How to Plant Garlic

(and Why It's Better to Plant Late Than Too Early)

If you're new to growing garlic—or maybe you're a seasoned gardener who wants to pick up a few new tricks—this growing guide will tell you everything you need to know about planting garlic.

Learn what the best types of garlic are for your climate, my 6 easy steps to planting garlic, and why it's better to plant a little too late than too early.

(Plus, what to do next summer so you get the best harvest possible.)

Determine the right time to plant garlic.


Generally the best time of year to plant garlic is in fall (late September to mid October) because the plants need a natural dormant period that includes exposure to cold temperatures (a process called vernalization).

Hardneck garlic, in particular, will only form bulbs and scapes if it’s had proper cold exposure. Without vernalization, some garlic plants will not divide, leaving you with rounds (single-clove bulbs). While the rounds are still edible, you’ll get more out of your crop with a fall planting.


Prepare the planting site.

Garlic likes full sun and rich, well-draining soil (though it can tolerate many soil types). If yours is on the clayey side, add 2 to 3 inches of aged compost on top of the soil to help loosen it and improve soil structure.


Break up the bulbs.

Break your bulbs apart and pick out all the cloves that are firm and plump, leaving the papery wrapping on each clove as intact as possible.


Plant the cloves.

Dig a trench about 2 to 4 inches deep. (Warm climates can go as shallow as 2 inches, and cold climates should go up to 4 inches deep the farther north you are.) Plant each clove, root end down (and pointy end up), 4 to 6 inches apart with 6 to 9 inches between rows.

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