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How to Grow Garlic – Our Top 10 Tips

Drying homegrown garlicWe love to grow garlic, it’s an easy crop but does require a little bit of care to get the results you’re looking for. With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 tips for growing great garlic so without further ado, here we go:

1  Garlic for growing is very different from shop bought varieties as most supermarket garlic won’t be suitable for growing in Northern Europe. Make sure you buy high quality seed garlic rather than supermarket varieties.

Prepare your soil well. Garlic is easy to grow but it does like a good rich soil. Add plenty of well rotted garden compost to your soil before you plant. Plant in the sunniest spot in your garden.

3  Garlic needs a period of cold for about six weeks of at least below 10 degrees celcius. Plant too late in the Spring and the clove will grow but will never form a bulb of individual cloves. As a rule of thumb plant Autumn varieties between October and December. Spring types are planted between January and early April at the latest.

4  Hardneck or Softneck? Hardnecks grow a flower stalk and have a stronger flavour than more common softneck varieties. Softnecks are milder in taste and are the type available in most shops.

5  Break a full garlic bulb into the individual cloves. Don’t break up the bulbs longer than 24 hours before you want to plant and handle them with care to avoid bruising.

6  Plant 6 inches apart 3-4cm below the surface with the point end facing up. Keep the ends just below soil level as birds are liable to pull them up.

7  The largest bulbs grow from the largest cloves. The fatter cloves forming a circle around the inner ring are best, use the thinner internal cloves for cooking.

8  A sprinkle of wood ash or a dressing of well composted manure in February will give your garlic a Springtime boost.

9  The best garlic growing weather is plenty of moisture till mid June followed by drier weather towards harvest time. Water your garlic in a dry Spring.

10  You’ll know when it’s time to harvest your garlic but Hardnecks and softnecks are different. Hardnecks are ready when the leaves start to change colour and softnecks when the leaves wilt and lie on the ground.

For more detailed information on growing garlic including our video with Klaus Laitenberger see our Growing Garlic post here.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Catherine

      Liquid feeds are more suitable as a foliar feed for growing plants. I’d be more inclined to improve the soil using a bulky soil improver like envirogrind as this will provide a slow release of nutrients perfect for your garlic. If your want to feed you garlic once growing a light feed of potash (potassium) will help towards harvest time. Wood ash (not coal or turf) is high in potassium and is a handy free source if you burn wood at home.

      I hope this helps

  1. Caimin Gilmore

    Hiya Andrew,

    Would it not be feasible to plant some garlic bought from a vegetable or grocery shop if the garlic is from France or even Spain?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Caimin

      It’s always worth a go but I’d have the following notes of caution:
      You might get a lower yield from garlic more used to growing in cooler temperatures.
      You can’t be sure the bulbs are disease free and don’t want to introduce anything into your garden.

      In my opinion it’s pretty low risk so I’d give it a go but it won’t do as well as purpose grown seed garlic.

      I hope this helps


  2. Geri Shaw

    Hi guys:

    I’ve put all your lovely garlic into a bed and was wondering, would you recommend a top dresing of seaweed for overwintering or would that be too astringent?


    1. Andrew

      Hi Geri
      Apologies for the late reply here. A top dressing of seaweed would be an excellent idea as it will protect your soil. Gather seaweed as fresh as possible without cutting it from the rocks, after a storm is the time to visit the beach. If you are worried about salt your can give it a hose down before applying but there is far less in it then you’d think. I hope this helps.

  3. John Grant

    Don’t know how true this is but I have been told if garlic cloves are soaked in a solution of bicarbonate of soda ( breadsoda ) it moistens the clove and gives it a better start

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