Growing Garlic

The Yard Project is proud to help those who want to become less reliant on other entities (e.g. corporations, government, etc) by becoming more self-reliant. In the spirit of this goal we will be providing blogs on basic self-reliant practical applications. Today’s topic is about planting for the future. This blog was originally posted in October. We added some updated pics below to give you the full cycle of growth.

Nothing is a better example of action now for a better tomorrow, than growing garlic. It is a simple procedure that needs some forethought in order to reap benefits in the following year. Anyone in the US with a patch of dirt can grow garlic regardless of your zone. Really, one square yard (3ft by 3ft) can produce 90 garlic bulbs. Even city row houses or buildings have at least this amount of size in front; albeit, it may be belong to the entire building. Here are the easy steps.

1. Buy seed garlic bulbs – do not use the garlic bulbs you purchased at the supermarket since these have most likely been treated (yet another reason to grow your own) and will not sprout. You can most likely use bulbs you bought from the farmers market. Ask them if they were treated.
2. Separate the bulbs into individual garlic cloves. Do not peel the cloves. They need the skin for protection.
3. Clear out your patch of dirt by taking out any grass or weeds. Use a pitch fork or spade to loosen up the soil down to 6 inches. Mix in compost (your own or store bought).
4. Mark out holes 4-6 inches apart. Use a measuring stick or anything that will give you a good feeling for 5 inches. Some say 4 inches apart while others may say 6 inches. Garlic is incredibly forgiving. You could plant an entire bulb without separating the cloves and it will still grow (just not as well or big).
5. Make a two inch deep hole with a stick or the handle end of your spade. I initially was going to use the bulb planter in the photo, but realized it was not necessary.
6. Now this is important. Place the bulb pointy side up since this is where it will grow and you want to give it a direct route to the surface.
7. Cover with dirt and lightly pat down. Cover the rest with a few inches of straw or old leaves for winter cold protection. Alternatively, you could have a warm puppy guard them all winter long. We suggest former since puppies are most unreliable for such a task. :-)

It will take you 30 minutes tops to plant your garlic. It does involve planning and action. You need to plant in ground before the ground is frozen. Like most bulb plants, the cold helps generate the cycle.

In the Spring, you will get not one, but three products. First, the tops of the garlics (called garlic scapes) will shoot up and loop around. Cut them when they complete a second loop – great in stir fries or omelets. Second, when the leaves begin to wilt and turn yellow it is the sign your garlic is ready. Test one out by gently digging up. If the size fits you, then gather the rest. Third, garlic you don’t eat can be seed garlic for the following year. Harvested garlic should be placed in tray in a cool dark place with good air circulation. You want your garlic to dry out without exposure to the sun.

Enjoy, sit back and realize you just became a little more self-reliant.


1. Puppy and garlic have grown since this post was published in October. She has faithfully guarded the garlic. Every single planting sprouted beautifully.

2. The scapes are now on their second loop which means it is time to cut them.

3. Pay attention to the bottom leaves of the garlic plant, when the bottom set of leaves curl and die off, it is time to harvest the garlic (about mid-July in NH).

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