Love garlic? Want to grow your own garlic? Fall to spring is the best season to grow garlic! Growing garlic at home is simple with this Indoor/Outdoor Garlic Growing Guide.
What’s the best season to grow garlic?
Fall to spring is when you want to grow garlic for maximum results. Whether you are planning on growing garlic indoors (more on that later) or planting your bulbs outdoors, garlic is a relatively simple crop to cultivate. Its versatility and health benefits are well worth the time and effort considering the money you’ll save always having fresh garlic on hand!
Growing Garlic Indoors:
First, let’s be clear. You can grow indoor garlic, however, you will not get heads of garlic as you would by planting bulbs outdoors. Instead, you’ll get garlic sprouts or greens, much like what happens when a bulb sprouts on your kitchen counter. These greens are not the same as green garlic and their edible green stalks, but are still quite tasty and can be used as a seasoning or garnish. Note that their flavor is lighter and milder than fresh garlic. To grow your garlic greens indoors:
- Plant 3-4 cloves in a pot filled with potting soil.
- Set them in a high-sun exposure area and water them lightly.
- The greens will grow in 7-10 days and are ready to be snipped and used in all of your recipes.
- Note: To keep these fresh greens on hand, you’ll have to keep planting new bulbs as the others will expire and no longer grow once the greens have been exhausted.
How to grow garlic outdoors:
Growing garlic outdoors is the only way to get actual garlic heads. This is because garlic needs a winter dormancy to grow. They will begin to sprout and grow roots in the fall, then go dormant in the cold winter months, and bloom into fresh garlic bulbs/heads in the springtime.
- Plant garlic in the fall – usually between September 15 and November 30 – after the first light frost of the year.
- Buy a hearty seed garlic and break the bulb into single cloves.
- Loosen the soil in your bed for planting.
- Dig 2″ deep holes in your soil, 6″ apart from each other.
- Place cloves pointy side up into the holes and cover with soil.
- Cover your bed with mulch (you can use pine needles or leaves for this).
It’s important to note that garlic must be left dormant over the winter in order for their bulbs to develop. Do not remove the mulch in the spring as garlic has a hard time competing with weeds and the mulch will keep the weeds at bay. When garlic shoots begin to emerge in early spring, keep the soil moist by supplying one inch of water per week throughout the growing season.
How and when to harvest garlic:
You should harvest after three or four leaves have died and there are still about five or six green leaves remaining on the plant. This will likely happen in June or July depending on your climate. Loosen the soil with a shovel and dig the garlic out. Do not pull it from the stalk as the stalk will likely break off. Tie bulbs in bundles of six or so and hang in a well-ventilated, dry, shaded area for four to six weeks.
This all might sound like a lot of work, but it’s really just time and the patience to wait. The hands on time is very minimal and the reward is great – knowing that you’ve grown your own food! Good luck and happy gardening!