There are two methods to grow your own garlic. The first method is to cultivate garlic from garlic bulbs and cloves. The second method is to cultivate garlic from garlic seeds and flowers. If you have a vegetable garden and wish to grow your own garlic, you can use high-quality garlic bulbs from a farmers market or organic garlic producer. After you have grown a crop of garlic from garlic bulbs that have flowered, you can harvest the seeds from the flowers to grow in your garden next season. Here are directions for both methods:
Prepare the Soil - Garlic grows best in full sun in well-drained soil. Six weeks before you want to plant your garlic cloves, till the soil, break up any hard lumps, and discard any rocks. Mix the soil with composted fruit and vegetable scraps, grass cuttings, or other plant cuttings from your garden. Mix sand into your soil until it is loamy. You can determine if your soil is loamy if you can form it into a ball and it holds its shape but is easily broken apart with your fingers.
Prepare the Garlic Cloves - Before planting your garlic cloves, clean and prepare them as follows:
- Select large garlic bulbs without any visible bruises, mold, or mildew.
- Wash your garlic bulbs in cold water to remove any dirt or dust.
- Soak the garlic bulbs overnight in a one-gallon container filled with clean water and 1 tablespoon of a liquid fish emulsion as a fertilizer. Fish emulsion is available at any home and garden supply center.
- Remove the soaked garlic bulbs from the soaking container.
- Separate the cloves of garlic, making sure that you do not damage or remove the base of the garlic bulb that remains on each clove.
Plant The Garlic Cloves - Till your garden soil again to make sure that it is soft and loamy, then plant your garlic cloves as follows:
- Dig a small hole with a chopstick that is approximately 2" to 3" deep.
- Plant a prepared garlic clove so that the base of the clove is pointed down and the top portion of the garlic clove is pointed up. Cover your planted cloves with soil.
- Move laterally about 8" and plant another garlic clove and cover it with soil.
- Continue to do this until you have planted all of your garlic cloves and they are evenly spaced about 8" apart.
- Mulch garlic plants with a layer of straw, hay, or dried garden leaves.
- Water garlic plants lightly every few days and allow the soil to dry between waterings.
- Weed garlic beds whenever weeds appear.
- Feed garlic plants once a week with vegetable fertilizer or fish emulsion solution.
Harvest Your Garlic - When your garlic plants have fully grown, sprouted a garlic flower, and the lower leaves start to turn brown, you can harvest your garlic as follows:
- Cut off the garlic flower and about 12" of stalk from each garlic plant and set aside.
- Carefully loosen the soil around your garlic plants and dig them up.
- Harvest your garlic bulbs with leaves still attached.
- Store your garlic bulbs for several weeks to a month or more by braiding the garlic leaves together to form a long garland and hanging it in a cool dry place.
Store Your Garlic Seeds - Gather the garlic flowers from your garlic plants and store as follows:
- Separate the garlic seeds from the garlic flowers.
- Soak the seeds in a bleach water solution for 30 minutes (1 teaspoon of bleach to 2 cups of water).
- Allow to dry and store them in a cold refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks.
- Plant seeds in individual small pots and allow them to sprout. This can take from 2 weeks to 2 months for each plant.
- Plant outside in your garden when weather conditions permit.
Check online to see your plant hardiness zone. Plant garlic seeds during a time when your location is safe from freezing temperatures and snow. By starting with garlic bulbs and cloves and ending with garlic flowers and seeds, you have completed both methods of growing your own garlic. Get seeds or bulbs from a supplier, like Keene Garlic.