Garlic, how to grow huge and healthy heads


Garlic is a perennial vegetable spice, a must-have in the vegetable patch. It craves sun.

Key Garlic facts

NameAllium sativum

Height – 12 to 40 in (30 to 100 cm)
Climate – temperate
Exposure – full sun

Garlic bulbs are a common condiment in cooking. Their taste and spicing abilities are unmatched and beloved by many!

Planting garlic

First of all, purchase strands of garlic that are certified to be with neither nematodes (roundworm) nor virus.

How to plant garlic

How to plant garlicWhen selecting the cloves, plant those that are around the outside of the head instead of the inside ones because they are larger and more hardy.

You can use store-bought cloves intended for cooking, if the label says they are virus-free.

Start with digging one or more furrows an inch (a couple centimeters) deep.

Place furrows at a distance of around 8 inches (20 cm).

  • Place the cloves an inch (a couple centimeters) deep, with the pointed tip facing upwards.
  • Set the cloves at least 12 inches (10 cm) apart to give them space to grow.
  • Cover with light soil and then water regularly.
  • Garlic requires a lot of sunlight.

Be careful! Garlic doesn’t like waterlogged soil. If this is the case, amend your soil with sand.

When to plant garlic

Traditionally, white and purple garlic is planted in fall and pink garlic is planted at the very beginning of spring.

It is best to plant cloves (small secondary bulbs) in fall (October-November) if your soil is well drained, otherwise wait for the beginning of spring.

  • For areas with rather mild climates, you can even start planting your cloves early January or February.
  • If climates are a bit harsher, sow white garlic in fall.
  • For climates that are a milder, plant purple garlic also in fall.

When to plant pink garlic

Pink garlic is planted at the end of winter in climates that are mild, and at the beginning of spring in other areas.

Pink garlic is an early variety, ready for harvest in spring.

Garlic companion vegetables

Garlic LOVES growing together with red beet, chamomile, carrot, celery, strawberry plant, lettuce, leek and tomato.

Garlic DREADS sharing space with asparagus, cabbage, broad bean, bean and pea plants.

Caring for garlic

Garlic is quite easy to care for and requires very little care as it grows. The following best practices will help you have a better harvest, though.

Garlic growing careWhen the young plants start growing out of the soil, clean around them on a regular basis to remove weeds. Also, help water and air penetrate the ground by breaking up the soil crust.

  • Water in summer when hot or in case of dry spells.
  • Garlic hates excess water, so never drown the bulbs.
  • Hoe the rows and remove weeds as they appear.
  • Stay on the lookout for onion fly and for leek moth.
  • Adding straw mulch means you won’t need to hoe and water as often.

Another summer visitor will lay its eggs on garlic stems… and caterpillars will start chomping down on them as soon as they hatch! The culprit is a large white butterfly.

Harvesting garlic

First leaves appear around 1 month after sowing. They’ll get more numerous as cloves form underground.

Garlic harvest timeWhen bulbs reach an honorable size and seem to be well-formed (June to July depending on the chosen variety), that is the time to harvest your garlic! Pull one or two out to tell, you can’t really know until you unearth them.

Before harvesting, remember to tie stems that are beginning to turn yellow into a knot. This stops them from growing and forces sap and nutrients to gather in the head of garlic, making it fatter.

  • Harvest in summer, generally June-July.
  • If the soil is hard, work early morning or use a broadfork.
  • Before stowing the garlic away, dry it off in the sun for a few days.

Garlic harvestAfter that, clean it and keep it in a dry, ventilated and rather cool spot.

Note that it is also possible to harvest garlic in spring when still green, usually in May, and to eat bulbs and leaves alike. Bulbs won’t keep so it’s for immediate consumption.

All there is to know about garlic

Cloves of garlic ready for plantingNative to Central Asia, garlic is a condiment with long, flat leaves that shoot up from the base and produces white to light pink flowers.

It has been used for millennia to spice up dishes in most parts of the world.

It has a capacity to add taste to many dishes. Moreover, it is an antiseptic, stimulating and even boasts aphrodisiac properties, nothing less!

Garlic is part of the same family as shallot, leek and onion.

Health benefits of garlic

Flowering garlicGarlic has many health benefits and therapeutic properties and it has been used for a long time to cure many ailments.

Indeed, garlic is both tonic and antiseptic, it helps fight hypertension and rheumatism. It even joins in on fighting cancer.

It also is an ally in fighting certain garden diseases such as peach leaf curl, either by planting it nearby or used in a garlic decoction.

Smart tip about garlic

In spring, remove weeds around garlic because feeling crowded really slows its growth.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Mary Slater, F. Delventhal, CC BY-SA 2.0: Crispin Semmens; depositphotos: shkolnica, Viktor108; Pixabay: Henryk Niestrój, Monika Neumann, mrninko