Growing Garlic

Ajo Rojo garlic clove

I love garlic in everything. There’s no better smell in the kitchen than the smell of garlic (and onions!) sauteed in olive oil and wafting through the air.

So of course, growing garlic — lots of it — was definitely in the plans for this season.

I found organic seed garlic online from Gourmet Garlic Gardens and drooled over all the different varieties of garlic available. Who knew there was so much more out there than the generic white bulbs sold at the supermarket? Seed garlic is the actual garlic bulb, not a typical “seed” from a flower. The cloves are the seeds themselves, and the largest cloves from the healthiest bulbs are used to propagate new garlic plants.

I chose Ajo Rojo (a spicy Creole) and Siciliano (a softneck Artichoke) — both well-suited to SoCal’s warm winter climate. Ajo Rojo is an especially striking garlic, wrapped in a pinkish-burgundy skin, with a pungent, spicy flavor. I smell Ajo Rojo fries in my future!

The best part about growing garlic is how foolproof it is:

  1. Choose a sunny spot in the yard with good drainage.
  2. Separate the cloves. Choose the biggest cloves for planting, and use the smaller ones for cooking.
  3. To plant a row of garlic, dig a shallow trench about 3 inches deep using a trowel.
  4. Plant the cloves individually, about 6 inches apart, with the pointy tip facing upward. They should be 1 to 2 inches below the surface.
  5. Cover with soil. Water. Within a week, new sprouts will appear.

That’s it. No tiny seeds to lose or blow away, no delicate seedlings to transplant. You don’t even have to peel the cloves, just leave the wrapper intact and plant the whole clove. If I was a farmer, I would farm garlic, hands down.

I recommend at least 6 inches of plant spacing to give the garlic enough room to breathe. Since garlic is planted in the fall with rainy winter and spring weather ahead, you want plenty of air circulation between the plants. Wet leaves, combined with high humidity and overcrowding, can lead to a fungal disease called garlic rust.

I usually end up with more cloves than I have room for in my allotted garden plots, so I’ll just push a clove into the ground wherever I see an open space among my other vegetables. Interplanting garlic with your crops can help repel common garden pests (such as aphids and Japanese beetles) that are turned off by the strong aromatic.

In warm climates, garlic planted in fall (no later than October) will usually be ready for harvest in late spring or early summer. Cooler areas will have garlic maturing through the summer months, with harvests in July.

Planting garlic cloves

Planting garlic cloves

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October 26 2010      6 comments     Linda Ly
Hierbas   Jardín   Semillas

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  • Jai Roberts

    I wish we could grow garlic here on Kauai but it doesn’t bulb up. We just get piles of greens which is good but I would love to be able to get big heads. I love garlic too and it is so healthy.

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  • Sandy Stites

    I love garlic as well! Too bad I waited until late Spring to remember planting them. Next season fo sho! Fresh garlic is sweeter and spicier at the same time. A wonder crop! Loved your post, pictures and easy to follow instructions!

    • Linda Ly

      Thanks Sandy!

      I have the first harvest curing right now, I can’t wait to make my first roasted garlic!

      After you pull up your springtime garlic… If you end up with “round garlic” (in which the bulb didn’t have enough time to divide into cloves) you can actually save that to plant later in the fall, and the round garlic will continue to grow and then divide itself. You might even get bigger garlic since you’re planting a larger clove.