Garlic Cloves on a table
Container Gardening,  Gardens

The Secret to Planting Garlic from Cloves

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Garlic is a kitchen staple in our house!! and I love growing it because it is so easy to grow. I’m going to share with you how we grow garlic. These are all of our secrets for growing garlic so that you don’t have to purchase any garlic from the grocery store for an entire year. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and we are going to dive right in.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Let's dive right into all of these secrets about growing amazing garlic!!

Plant Garlic in the FALL

The first secret to growing amazing garlic is to plant in the fall. You can plant garlic in the spring but your bulbs of garlic are not going to be as big. Hard neck garlic will have a very hard time sprouting in the spring because garlic needs a cold period before it will sprout. You want to plant your garlic in the FALL a couple of weeks before your first hard frost, by planting the garlic in the fall you are letting nature provide that cold period that garlic needs in order to sprout and grow really large bulbs.

What other bulbs should you plant in the fall? Check out Planting Daffodils.

Grow the Right Type of Garlic

The second secret when it comes to growing amazing garlic in your backyard is that you want to grow the right type of garlic. You want to buy garlic from a reputable supplier. Buying garlic from the grocery store and planting it is not enough, just because it’s certified organic is still not enough. Garlic that’s come from the grocery store and is then planted in your garden can have disease. If you plant that in your garden and the disease gets into your soil you’re not going to be able to plant anything in that spot for years and years. You’ve basically contaminated your soil and it’s no longer going to be usable. Which is why you want to make sure that you buy garlic from a reputable place.

We buy our garlic from Seeds Now. We have bought garlic from there for a couple years and we absolutely love it. The cloves come big and plump and ready to go. It also comes really fast.

Hard Neck or Soft Neck

Before we move on to the next secret I want to make a quick note about hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. Most often you are going to find that softneck garlic is what gardeners are planting and that is also what people are buying at the grocery store. That’s because softneck garlic is easier to grow in climates that don’t get a true winter. I’m talking like freezing cold for days and weeks on end. So if you are in zone six or higher I highly recommend you grow softneck garlic just because it’s easier to grow and it will be just cold enough to have the garlic sprout.

Now if you are in zones five or lower grow hard neck garlic. The colder winters will give your garlic that cold period it needs before sprouting. We live in zone 7a so we grow softneck garlic. We have had no problem with it, we are pretty apt at growing it. I have seen some gardeners that do grow hardneck garlic in zone 7 and have had success. We have not tried it. Maybe in the next couple years we will try it. 

For now we will stick with softneck garlic, it works great for us and it serves all of our purposes. I suggest really taking a look at your zones to determine if you’re going to grow hard neck or soft neck garlic. Note that some say that hardneck garlic has a deeper flavor. You just have to experiment with it and see what grows best in your zone and what you prefer.

garlic growing in the ground

Plant Larger Cloves

My next secret to planting amazing garlic and getting an amazing garlic harvest is to make sure that you are planting large cloves. When you order your garlic and even when you save garlic cloves from last years harvest you are going to get some smaller cloves. You can definitely plant them just know that they are not going to grow as big as the bigger cloves. You want to make sure that you’re planting the larger cloves in order to get a larger harvest of garlic.

Amend the Soil

It is fall you can see here in my garden that things are starting to die off. It has been a long and tiring gardening season but when planting your garlic you want to make sure that you enrich the soil. I know you’re tired and you just want to plant the garlic and be done but I promise that the little bit of extra time it takes to enrich your soil will make your garlic harvest bigger and better!! We enrich our soil with compost and then we also use an all-purpose fertilizer. We prefer Epsoma Plant-Tone, just to give everything a nice little dose of nutrients and to keep it going.

Give the Cloves Some Space

My next secret when it comes to growing garlic is to make sure that you are giving your garlic enough space to grow. You want to place your garlic about four to six inches apart, this is going to allow the garlic to get nice and big. It’s going to allow it to send down really nice roots and soak up all of those great nutrients that you already put in your soil. By spacing them farther apart you will get bigger bulbs and bigger cloves of garlic in the end.

garlic growing in the ground turning yellow

How to Plant Garlic

Before we move on to the next secret I wanted to tell you guys a little bit about how we plant our garlic. Garlic is one of those plants that you plant in the fall but you’re not going to harvest it until June, so what we do is plant our garlic in grow bags. This makes it so that we don’t have to have a permanent spot for the garlic in the garden. It also allows us to move the garlic around because garlic wants full sun so we can very easily move them based on what the sun is doing. And what the weather is doing, if it’s getting too cold we can move them up against the house for a day and we can then move them back into full sun.

If you are looking for an easy way to grow garlic that is more flexible I highly suggest these grow bags. We got these from Amazon, you can check them out HERE.

In the grow bags I plant in a circle instead of a row allowing me to plant more. When planting make sure the pointy side is up and the flat spot is down. I plant our cloves about one to two inches deep.

Give Them Some Water

My last secret for you when it comes to growing garlic is to make sure that it gets enough water, even when you plant it in the fall you want to make sure that your garlic is getting about one inch of water a week just to make sure that those cloves are getting nice and plump and ready to sprout. Make sure that you keep your garlic watered until it freezes, then once it freezes take a break from watering. Start watering again once it gets warm in the spring. Make sure that you continue to water!!!

If you’re looking for an easy way to test if your soil is moist enough stick your finger in it, if it is wet to your second knuckle you are perfect. If it starts to get dry add some water to it. So my last secret for you is to make sure that you give your garlic enough water.

There you have it, all of our secrets for growing garlic right in your backyard garden. Garlic is so easy to grow and you will have more than enough garlic. If you want to know more about growing garlic be sure to join our Growing Guides Vault.