How To Easily Grow and Harvest Garlic

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When I first started gardening and growing most of my vegetables and herbs at home, I found myself getting excited to grow the things I was so used to buying in the store, like fresh garlic bulbs. I never realized how easy it was to grow and harvest garlic myself and will never look back.

Don’t you enjoy using the freshest and most flavorful ingredients possible? It’s insane how much more delicious herbs and vegetables taste when they come from my very own backyard garden.

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Everything from romaine lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes and basil are all phenomenally more fragrant after picking them fresh rather than from the store.

As I try and use fresh produce and herbs in all of my cooking whenever possible, I think of things that I can try and grow every year that I will always use. My kitchen stays fresh and I keep learning, so it’s a win win!

Why You Should Grow Garlic

No, buying fresh garlic isn’t expensive and you won’t be saving tons of money growing your own heads of garlic.

What you will be getting from growing your own garlic is the freshest, boldest flavor, along with the peace of mind knowing exactly where your beautiful little pungent bulbs came from.

In fact, many herbs and vegetables aren’t going to be extravagantly more expensive when you buy them in the grocery store during their peak season.

However I truly do get satisfaction in knowing that there are no chemicals, questionably dirty hands, pesticides, unsanitary shipping methods, or any other ‘ignorance in bliss’ method in which we receive our food from the supply chain.

I mean, this is the whole point of growing your own garden, right?!

Now that you are so well informed as to why I prefer to grow my own garlic at home, here are a few tried and true methods on how to grow garlic indoors or outdoors. It’s also super easy once you learn how to harvest garlic and how to store it.

Now get to growing, and rewrite your recipe cards, to include fresh garlic any chance you can. It’ll be a game changer, I promise!

how to grow garlic

When to Plant Garlic

You can actually plant garlic during the spring and the fall. While you will receive somewhat of a harvest from both planting times you are still encouraged to plant during the fall season well before first frost.

You will know when it’s time to plant your garlic bulbs when you’re about 6-8 weeks ahead of any ground freeze or expected low dips in temperature. 

You may be thinking you can be savvy by replanting your garlic purchased from the grocery store. I mean how many times has that rogue garlic in the back of the fridge sprouted some greens, right?!

While this will yield some results, the best method for getting the highest quality produce is by planting garlic bulbs specifically for planting. You won’t be buying seeds but an actual bulb. 

Where to Plant Garlic

Plant your garlic bulbs in your garden a few weeks before the last frost in a sunny location with nutrient rich, well-drained soil. It needs to be well draining soil or you will risk root rot.

It will be easier to pick if you plant them about 6 inches apart, in a straight row. You don’t need to plant the bulb too deep, but aim for approximately 1 inch and then cover loosely with soil.

To ensure you have an ongoing moisture delivered to your garlic while growing, cover with ground mulch. This will ensure insulation as well as moisture for the plant as the ground freezes and winter sets.

By the time the ground thaws and as the soil softens again, you will see your garlic growing to maturity by summer. Depending on your location, it may even be have your garlic bulbs sooner!

Where to Plant Garlic – Option 2

If you know you do not have well draining soil, there are some quick tricks you can try. First, you will need to get a pot, or preferably a garden trough.

You will want to make sure you have holes at the bottom of the pot or trough before putting anything in it. Once you confirm there are holes, about the size of a dime, you can start adding your pieces.

Now, you will need to add into your above-ground garlic garden, a layer of rocks or pebbles. You will need enough to just cover the bottom of the surface. Then, place a thick layer of garden soil on top of the rocks.

After that, sprinkle another light layer of rocks to the top of the soil and then cover with a final layer of soil. This trick will get you the ideal soil type and allow the garlic to grow to perfection.

When to Harvest Garlic

If you planted in the fall and are ready for harvesting in the spring, once you see green leaves. You will know when to harvest garlic bulbs when you will be to able to pull the garlic gently out of the ground with a little support from a shovel.

You’ll know they are ready when the greens start to fade and turn yellow or brown. Lift it gently out of the ground and not too long after it seems ready.

This is for two reasons: avoid bruising as it will store better if not bruised and so it doesn’t open any further, also so it stores better.

Storing Garlic After Harvest

It is best to store your garlic after harvesting it from your garden at room temperature. Keep your garlic harvest in a cool, dry place on newspaper or paper towels away from the sun. This will allow it to dry a bit, giving you that paper-like skin covering.

Once dried after about 10 days, keep the garlic stored in similar conditions. You can then keep the dried garlic for up to eight months! I like to keep my final heads of garlic in a paper bag in the pantry that sits in my hallway.

It doesn’t get direct sunlight from the windows and is nicely placed near a ceiling fan. This means, no moisture or condensation, or overheating of the space. It’s also a dark spot so it’s really great for storing food. I love it!

How to Grow Garlic Indoors

While you may not be able to harvest a full garlic bulb indoors, you can still reap the benefits of growing and harvesting garlic at home for other purposes. For this, you will be growing garlic greens, otherwise known as garlic scapes!

You can re-use garlic that you’ve grown or purchased for this one. You will need to plant 4 or 5 cloves in a large pot with a general purpose garden soil. Then, you will need to place the pot in a very well lit, sun soaking spot of your home.

After planting, water lightly and don’t let the soil become too dry. You will start to see garlic greens sprout within 10 days.

You can then cut the garlic scapes and use them for cooking! The garlic greens can be used raw, in cold salads, or they can be used in hot dishes that need to be cooked.

Garlic scapes have a great onion type flavor that can kick up a dish nicely, with a less pungent flavor than traditional garlic. Substitute onions, and other lightly flavored onion varieties like scallions and shallots, with the garlic greens, which is a wonderful alternative!