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Planting Garlic

October 28th, 2010

It’s that time of the year to plant garlic. I’ve read that you should plant it around fall equinox, which I missed by about a month. I received my planting garlic the day before we left on vacation and just planted it on Sunday. I ordered 2 garlic samplers from Gourmet Garlic Gardens again this year. Each year I’ve grown garlic, I’ve tried a few different method for planting. I’m hoping this year I’ll finally be able to grow nice big heads of garlic. Mine usually end up being small, but they’re still quite tasty. I chose a free-draining area of the front garden and amended the soil heavily with compost.

I used the planting method I tried 2 years ago which worked better than what I did last year. Gourmet Garlic Gardens recommends soaking your separated garlic overnight in a mixture of baking soda and fish emulsion (1 gallon of water + 1 heaping Tablespoon of baking soda + 1 Tablespoon of fish emulsion). The following day, remove garlic from this mix and soak for a few minutes in rubbing alcohol. I used this method 2 years ago and every single clove of garlic I planted sprouted into a bulb. Last year I simply planted the garlic without soaking and about 20% of the cloves I planted did not sprout. I decided I’d go with the soaking this year.

When I plant garlic, I loosen the soil about 10 inches deep. Then I measure out my plant spacing and add a teaspoon of bone meal where I want to plant each bulb (usually around 6 inches apart). I use my planting trowel and plant each bulb 4 inches deep. Then water in well and mulch with straw or leaves mixed with grass clippings. That’s it, plain and simple, the garlic will grow in the spring. What varieties of garlic am I growing this year?

Belarus is a beautiful Purple Stripe garlic with a rich garlicky flavor and is delightfully mellow but with a little bite when raw. The outer bulb wrappers are white and thick and becoming vertically striped with increasingly more purple stripes the closer to the cloves one gets. The clove covers themselves are a deep reddish purple. If you like a lot of red, you’ll love these Purple Stripe garlics. Belarus can be a very prolific garlic in cold winter areas and grows well in states with moderate temps but probably not for extreme southern areas.

Purple Glazer is one of the few Glazed Purple Stripes available and they’re fabulous garlics that grow well in most climates, although iffy in the warmest winter areas. Their bulb wrappers show a different texture than either the main group of Purple Stripes or the distinctive Marbled group. Glazed Purple Stripes are the tall willowy maidens of the garden and are usually the tallest garlics. With good growing conditions the bulbs can get very large, 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. The inner bulb wrappers of Purple Glazers can be almost solid purple with purple clove colors and they are very beautiful bulbs of very rich color and they are a lovely addition to the table centerpiece until you’re ready to eat them. If you want to flash some stark, raving color to get someone’s attention, these garlics will do the job. Purple Glazer has that same sweet warm richness of flavor common to Purple Stripe garlics; excellent for raw eating and fabulous for roasting because of the exceptional sweetness of Purple Stripe garlics. They’re more like Red Toch or Burgundy in flavor and have a very pleasant lingering aftertaste. These bulbs store every bit as long and firm as the standard Purple Stripes, around 7-8 months at room temp after harvest.

really lives up to its name when it comes to thriving in cold weather. A top-notch producer in cold climates, Siberian deserves consideration for all northern gardeners. The cloves are protected by an attractive light pink skin that becomes even redder when grown in high-iron soils. This clean, medium-to-strong flavored garlic will warm your soul on the coldest winter evening. Best of all, it is prized for having a very high allicin content, possibly the highest of any garlic. Allicin supports normal cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system, and enhances circulation. Harvests mid-late season – stores 7-9 months

German Extra Hardy is a large, beautiful and well-formed porcelain garlic. Its flavor is very strong and robust and sticks around for a long time. From a growers perspective, it is a tall dark green plant and is a very good survivor, usually grows healthy and appears to be somewhat resistant to many of the diseases that can affect garlic. It originally came from Germany but grows well in all but the most southerly states, where it is marginal. Being a Porcelain German White/ Extra Hardy stores a long time at cool room temp, around 10 months or longer.

