How to Plant Garlic the Right Way

Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow in a home garden (making it fun for beginners to get started), but the sheer number of cultivars available (dozens upon dozens) keeps it exciting for even the most seasoned gardener.

Because of its pungency, garlic helps deter insect pests that are turned off by its smell. You can keep aphids, weevils, mosquitoes, mites, and Japanese beetles away simply by interplanting garlic with other edible plants.

If you're new to growing garlic—or maybe you're a seasoned gardener who wants to pick up a few new tricks—this growing guide will tell you everything you need to know about planting garlic.

Determine the right time to plant garlic.


Generally the best time of year to plant garlic is in fall (late September to mid October) because the plants need a natural dormant period that includes exposure to cold temperatures (a process called vernalization).


Prepare the planting site.

Garlic likes full sun and rich, well-draining soil (though it can tolerate many soil types). If yours is on the clayey side, add 2 to 3 inches of aged compost on top of the soil to help loosen it and improve soil structure.


Break up the bulbs.

Break your bulbs apart and pick out all the cloves that are firm and plump, leaving the papery wrapping on each clove as intact as possible.


Plant the cloves.

Dig a trench about 2 to 4 inches deep. (Warm climates can go as shallow as 2 inches, and cold climates should go up to 4 inches deep the farther north you are.) Plant each clove, root end down (and pointy end up), 4 to 6 inches apart with 6 to 9 inches between rows.


Water and mulch the bed.

Water your newly planted garlic bed to settle the soil, then cover with 3 to 6 inches of organic mulch (like straw, pine needles, wood chips, grass clippings, or shredded leaves).

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