Growing Tutorials

Growing Garlic

Purple veined garlic early purpleGarlic is really pretty easy to grow as long as you take a little care will reward you with robust flavoured bulbs for the kitchen. Garlic doesn’t like a soil that’s too acid so if this is the situation in your garden you can add calcified seaweed to raise the PH. After planting keep your soil weed free and you should be able to grow fantastic garlic.

Have a look at our ‘How do I grow garlic’ video below filmed with organic expert Klaus Laitenberger and for a recap of information please see our written tips below.

View Our Onion Sets & Garlic Bulbs Here

Here’s a step by step guide to grow the best garlic:

Garlic Varieties (All except ‘Solent’ & ‘Early Purple’ are Irish grown.

Hardneck varieties produce a flower stem or ‘Scape’ which is delicious used in a salad or a stir fry. Hardnecks don’t store as well as softneck varieties but have a stronger more pungent flavour. Hardneck varieties include: Lautrec Wight.

Softneck garlic varieties don’t produce a flower stem and have a much longer storage life than hardneck varieties, they are the types more commonly available in shops. Softneck varieties include: Vallelado, Solent Wight, Early Purple Wight, Iberian Wight, Provence Wight, Tuscany Wight, Elephant Garlic

When to plant garlic
There are two planting times for garlic depending on the variety, Autumn/Winter and early Spring. Garlic seed bulbs need a period of cold below 10 degrees C for at least 6 weeks for the individual clove to form a bulb. Plant between October and early April with Autumn garlic generally producing a bigger and better crop.

Prepare your soil well. Mix in plenty of good compost or envirogrind to raise the fertility of the soil. Many gardeners will tell you to space your cloves at six inches between plants but if you like bigger bulbs you can increase the spacing to 20cm. Make sure you plant in the sunniest part of the garden as garlic need full sun to thrive. Only but bulbs from a good source as ordinary shop bought varieties may not be suitable or carry disease which can be introduced to your garden. If you have a wet site with heavy clay soil grow your garlic in raised beds to keep them for getting waterlogged.

Planting garlic clovesPlanting Garlic
Break up the bulbs into individual cloves when you plant them and be careful not to damage or bruise them. Place the cloves in the soil 3-4 cm below the surface with the pointy end facing up. Only plant the best cloves and discard and damaged, thin or small ones. Remember that garlic needs a period of cold, at least below 10 degrees for a period of 6 weeks for the bulb to split into individual cloves. This is why garlic needs to be planted in the Autumn or very early Spring.

Spacing should be 25cm between rows and 20 – 25cm between plants. If planting Elephant garlic increase the spacing to 3 ft between rows and 12 inches apart.

Homegrown garlic in a potGrowing Garlic in Pots
Growing garlic in containers is perfect for gardeners with limited space on a patio or balcony. The pot you use will need to be at least 8 inches in diameter and depth to allow for good root growth. You can use a good multipurpose compost mixed with an organic fertilizer which is high in potash.

Garlic bulbs should be should be split into cloves as above and planted at a depth of 2.5cm at a distance of 10cm apart. Ensure the compost mix is kept moist and not allowed to dry out in dry spells. I like to use a length of plastic pipe to ensure water gets to roots properly as containers can be prone to dying out from below.

Pots should be left outside as growing garlic indoors is not recommended and rarely produces good quality garlic bulbs.

You will need to give your garlic a little care during the growing season. If the year is dry (shouldn’t be a problem!) make sure you water them through dry periods. You should, however should stop watering in the weeks coming up to harvest. Carefully remove any weeds as they appear but be careful as garlic has a shallow root system which is easily damaged. We recommend adding sulphate of potash to your garlic in February which will give the plant everything it needs to grow big, tasty bulbs.

Basket of freshly harvested garlic bulbsHarvest
You will know when your garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellow-brown. You are better to harvest before the stalks fall over (unlike onions) as the bulb will open and will be prone to rot in storage. Dig your garlic carefully and remove any loose soil, if the weather is warm and sunny leave on the ground to dry otherwise bring indoors to an open airy place. Don’t remove the garlic stalks or foliage as you’ll need these to plait the garlic and to keep it fresh while drying. The longer the tops stay on the garlic the longer it will stay fresh.

  1. john markey

    when I harvested my garlic I took the long leaves from them, I notice that only now some of the garlic are beginning to rot why is this so

    1. Andrew

      Can I ask where you are storing your garlic? The fact that you cut the leaves off shouldn’t make any difference provided they were dried sufficiently in the first place.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Jack. Sorry for the late reply to your question. You can plant garlic to from late October to mid February so, yes, January is a good time to plant out in pots.

  2. Derek Wallace

    I read somewhere to cut the stalks as they take from the bulb. I did cut them a few weeks ago and now they are growing good and strong again. Should I leave them be. Thanks, Derek

    1. Andrew

      Hi Derek. I don’t know what part of the World you are in so don’t know what stage of growth your garlic is in but if it’s just starting off you should definitely NOT cut the leaves off. The green sprouts coming from the garlic bulbs are the leaves it needs to convert sunlight into energy to grow the bulb. When gardeners talk about cutting the stalks off they are referring to the ‘scapes’ produced by hard neck garlic which eventually produce a flower head. The scapes are different from the leaves as they are a single hard stem that grows higher than the leaves with a curled end that eventually straightens to hold the flower. If this is what you are referring to then it can be removed but if you mean the leaves then leave them be.
      I hope this helps.

  3. Paul Glavey


    I had some Garlic planted out doors in Nov 2019. Because of the heavy rains they’ve been over watered, leaves are turning yellow. Is there anything I can do to save them now?


    1. Andrew

      Hi Paul. I’m not being smart but the answer is really hope the rain stops (which doesn’t seem to be the case). If they are in raised beds you could put a cloche over them to divert excess water away but if in open soil there is not a lot you can do. If they were growing well before they had started to yellow they may still survive and produce a good enough harvest but this doesn’t look like a great year for garlic so far.

  4. Peter Kipletting

    Brilliant insight… Though I would wish to have a faster way maturing single clove.
    Apparently I hail from central Rift Valley province,in Kenya,where we enjoy relatively wormer clime for the most part.Our soils are volcanic.

  5. Owen

    I planted my garlic in early January in Ireland. Is it too early to harvest now in early June.
    We’ve had a lot of warm dry weather the last month.
    I notice some stalks are still green and fully upright. But some have fallen over, even though stalks still mostly green, only the lowest outer leaves are yellow.
    Any advice welcome 🙂

    1. Andrew

      Hi Owen. It would still be too early to harvest garlic so it is odd that the stalks have fallen over. Were they blown over in the recent strong wind? Have they been getting enough water?

  6. Owen

    Thanks for the response. Yes you are probably right about wind. It’s quite windy generally where I am and I can’t do much about that.
    I watered them about every 3 days in the recent weeks. Hope it was enough.
    Am I as well to just harvest the fallen ones or can they be revived with more watering?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Owen. Try propping them up with a few twigs and see how you go though once the roots have been damaged they likely won’t mature. You can use them as garlicky spring onions as they probably haven’t started bulking out yet.

  7. Fiona O Toole

    Hi I’m just wondering what is the earliest time from now that I can plant garlic in containers. Also how long is the growing period for garlic

  8. Amogelang Mothibi

    Good day.I have interest in growing garlic and our summer ranges between October to March,while winter commence from mid May to August.April and early mid May (with cooler temperatures)are transitional periods with September and October being transitional period (with high temperatures)
    When is the right time to plant garlic in my location
    Im based in Botswana(Southren Africa)

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