Georgian Crystal is a large and beautiful porcelain garlic with delightfully robust flavor but not very much hotness. If you want a richly flavored, long storing Porcelain that won’t burn you out, this one’s for you. It grows well in most states even some years in warm winter areas, but will be marginal there in years with early hot summers. From a growers perspective, it is a large and healthy garlic to grow and appears to be relatively resistant to most of the diseases that can affect garlic. It originated in the Republic of Georgia, the former Soviet republic between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. An excellent garlic for raw eating and in pesto, salsa, etc. Harvests mid-summer – a rich yet mellow garlic that stores into spring at room temp.

is a large, beautiful and well-formed porcelain garlic similar to Northern White. Its flavor is very rich and musky, strong and robust and sticks around for a while. It’s very popular for a reason. From a growers perspective, it is a tall dark green plant and is a very good survivor, usually grows healthy and appears to be somewhat resistant to some of the diseases that can affect garlic. I’m not real sure just where Music originated, but it likes cold weather and can get quite large in good growing conditions. Grows well in most states even some years in Warm Winter Areas, but will be marginal there in years with early hot summers. Harvests mid-summer – stores into spring.

Amish Rocambole may be an heirloom garlic, who knows? (a garden plant whose lineage can be traced for a 100 years or more) It was grown in Wisconsin and comes to us from Gale Waege and Keene Organics. It is a generally a vigorous grower with large foliage that is dark green and results in a pretty good sized bulb. Being a Rocambole garlic, its flavor is very strong, hot and spicy and sticks around for a long time. From a growers perspective, it grows well in cold winter areas, but does poorly in warm winter areas, and usually grows healthy fairly uniform sized bulbs. It has thin bulb wrappers that have a lot of purple and brown in them. It usually has anywhere from 8 or 9 easy to peel cloves that are of good size, with no smaller inner cloves. The outer bulb wrappers are thin and flake off easily so it is not a very good storer, but no Rocambole is – through the fall and into winter. Great taste is their claim to fame, not long storage. For those up North who want to grow their own garlic it only takes a year or two to grow all you can eat. It harvests in early summer along with most of the other Rocamboles. Bulbs are usually over 2 1/2 inches in diameter and are of good size are grown primarily for their particularly rich flavor.

I’m excited about trying all these new varieties as I haven’t grown any of them before. I always try to grow lots of garlic as we eat a lot of it. We love garlic in all kinds of dishes, I usually use a few cloves a day. It helps keep us healthy all winter long. Here’s a great article about the health benefits of garlic.

Are you a garlic lover? Do you grow garlic in your garden?

42 Comments to “Planting Garlic”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Planting #Garlic #edible #plantinggarlic […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Planting Garlic | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. kristin @ going country on October 28, 2010 at 7:46 am

    If it would stop raining every other day and allow the soil to dry out, I might actually be able to dig my garlic bed. Frustrating.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on October 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

      We’ve had the opposite problem, it was so dry I had to water before planting. Now I’m on to potato onions and shallots.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Kaytee on October 28, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I planted some garlic last month, I believe it was German Hardneck, that I bought from the farmer’s market. All I did was plug them into the loosened soil (which I had amended with some compost a month earlier). And wouldn’t you know, all of them sprouted. Now I’m just concerned I planted them TOO early. Will they make it to next year if they’ve sprouted already?

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

    • Susy on October 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

      I think they’ll be OK, I’ve read they can sprout in the fall.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • kristin @ going country on October 28, 2010 at 11:16 am

      It’s okay if they peek above ground in the fall. Ours do sometimes. If you live in a place with a cold winter, you can cover the sprouts with straw or leaves to protect them, and then just make sure to move the mulch away from the sprouts a bit in the spring so you don’t smother the plants.

      Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

      • Debbie on October 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

        Ours sprouted like crazy last year and we still got a head from each clove this summer. They’ll be fine.

        to Debbie's comment

  4. cat on October 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

    You should wait until a “hard frost” happens before mulching your garlic. In the spring when you see the tops popping out, add some compost. That’s all you really need to do. After many years of growing garlic in my cold canadian climate, this method has resulted in great garlic come late July.

