Planting garlic

It seems that everyone I know has already gotten around to planting garlic. It was
warm” last Sunday (in the 50’s) and the ground had dried out a bit from the snow, so I had an opportunity to get mine in the ground finally.

These are the varieties I planted this year:

Softneck: Gilroy, Lorz Italian

Hardneck: Music, Spanish Roja, Susan Delafield, Yugoslavian, German Red, Romanian, Inchleum, and Siberian

(For a previous discussion about softneck vs. hardneck look here.)

I planted close to 200 cloves of garlic this year. Last October I planted about 120 cloves. I increased my garlic planting this year because I want to have enough extra heads to replant each fall from now on, so that I don’t have to buy more seed garlic (unless I want to try a new variety). We also needed more garlic to eat. This year’s harvest did not provide us with near enough garlic to last us a full year. We have already used up pretty much all of our hardneck, and only have the softneck left, so that means we only have about 1/4-1/3 of our garlic harvest left, and Its not even November yet. We will have to buy some garlic from the store, which I would like to avoid from now on if I can.

This is how I plant the garlic:

I dig up the area I want to be planted, and add compost and turn it in to make the soil very soft and loose.

I get out all the supplies I’ll need: garlic heads, cardboard spacer and flour, gloves, garden notebook to take notes.

Break up the garlic heads into individual cloves. Don’t peel the cloves. That skin protects the cloves from disease/rotting. If I break the skin while I’m separating the cloves, I set that one aside in a pile to either eat, or plant at the very end if I have room. (You can see one in the upper right corner of the box)

I use a homemade “seed spacer”, which is a piece of cardboard that I pierced holes into with a pair of scissors. It gives me a quick way to make perfectly staggered/spaced garlic about every 4-5 inches. The flour is sprinkled over the holes to mark the spot on top of the soil where each clove will be planted.

Use your finger to stab into the soft, loose soil on top of one of your floured spots.


Put the garlic clove in the hole, so that it will be 1-2 inches below the surface. Make sure the pointy side is up.

Its hard to show the garlic pushed down to a proper depth because when you squish it in the soft ground, the soil caves in around it and you can’t get a good picture. I tried.

This is the other section where I’m planting garlic this year, all marked out with the seed spacer dots.

After all the garlic is planted, I water the area and cover with several inches of leaves. On top if the leaves I put a flattened cage, or some thin branches, to help keep the leaves in place until the snow arrives.

Every year I take fastidious notes on which garlic varieties I plant and how many, etc. And then every July when I harvest, I pull everything up at once and never pay attention to yield, or differences in variety. I was tempted to skip making notes and being “organized” this year, but since I want to save some heads for next year, I figured I better try to actually harvest things methodically so I know what varieties performed best in my yard. I’m not the kind of person that can really distinguish garlic varieties by taste.  All garlic pretty much tastes the same to me. I just want to find a few varieties that grow well and keep using them.

If you’ve never grown garlic before, you should try it. Its easy to grow, and doesn’t take much space. You almost don’t have to water it if you have a wet spring. The first year I planted garlic, I just bought 2 extra heads at the grocery store and stuck the cloves in the ground. I don’t even think I covered them with leaves, and they grew just fine.


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3 Responses to Planting garlic

  1. I love your seed spacer and flour method. How ingeneous!

  2. Aurora says:

    The spacer is a great idea! I did it by eye last year and messed it up. It was a bad year for our garlic, so it didn’t matter so much. I haven’t got this years in yet. The garlic year we had was planted in early January, so there is hope yet!

  3. elvi miller says:

    I love your spacer idea! I found your website when I googled gardening with panty hose. Have been going back and reading your posts! Awesome job, by the way, on the blog.

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