardneck garlic: 43,560 ÷ 33 cloves= 1,320 lbs per acre
For softneck garlic: 43,560 ÷ 80 cloves = 545 lbs per acre
Let’s say you only want to plant a 25’ (300”) row at 6” spacing:
300÷ 6 = 50 cloves needed
@ 33cloves/lb, you need about 1.5 lbs of hardneck garlic for a 25’ row.
@80 cloves/lb, you need 0.6 lbs of softneck garlic for a 25’ row.

Shop Garlic Bulbs From Harris Seeds

Shop the highest quality garlic bulbs when you purchase from Harris Seeds. Our seeds have the highest germination rates, so growers new and experienced can achieve success.

2 comments

Dec 29, 2020

Bob,

One of the advantages to growing hardneck garlic in a high tunnel is that you can plant them later into the fall than planting in open fields. It is dependent upon your region, but here in the Northeastern United States high tunnels can allows us to plant as late as Mid-November, however traditional planting period for colder climates is October. By planting no later than October it allows most bulbs to establish root growth in the warmer soil which allows them to produce larger bulbs the following year.

Garlic does not like to compete with weeds so mulching definitely helps to suppress weeds as well as retain moisture. Be careful, if the soil is too wet this can cause cloves to rot and not produce bulbs. I have found that by using a hardwood mulch it can compress too much and make it difficult for the top growth to push through it in the spring. Traditionally a thicker layer of hay, straw or even leaves work best depending upon your area.

As with any item you try to grow it is best to reach out to your local cooperative extension to see what works the best for your area.

Harris Seeds
Dec 29, 2020

I have tried hard neck garlic in our high tunnel. When in the late fall should it be planted? If it has growth going into winter will it be harmful? I used about 2" of mulch over it last fall to keep weeds down and some did not come up very good.

Bob

Leave a public comment

Subscribe