    Reply to cat's comment

  5. Sense of Home on October 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

    We use a lot of garlic in our kitchen, but when it comes to growing garlic I have only been marginally successful. Maybe I should try the Siberian.


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  6. MAYBELLINE on October 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I am and I do.
    Thanks for all the information.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  7. amy on October 28, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I do…..and like you…..I was running a bit behind but I got mine out a couple of weeks ago in a new compost bed…..I have grown it for years and had no idea I could do the things you mentioned to improve harvest rate……I’ll try those in the spring for the fall crop……Thank you :)

    Reply to amy's comment

  8. Donna B. on October 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

    How wonderful! I wanted to order from the “Gourmet Garlic Garden’s” site last year, but I forgot… and I forgot again this summer! Blast!
    But I’m adding the varieties you’ve mentioned to my list… I myself LOVE the strong taste of garlic, but my better half prefer’s a more muted taste. The “Georgian Crystal” sounds perfect to grow!
    I did manage though, to my dismay, to plant some grocery store garlic… as I did last year, and all of the cloves grew into small bulbs… really small. I didn’t know you could add Bonemeal!
    I guess you treat them like edible tulips? hehe.
    I’ll be adding Bonemeal to my next planting! [Doing so this sunday. Going to do three plantings one week apart.]

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  9. Sande on October 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

    A very nice post on garlic. I’m trying garlic in the garden for the first time this winter. I bought Polish Softneck, which is supposed to be okay for my Michigan garden – we’ll see. I planted and mulched it too soon and have shoots up about 5 inches already. If it doesn’t overwinter I’ll try again next year implementing some of your tips.

    Reply to Sande's comment

  10. Tommy on October 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Great post on garlic. The most essential garden crop!
    I love planting garlic—it’s so easy to get a bumper crop. This year I planted Music, Elephant, Chesnok Red, and CA Early and Late. The hardest part is remembering where I planted each variety—the Elephant is the easy one to tell apart from the others.
    I’ve never soaked the garlic and I’m amazed that the rubbing alcohol bath doesn’t hurt the bulbs. Is that to kill any possible fungus on the bulb? Interesting.
    I do plant each bulb with a quick shot of bone meal and that seems to give it the kick it needs to start growing.

    Reply to Tommy's comment

    • Susy on October 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      Yes the alcohol is meant to kill any bug eggs and fungus that are on the bulbs prior to planting. I’m guessing this isn’t necessary if you save your own bulbs since you’ll know if you had any disease problems. I had much better yield when I used this method.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Debbie on October 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve never heard of the things you are doing. Interesting. We save our own garlic bulbs and have NEVER had a problem with disease at all. We also do very little to prepare for planting our garlic. Our soil is heavy clay and we just pop it in the ground (with a little amendment) and let it go. We’ve always had really decent size heads or garlic. And we’ve always had a 100% success rate. I wonder why some of them don’t sprout. Do you have ideas aroudn this? My in-laws never cut off their scapes and so their heads are always really small but they like harvesting the bulbis that come after the garlic has flowered. My FIL eats them raw with his soups and whatnot.
    I’ll be interested to see how your harvest is next summer. I couldn’t live without garlic. Did you mention how many bulbs you planted?

    Reply to Debbie's comment

    • Susy on October 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      I planted 130 cloves this year. I have very lean sandy soil, so my garlic needs all the help it can get. I didn’t have any trouble with disease 2 years ago, but this past year I had some issues with cloves not sprouting, but I did order my garlic from a different place last year so that may have been my problem.

      I seem to have small heads like your in-laws, I do cut the scapes off and eat them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. amy manning on October 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    This was the first year that I had a terrible garlic harvest. It was unusually cold and rainy this year, and I’m thinking that must be why.

