Sunday, July 6, 2014

Growing Organic Garlic

It's that time to start thinking about GARLIC.  This is our second year of offering several varieties of Organic Garlic Seed at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  Pre-Orders of Garlic is still available for a limited time.  Orders ship out after September 19th.

Red Chesnok Garlic (hardneck)
Fall is the time to plant for best yields and highest quality bulbs. Generally plant in September–January. In very cold areas, plant by mid-October, and protect your crop with a thick layer of mulch such as straw. Expect to harvest it in June–July.  One lb of garlic seed equals approx. a 25' row with 4" spacing between plants. For most garlics, expect an optimum 10 lb yield for every lb planted.

Before we get started...A garlic Clove is a garlic SEED.

Rocambole garlic has wrappers that are typically reddish in color, such as Killarney Red.  However, color is not the only requirement for this category, as some varieties may be white or purple colored. Rocambole scapes are more tightly curled than other varieties.  Most rocambole varieties produce 8 to 10 cloves per head.


Softneck garlic, also called artichoke garlic due to their numerous cloves that give them an appearance similar to the “petals” of an artichoke head, is the most common garlic due to its excellent storage characteristics.  This is the kind you will find in grocery stores. 
Softnecks are the most heat tolerant of garlic, and have a sweeter, milder flavor than hardnecks.  If you’re looking to make garlic braids, this is the type to grow. 
Inchelium Red (softneck)

From The Old Farmer's Almanac,


  • Garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Plant in the fall and you'll find that your bulbs are bigger and more flavorful when you harvest the next summer.
  • In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant.
  • Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove.
  • Plant cloves about one month before the ground freezes. 
  • Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery.
  • Ensure soil is well-drained with plenty of organic matter. Select a sunny spot.
  • Place cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in their upright position (the wide root side facing down and pointed end facing up).
  • In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.


  • Northern gardeners should mulch heavily with straw for overwintering.
  • Mulch should be removed in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. (Young shoots can't survive in temps below 20°F on their own. Keep them under cover.)
  • Cut off any flower shoots that emerge in spring. These may decrease bulb size.
  • Weeds should not be a problem until the spring. Weed as needed.
  • Garlic requires adequate levels of nitrogen. Fertilize accordingly, especially if you see yellowing leaves.
  • Water every 3 to 5 days during bulbing (mid-May through June).
  • A note on garlic scapes: Some folks love cooking the scapes (the tops of hardneck garlic). Whether you trim the scapes or let them keep growing is your preference. We like to stir fry scapes the way we cook green beans—similar with a spicy kick!

 From Organic Gardening,

Planting Garlic: Step 1
Break a garlic bulb apart into individual cloves, being careful to keep the papery skins covering each clove intact. Then fill a quart jar with water and mix in 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed. Soak the cloves in this mixture for 2 hours prior to planting to prevent fungal disease and encourage vigorous growth.

Planting Garlic: Step 2
In the meantime, prepare your bed for planting. Garlic grows best in rich, well-drained soil that is free of weeds. Dig a furrow about 3 inches deep. Place the presoaked cloves into the furrow, spacing them 6 to 8 inches apart. Be sure the flat root end is down and the pointy end is up.

Planting Garlic: Step 3
Cover the cloves with 2 inches of soil and side-dress the furrow with compost or scratch in granulated organic fertilizer. Water the bed in well and cover it with 6 to 8 inches of straw mulch. You should see shoots poking through the mulch in 4 to 6 weeks. The garlic stops growing in the winter months and resumes in spring.

 THAT my friends is how it's done!  Are you ready to plant organic garlic?

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Laurunh said...

Mary, this is coming at a perfect time! I am looking to plant my first batch of garlic this fall! Thanks so much for the tips. SO glad you linked up to Motivation Monday this week!

Dawn Yoder said...

Thanks for sharing and linking to From the Farm blog hop! This post was chosen as a favorite, too!

Shari Eckstrom said...

Great information. I have never soaked mt garlic before. Going to try this technique. Thanks for sharing.

Krystyna Thomas said...

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I selected your post as my favorite for this week's From the Farm Blog Hop. Thanks for linking up! - Krystyna

Rachele Lynn said...

This is such a great post - I actually wouldn't have thought of this otherwise, thanks for all the wonderful information!

Cynthia Landrie said...

I love cooking with garlic. These are great tips for gardening. Thank you for linking at the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you again next week.

Barb said...

Just wanted to let you know we’re featuring your post this week on Motivation Monday! Have a great week!

Ricki M said...

Thanks for sharing at The Weekend Social, I'm looking forward to seeing you again next Thursday at 9pm EST at for another installment of The Weekend Social.

Nancy Wolff said...

Great post, so glad you shared it on the HomeAcre Hop, I'm going to feature your post tomorrow! Hope you come back and share another wonderful post!
The Home Acre Hop

Heidi Ramsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi Ramsey said...

I am featuring you too! Congratulations :)

Cynthia Landrie said...

This is some great information. I won't even tell you how many of the dishes I make have garlic in them! Thank you for linking at the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you again next week.

Vicki said...

Thanks for linking up at the Natural Living Monday and Healthy Meal Planning Linkup! I am so excited for your post as I have been trying to do garlic for awhile...glad to know I can do it over the winter!