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How to Grow Garlic From a Clove

Growing garlic at home is a simple and cost-effective way to start growing your own produce. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this step-by-step guide will show you how to grow garlic from cloves, from choosing the right type of garlic and preparing the soil, to planting, watering, and harvesting your garlic bulbs.

Hands planting garlic in a raised garden bed.

Garlic is a versatile herb used in many recipes to add flavor and aroma. Growing garlic from a clove is a simple and rewarding process that anyone can do, making it a popular choice for home gardeners.

Preparing the Garlic Cloves

Before planting garlic cloves, it is essential to prepare them properly. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Choose large, healthy garlic bulbs that are firm and free of any blemishes or soft spots.
  • Separate the cloves from the bulb, being careful not to damage them. Choose the largest and healthiest cloves for planting.
  • Remove the papery outer layer from each clove, being careful not to damage the clove itself.
  • Soak the cloves in a solution of water and baking soda for 30 minutes. This will help to prevent fungal diseases.
  • After soaking, rinse the cloves thoroughly and allow them to dry completely before planting.

Properly preparing the garlic cloves before planting can help ensure a successful crop and a bountiful harvest.

Where to plant garlic

When it comes to growing garlic, choosing the right location is crucial. 

Garlic needs a lot of sunlight, so it’s best to choose a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. 

If possible, choose a location that is sheltered from strong winds, as garlic plants can be easily damaged by wind.

Garlic also prefers well-draining soil. If the soil in your chosen location is heavy or clay-like, it may be necessary to amend it with organic matter such as compost or aged manure. This will help improve drainage and provide the garlic with the nutrients it needs to grow.

It’s also important to make sure the location is free from weeds and other competing plants. Garlic does not like to compete for nutrients and water, so it’s best to clear the area of any unwanted plants before planting garlic.

Finally, consider the climate in your area. Garlic prefers cooler temperatures and can be planted in the fall or early spring. In warmer climates, it may be necessary to plant garlic in the fall and harvest it in the spring before the weather gets too hot.

When to plant garlic

The best time to plant garlic is in the fall, about 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes in your area. In most regions, this means planting garlic in September or October. Planting garlic in the fall allows it to establish roots before winter sets in, which helps it grow more vigorously in the spring.

If you live in a warmer climate or have a short growing season, you can also plant garlic in the spring, although the bulbs may be smaller and less flavorful than those planted in the fall. Spring-planted garlic should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, and will be ready to harvest in late summer or early fall.

Planting the garlic cloves

Planting garlic cloves is easy and straightforward. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Prepare the Garlic Bulbs

Separate the cloves from the bulb, being careful not to damage them. Choose the largest, healthiest cloves for planting. Soak the cloves in a solution of water and baking soda for 30 minutes, then rinse and dry thoroughly. This will help to prevent fungal diseases.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Garlic prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Choose a sunny spot in your garden and work in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure. Make sure the soil is loose and crumbly.

Step 3: Plant the Cloves

Plant the cloves pointy end up, about 2 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. Cover with soil and water well.

Step 4: Mulch

After planting, add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Straw, leaves, or grass clippings all work well as mulch.

Caring for your garlic plants

After planting garlic cloves, it is essential to care for the plants to ensure a healthy and bountiful harvest. Here are some tips on how to care for your garlic plants:

Watering

Garlic plants require consistent moisture to grow well. However, overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s crucial to find a balance. Water the plants deeply once a week, or more often in hot and dry weather. Avoid watering the leaves to prevent fungal diseases.

Weeding

Keep the area around the garlic plants free from weeds. Weeds can compete with the garlic plants for nutrients and water, which can affect their growth. Hand-pull weeds or use a hoe to remove them carefully.

Fertilizing

Garlic plants benefit from regular fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12, every four to six weeks.

Alternatively, you can use organic fertilizers such as compost or aged manure. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to excessive leaf growth but smaller bulbs.

Harvesting garlic

Garlic plants are ready to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow and dry out.

To harvest your garlic, carefully dig up the bulbs using a garden fork, taking care not to damage them.

Allow the bulbs to dry in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area for several weeks before storing them.

Frequently asked questions

How many garlic bulbs grow from one clove?

One garlic clove typically produces one garlic bulb.


Can you grow garlic from a clove indoors?

Yes, you can grow garlic from a clove indoors, provided that you have enough light and the right growing conditions. Garlic is a relatively low-maintenance plant that can be grown in a pot or container on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.

How long does garlic take to grow?

Garlic typically takes around 6 to 8 months to grow from a clove to a mature bulb, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

How much garlic should I plant per person?

The amount of garlic you should plant per person depends on how often you use garlic in your cooking. However, as a general rule, 10-20 garlic plants per person should produce enough garlic for most people.

Is garlic an annual crop?

Garlic is a perennial crop, meaning it can live for several years and produce multiple harvests. However, in most cases, garlic is grown as an annual crop, which means it is planted, grown, and harvested within a single growing season.