    Reply to amy manning's comment

  13. Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog on October 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Fascinating tips, I will definitely try them. We also eat a TON of garlic, but I’ve always had trouble growing big enough bulbs. My favorite use for garlic by far is medicinal: whenever I feel that terrible tingle of a looming cold, I eat a clove of minced garlic (raw, on a cracker). Knocks it out every time. So far.

    Reply to Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog's comment

  14. Amy @ Homestead Revival on October 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve never planted garlic before. Technically, I’m in a zone 7, but I have a microclimate of about a zone 5 or 6. Is it too late to order and plant this year if I order some today?

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

    • Susy on October 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      I don’t think so, it should do OK, I’d give it a go.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Amy @ Homestead Revival on November 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm

        I got my garlic in and will soak it tomorrow. My only ?? is about the rubbing alcohol. Seems weird. Can you tell me what this does for the garlic?

        to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

  15. Jennifer Fisk on October 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I just planted my garlic on Wednesday and got the straw on today. I use my own garlic year after year. I read somewhere that it acclimatizes to your growing conditions so using your own is best. I think it is safe to plant any time up until a hard freeze and mulching creates its private environment. It is tricky since you want it to root a little but not sprout above the soil surface. I just love finding those little sprouts in the spring and then the scapes. Pesto after the turn. Yummy

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  16. Wendy on October 29, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I’m planting garlic for the first time. Thanks for sharing this advice.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  17. elisa rathje on November 1, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    ohh, i can do this in the spring for a fall harvest? aha! we had our first harvest last summer, they were quite small but still very satisfying that we planted and then neglected! the scapes are just from hard-neck, i think? i’d love to try several types this year if i can, but may only have time to plant up some of what we harvested ourselves. x

    Reply to elisa rathje's comment

  18. Rick on November 7, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Good comments all. We have planted (organic) garlic for about 11 yrs in southwestern Ontario. For the 2009 plant we put in about 800 plants. Primarily a Purple Stripe, we enjoy it very much, raw or cooked by many methods. Our surlus harvest lasts 6-8 months in the cool basement. We give it out to friends, neighbours and family.
    We trim the scape after it makes its curl like a pig-tail. We cook it or let it dry out. If we let it dry, the seed pods expand and flake, producing scores or little garlic bulbils each. I will be planting some bulbils in sterile potting soil to see if can get some tiny sprouts. I think it takes about 2 yrs to get good bulbs. We put the seeds in a dish on the counter and eat them all winter. Each tiny seed is like a flavour explosion when you bite into it. I just planted (a little late) on Nov.2/2010, in clay with peat moss tilled 4-6″ deep. Soaked the cloves in warm water for a day. I use a broom stick to poke holes and pop the cloves in. Quick overnight frosts are coming in now, thaws during days, so I covered the ground with a plastic tarp till the sun comes back next wk. I will top off with some manure compost and straw in a wk or so, This year I planted several other varieties.
    Polish Carpathia, Leningrad, Red Russian, and Irkutsk. I am looking forward to seeing what yield we get, and trying the new flavours. We put in over 1100 plants this yr.
    I am wild about the health effects from garlic. I had fought off some bad, very serious viral sinus infections a yr ago. I hit it very hard with 6-8 cloves, raw, 2-3 times a day for day and half. GONE!!!
    I was up next day, feeling like a teenager (nearly 60 soon). Now, at the sign af any cold symptoms, its garlic to the rescue. The Vampires (metaphor) are gone. Happy garlic experiences to you all!

    Reply to Rick's comment

    • Susy on November 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

      Thanks for the great info Rick! I’ll have to try drying some scapes, we usually eat them all fresh, we love them sauteed.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. […] garlic that I planted last fall is looking great this spring. I’m interested to see how the different varieties grow and the […]

    Reply to Looks Like We Don’t Have To Worry About Vampires | Chiot’s Run's comment

  20. A Bountiful Garlic Harvest | Chiot's Run on July 20, 2011 at 4:46 am

    […] third year that I’ve grown garlic and this was my best harvest yet. I harvested over 125 heads of 8 different varieties. This year I finally have a large enough harvest that I’ll be able to use some of them to plant […]

    Reply to A Bountiful Garlic Harvest | Chiot’s Run's comment

  21. Rose on October 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Wow! I learned so much from this post about garlic! Thanks!

