Garlic Growing Tips

Garlic can be planted in fall or spring, but in colder climates fall planting will ensure cloves are given plenty of time to mature and form full heads.


Choose firm bulbs that are fully encased in their paper. Note that heads you purchase for planting are significantly smaller than what you would purchase for eating. Though it is possible garlic purchased in grocery stores may be productive, some are treated to inhibit sprouting. Stock purchased at garden centres will be clearly labeled, so you are assured you are planting a variety specific to your culinary tastes.


Separate each head into individual cloves. Dig a trench or larger hole 2-3x the depth of the cloves. Place a handful of grit/sand in the base of the planting hole for drainage, along with a handful of bone meal or slow release garden fertilizer for nutrients. Place cloves in trench or hole approximately 8” apart. Fill in the planting hole with quality garden loam. Water well. Areas can be mulched for extra winter protection, be sure to mulch after temperatures are consistently below 0ºC.

Growing & Harvesting

During the growing season garlic does prefer a moderate amount of moisture. During hot, dry times, ensure you are watering once per week. Mulch can be used around plants to maintain moisture if desired. The bone meal used when planting will have been used up by early summer; at this point apply bone meal again to the base of the plant or continue to fertilize the plant with a water soluble fertilizer such as 15-30-15 every two weeks. Note: watering should be stopped a few weeks prior to harvest.
Use leaves to indicate when it is time to harvest. Typically, green leaves start to die from the bottom up. When the bottom 3 or 4 leaves are dead and the top 5 or 6 are still green, it’s time to lift the bulbs. To be sure, dig a bulb or two to check that the bulb is fully swelled and well sized. Try to choose a dry day for harvesting. Garlic now must be cured for storage. Lay on mesh racks or tie in bundles to hang in a dry, shady spot. After two-three weeks, garlic stems can be cut (ensure no green remains in center of stalk) and placed in storage.