How to Grow Garlic ~ Everything you need to know from choosing your organic garlic planting stock to planting garlic in your own garden, when to harvest your garlic plants, curing garlic and even how your garlic harvest will store best at home. You will find that growing garlic is a true labor of love. We hope that you will enjoy growing your own garlic as much as we enjoy growing it for you! Thanks! From Hood River Garlic
Step 1. Choosing your garlic planting stock -Your seed stock is the most important facet of growing garlic. It all starts at the clove! