Garlic for a Year!

How to Grow, harvest, and store garlic.


Garlic is used to make a variety of dishes more tasty. It has wonderful health benefits and can be dried to last for a long time. Growing garlic is easy and inexpensive, and one growing season produces so much garlic that you’ll have plenty to share with your friends.

Part One of Five:
Preparing to Grow Garlic

  1.  In general, the best times for planting are mid-autumn or early spring.

  2. 2

    Choose a planting spot and prepare the soil. Garlic needs a lot of full sun, but it might tolerate partial shade provided it’s not for very long during the day or growing season. The soil must be well dug over and crumbly. Sandy loam is best.

    • Ensure that the soil has good drainage. Clay-based soils are not good for planting garlic.
    • Use compost and manure to add nutrients to the soil before planting the garlic. You also add compost in early spring.
  3. 3

    Source fresh garlic. Garlic is grown by planting the cloves – called seeds for our purposes – so to get started all you need to do is buy fresh garlic. Choose garlic from a store, or even better, a farm stand or the local farmers market. It’s very important that the garlic bulbs chosen are fresh and of high quality. If you can, choose organic garlic so that you avoid garlic that has been sprayed with chemicals.

    • Choose fresh garlic bulbs with large cloves. Avoid garlic that has become soft.
    • Each clove will sprout into a garlic plant, so keep that in mind when you’re figuring out how many heads to buy.
    • If you have some garlic at home that has sprouted, that’s great to use.
    • Nurseries also offer garlic bulbs for planting. Visit a nursery if you want to get a specific variety or to get advice on local conditions for garlic. You can also find unusual varieties from sources who sell on the internet.

Part Two of Five:
Planting the Garlic

  1. 1

    Break the cloves from a fresh garlic head. Be careful not to damage the cloves at their base, where they attach to the garlic plate. If the base is damaged, the garlic will not grow.

    • Plant the larger cloves. The smaller cloves take up just as much space in the planting bed, but they produce much smaller bulbs.
  2. 2

    Push each clove into the soil. Point the tips upward and plant the cloves about 2 inches (5cm) deep.

    • The cloves should be spaced about 20cm (8 inches) apart for best growing conditions.
  3. 3

    Cover the planted cloves with mulch.Suitable toppings include hay, dry leaves, straw, compost, well rotted manure, or well rotted grass clippings.

  4. 4

    Fertilize the cloves or top-dress with compost. The planted garlic needs a complete fertilizer at the time of planting.

    • Fertilize again in the spring if you are planting your garlic in the fall, or in the fall if you’re planting it in the spring.

Part Three of Five: Caring for Garlic Plants

  1. 1

    Water the plants often. Newly planted garlic needs to be kept moist to help the roots to develop. Don’t overdo the water, as garlic does not grow well, or may even rot, if sodden during cold months.

    • Water deeply once a week if rain has not fallen. Watering garlic is not necessary unless there is a drought, in which case water sparingly, as garlic hates wet soil.
    • Reduce the watering gradually as the season warms up. The garlic needs a hot, dry summer to allow the bulbs to mature.
  2. 2

    Take care of pests. Insects, mice, and other creatures may come to eat the garlic or make a nest among the plants. Beware the following pests:

    • Aphids seem to enjoy garlic leaves, and the flower buds. They’re easy to dispense with – simply rub your fingers over them and squash them or apply a
    • Many people tend to plant garlic underneath roses to deter aphids; the roses benefit from the aphids being drawn away.
    • Mice and other small creatures sometimes nest in mulch. If you have a problem with mice in your area, consider using a type of mulch that doesn’t attract them.

Part Four of Five:
Harvesting the Garlic

  1. 1

    Eat some scapes. As the garlic plants begin to grow, long green stalks called scapes will emerge and form loops. Pull off a few scapes and eat them if you wish.

    • This may damage the garlic bulbs themselves, so don’t do it to every plant.
    • Use gloves when pulling off scapes; otherwise your hands will smell of garlic for days.
  2. 2

    Note the signs of readiness for harvesting. Garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested when you can feel the individual cloves in the bulb, and the leaves turn yellow or brown.

    • Once the scapes start to dry, it is important to harvest the garlic or the head will “shatter” and divide into the individual cloves.
    • Begin harvesting at the end of the summer. Harvesting can continue well into autumn in most places.
    • Some warm climates may enable earlier harvesting of garlic.
  3. 3

    Loosen the area around each bulb with a shovel. Pull the bulbs out of the ground.

    • Be careful with the digging process, since garlic tends to bruise easily.
    • Wash them and leave to dry in a well-ventilated space or in the sun for a few days if rain is guaranteed not to fall. Garlic can get sunburned, so don’t leave them outside for too long.

Part Five of Five:
Storing Garlic

  1. 1

    Store garlic in a cool, dry place in your home. Dried bulbs can be kept in a garlic keeper (usually made from pottery), and individual cloves can be pulled off as needed.

  2. 2

    Make a garlic plait or braid. The dried leaves can be kept back and plaited or braided into a strand, from which you can hang the garlic bulbs in your pantry or kitchen. This is both decorative and useful.

  3. 3

    Store garlic in oil or vinegar. Garlic cloves can be kept in oil or vinegar. However, to avoid the potential for bacterial growth, keep in the refrigerator and consume quickly.

WARNING: Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil.

Spring Update 2016

Hi Everyone,
Many Thanks for coming out the weekend before last. Also, thank you Liz for hosting and opening up your home and driveway! I would have sent this earlier, but the sign up sheet went M.I.A. for a bit.

It was encouraging to hear all of the existing assets and partnerships that exist in many of your neighborhoods, and I am always seeing the potential, and believe the Skyway neighborhood could go a long way with all that you have specifically.

Hopefully you’ll remember that is is perfectly legal to share your properties, plants, knowledge, and resources.
Please let me know if you would like help pulling together some neighborhood action steps.

I already observed:
Skyway has some decent yard space to utilize- this is refreshing compared to the Ballard other urban yards that are getting smaller and smaller. This allows you to do “Food Forestry” and plant fruit tree guilds.
-Liz has some veggies going, and could use more space.
Cynthia has the space for veggies, but could use an extra hand maintaining them.
Bernda has some good front yard exposure, and a big leaf maple, which will produce great leaf mulch to put on the veggie gardens in the fall
Shirley Mae? Virginia? (I forget who lives around the corner), has a huge front yard, ripe for some larger trees or hedgerows (blueberries, hazelnuts, sea-buckthorn).
You have good amount of plant stock to trade amongst each other.
No one had livestock

Because you have larger yards, you can store things for each other as well, including piles of woodchips, soil, compost piles, etc.

Next, I’m looking at the things everyone wants to know and want to let you know there’s things we can do in the short and long term to meet those needs.
One thing people wanted to know is
companion planting (click link)
Crop rotations
Soil. I heard last year that there are over 2000 types of soils in the world. We have some nice stuff here in the NW, but it varies quite a bit for sure.
Soil tests from King County Conservation District, which is for nutrients only. 5 Free per household per lifetime
Soil test from U-Mass, which is more comprehensive.
Fruit Trees (let me know if you want to order anything over $200 and I can get you a deal. And get your shrubs and herbs and vines from CEL nursery!!!!!
Fruit Tree Guilds-

Speaking of this, I am wondering if anyone else is interested in doing a workshop and/or plant sale in their neighborhood?

We have a TON of veggie, herbs, and berries at our nursery in Rainier View neighborhood, probably half mile from Liz’s house as a crow flies. I know a couple of you have scheduled site vists to check out the little piece of paradise (which is still a working yard and former contractor’s dump, so mind your step)

Who is interested in hosting seasonally-appropriate educational sessions and/or work parties?
Who would be wiling to sign on to some grants and get some municipal and county $$$ towards this Edible Neighborhood.
I am happy to consult and design on a one-on-one basis, and of course would prefer to continue the networking and continuous edible neighborhood thread going.
Lastly—a piece I am particularly curious to hear, information technology…..Who is:
interested in being part of an Edible Neighborhood facebook group for their neighborhood?
Edible neighborhood Google group? group dedicated to their edible neighborhood?
Project Management system where people can add to online bulliton board, download useful files from our database, and keep track of progress in the neighborhood?
Lastly, for real this time, we are putting together a “Barnraiser” to help us get together our “Mobile Greenhouse”, which is a greenhouse on trailer so we can visit more neighborhoods in the future and help our greenhouse operation go more smoothly. This is a launch party and fundraiser, as well as plant sale (tis the season!). Please come and bring your friends and your friends’f friends too!

May 14th at Big Chickie in Hillman City Here is a facebook event for it.

May 15th at Saltbox Designs in Ballard. Here is a facebook event for it.