When To Sow: November - January
Harvest: May - July
Germination: 7-14 days
All garlic is super easy to grown. Merely split it into individual cloves and plant each clove upright (i.e. with the flat base down) in well-drained soil at a depth twice their height. The ideal spacing between cloves is around 15cm/6”.
The best time to plant garlic is between Nov-Dec, but you can get away with planting as late as February. Keep in mind, though, that for garlic to grow at its best, it needs a period of colder temperatures, so Nov-Dec planted garlic will generally do better than spring-planted garlic. The later you plant, the more likely it will just give you one large monobulb (i.e. no separate, individual cloves). Either way, if you planted before March your garlic should be ready to harvest by mid-July.
To protect your cloves after planting, it’s often helpful to mulch. Fallen leaves or weed-free straw is ideal. Also, the more manure and/or organic waste you conditioned your beds with, the larger and happier the bulbs will be.
Note: Garlic can be planted as a perennial as well as an annual if you’re wanting it for greens. It will re-sprout annually. It’s also excellent for intercropping.
Garlic needs very little aftercare once planted. If you planted in soils rich with compost and/or well-rotted manure, your garlic should need very little feeding (if any). If your soil is not particularly fertile, side dress with compost February through April. Our wet climate generally provides more than enough water for garlic crops, so no extra watering tends to be necessary unless there’s a drought. (If there is a drought, however, don’t let your garlic dry out—irrigate accordingly.)
Otherwise, just keep your garlic bed weed free and nip off any flower buds that appear (to redirect energy to the bulbs). Keep the area weed-free until the foliage turns yellow in mid-summer.
How to Harvest Garlic
Garlic is ready to harvest when two or more leaves have withered each plant. Simply loosen the plants from the soil with a trowel and lift, being careful not to score the bulb itself. Let the garlic bulbs layout somewhere dry and warm for a day before hanging them. Once they’ve cured for a day, brush the dirt off of the bulbs and hang in a cool, dry place, in plaits if you wish.
Note: Don’t let the garlic stay in the ground too long after the foliage has withered—the bulbs may re-sprout and then rot when stored.
Cloves planted in late autumn will be ready late June through mid-July. Spring-planted garlic will be ready slightly later.
Note: You can keep your largest cloves as a seed crop for next year’s garlic!
How to Harvest Elephant Garlic
When you lift the bulbs they there may be numerous little rounds attached to the base of the bulb. If you peel the outer shell off of these and plant them, they will grow and form a clove which you can dig out the following year and plant again to get a full-on elephant garlic bulb (in effect the little rounds count as 2-year harvestable garlic bulbs). As a perennial: Elephant garlic does not have to be divided or harvested each year. If you leave it be, it will spread into a clump of multiple flowering heads. These clumps can be left as ornamentals and/or as pest deterrents. Eventually, though, they may become eventually overcrowded and need some thinning.
Garlic is beneficial to fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, and carrots. Avoid planting it with beans, peas, and other legumes, as it can stunt their growth.