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Garlic 101 - How to Plant Garlic

Updated: Dec 5, 2021

How to Plant Garlic?

  • Before cracking the garlic, make sure you have prepared the beds for planting. Watch our YouTube video on How to Prepare Raised Beds for Planting.

  • Break the garlic bulb into individual cloves. Check out our YouTube video for tips on How to Crack Garlic Efficiently.

  • Plant the cloves, not the whole bulbs. Ideally, the pointed part of the cloves should face upwards.

  • But if you happen to plant it upside down, the garlic clove will still grow, but with a u-shape stem.

  • The papery wrapper has fallen off? No worries. Use any cloves that are damaged or without wrappers for cooking. Do not plant cloves that are broken or split as they will be susceptible to diseases.

  • Gardening books typically recommend spacing cloves six inches apart per row. But we have had success in four inches spacing within the rows. Bigger spacing helps if you have to hand weed by using a hoe.

  • Planting the clove about three inches deep is the rule.

  • See the diagram below for Recommended Planting Width for Garlic.

  • Check out our YouTube video on Planting Garlic in Raised Beds to see how we do it.

  • The term seed garlic is simply fresh garlic harvested this year. It is great to buy local garlic from the farmer's market. But do not ever use supermarket-bought garlic for planting. See my article on Should You Plant Garlic Bought from Supermarket.

  • The most popular garlic variety is Music. It is grown everywhere now (almost 90% of Ontario garlic growers grow mainly Music) because it copes well with our Canadian winters. But look for East European types like German Mennonite, German Red (or White), Duganski or Siberian. I recommend these simply because the bulbs are bigger, and the individual cloves are also easier to peel for cooking.

  • Make trenches or individual holes about 3-4 inches deep for planting cloves. Fertilize the trench or hole, then drop each clove in. Space the garlic cloves 4-6 inches apart within each row. Space the rows at least 6 inches apart or more. Cover the cloves with soil. Water deeply if your soil is dry (especially for sandy loam soil), otherwise you can leave it.

  • Mulching is optional. If you are going to mulch, I suggest mulching after the first hard frost, especially if your garden or farm has mice or voles. Early mulching will keep the ground from freezing, and the little critters will move in (dig under) and winter under the mulch.

  • No worries if the winter is very mild and you spot garlic shoots popping up in December. Just cover them with more mulch. Then forget all about your garlic cloves until next spring.

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