How to Grow Organic Garlic: MIgardener Growing Guide

9 comments by Halley -Author at MIGardener

Garlic planting season is fast approaching. No matter your region, homegrown garlic is much cheaper and far more nutritious. Grocery stores normally sell one variety of garlic that has already been in storage for up to 6 months before your purchase. Growing garlic at home guarantees the highest nutrient content and flavor for your money's worth. Here are a few key tips and tricks you will need to grow the perfect organic garlic this year!

Note: Hardneck and softneck varieties are differences based on their stem structure. Hardnecks will grow tall stems and flowers eventually, while softnecks will not produce flowers. These two types will also do well in separate climates. Softneck does better in warmer climates (climates without a frost) and hardneck does well in northern climates. 


Plant garlic 30-40 days before the first frost of the year. To find your last frost date, check out the Farmer's Almanac, or invest in a Clyde's Garden Planner. If you live in a region without frost, the process of vernalization will be the route you take. Vernalization is a word used to describe the mimicking of a frost to trick the garlic into being ready for planting. Leave your garlic in the fridge for 3-4 weeks before planting for the best results.

Soil Prep:

Mix pure compost with potting mix for rich, loose soil. Add a multipurpose fertilizer like Trifecta+ to add nutrients to the soil before planting.



Garlic is not a root vegetable. It is classified as an allium like onions, chives, and leeks. So, to get maximum production, garlic benefits significantly from a helping of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. One part fish emulsion to one part blood meal is our recommended mix. A serving of Trifecta+ is also a good source of nitrogen and phosphorus. As an all-purpose fertilizer and soil amender, Trifecta+ will cover all the bases. This will be your second helping of fertilizer to apply once your garlic has started growing to ensure green growth to aid with the production of heads.

Ph Level:

Between 6.0 and 7.5


To get the most out of your garden space, plant with an off-center spacing method. With 2" apart between each started, you should have a full bed in with triangle-shaped rows. Plant each clove with the base pointing down and the point up about 1 and 1/2-2"  deep. For a visual on this spacing method, check out this video.


6-8 hours of full sun. Garlic can withstand temperatures as low as -30°F in the winter and will begin to sprout and grow after the thaw between 32°F and 50°F.


Garlic requires even soil moisture. Applying a mulch layer after planting will help retain moisture and protect it from the snow. After the frost thaws, garlic needs approximately 1 inch of water per week. With less regular watering while they are sprouting, and more water later in the season as they become larger and the weather gets hotter.


To harvest garlic, simply pull it up by the stalk and prepare for curing + storing. Garlic takes about 100 days to mature fully, or 80 days after the frost is over.


The Curing Process:

After harvesting, the curing and storing process begins. Well, cured garlic can last up to 6 months or more. Here's how to get the best results. Clean off any access dirt with a dry cloth or scrub brush. We recommend not using water to keep moisture away from the garlic. Trim off the roots as close to the base as possible. The roots, if left long, will soak up any moisture in the air in an effort to sprout the garlic. Lastly, trim the neck of the garlic a minimum of 2" away from the head. This again is another way to keep moisture away from the cloves. Store in a container with good airflow, like a wicker basket, or braid before trimming necks.

grow garlic


For a garlic braiding tutorial, click here.

Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener


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  • Vivian

    Great info; everything I wanted to know about planting and growing garlic. Thank you!!

  • Michelle Clark

    In Northern Texas, zone 8a. Do you need vernalize softneck garlic? Our first frost is mid November. In the past, I typically planted garlic in October. I’d get some sprouts before first frost but then as temps dropped they stopped and restarted closer to last frost.

    If I do need to put the bulbs in Fridge, when do you recommend planting then?

    Thank you,
    Gardener hoping for bigger bulbs

  • Maria

    Hi, I just ordered garlic from you and I ordered softneck. Can I plant them the same way as long neck?

  • Charlie

    What is the rationale or experience that led you to recommend planting so early? The typical recommendation I have seen from garlic growers and agricultural extension offices is to target planting 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes solid. Is the timing you mention consistent with that for your location?

  • Judy Robinson

    Our garlic is being delivered today but we won’t be planting it until late October. How should we store it until then. We live in North Central Illinois zone 5b. Thanks.

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