    Reply to Rose's comment

  22. Nancy DeVries on October 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    We had 2 varieties this year that yielded 109 heads, I think it was a Georgian fire something or other and an elephant this year. I am not sure what will go in the ground this year since they didn’t get that big. I am 2 weeks from delivering and my husband broke is leg so this will be our most fun crop this year to plant :)

    Reply to Nancy DeVries's comment

  23. c barauskas on October 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    My favorite variety of garlic (from reading descriptions) is Music, because it looks like it would thrive in these Ca. Coastal Mountains, with fog, and poor, steep soil. I have had great luck growing garlic further north and love the red soft-neck types. I hope to plant lots, as I plant my bare-root fruit trees in my new garden. It has been a lot of work to prepare it, removing all the fallen trees and Scotch Broom, So I have now a terraced clearing next to the new-to-me 90 year-old log cabin. Any suggestions appreciated. Thank you, Cb

    Reply to c barauskas's comment

  24. Joan Breit on October 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Love garlic and eat it on toast with cheese most mornings. Planted eight kinds for the first time this fall.

    Reply to Joan Breit's comment

  25. JANET coliron on October 14, 2012 at 12:10 am

    i love the benifits of God’s pungent little pods. what doesn’t it do? Our hearts thank your studies keep up the good work

    Reply to JANET coliron's comment

  26. Farmer Tony on October 14, 2012 at 4:37 am

    I’m four years into growing garlic in the desert and I’ve got to say it’s great to grow here. I’m in charge of a school garden and it’s wonderful teaching the kids how cool garlic is. So far I’ve tried to California Early White and Music. I’m especially pleased with the flavor of Music. Thanks for this great chance to try new things, what fun!

    Reply to Farmer Tony's comment

  27. Alex Kashevaroff on October 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for the very informative and colorful blog on planting various garlic. The notes on planting depth and soaking are especially helpful, as I have had trouble getting mine to sprout. God bless you for sharing these insights.

    Reply to Alex Kashevaroff's comment

  28. Linda Bostwick on October 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I want to grow lots of garlic to keep the vampires away and any other unwanted guests. Thanks

    Reply to Linda Bostwick's comment

  29. Linda on October 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I love garlic and use it daily as well! I’ve learned so much about the different varieties and some growing tips and want to thank you for this blog!!

    Reply to Linda's comment

  30. Jerrilyn Delaney on October 18, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Thans for the great descriptions and info you have given on your garlic blog.
    I have loved growing garkic since my very first try, around 15 yerars or so ago. I am always looking for different strains to add to my collection. I currently grow about 10 main varieties and have about 10 or so small amounts of which I am building up seed stock. I love growing Incheleum, persian star purple stripe, metechi, roja, shantung purple and romanian, to name a few. I save my own seed as I am leary of planting garlic in my soil that hasn’t come from a reliable source so as not to bring in the garlic growers arch enemy….white root root.
    I rock the garlic so much so that my first born grandaughter, Alana, has given me the name ‘Grandma Garlic’. This has caught on around here and now, where I live and grow my garlic, has become known as Grandma Garlic’s Place. I love it !!!

    Reply to Jerrilyn Delaney's comment

  31. Brenda on March 4, 2013 at 5:01 am

    I’ve always heard if the paper skin on garlic is damaged, don’t plant the clove. Does soaking effect this? With soaking, do the heads come out bigger?

    Thanks brenda

    Reply to Brenda's comment

    • Susy on March 4, 2013 at 8:31 am

      The head will come out slightly larger and it is said to help with disease resistance as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  32. Lott. David Lott on December 27, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Thank you for the tip on soaking , every little bit of your advise is helping
    to overcome my lack of useful information .
    Please let me where an overseas gardener should order seeds for
    this coming spring ?

    With warmest regards,
    David Lott

    Reply to Lott. David Lott's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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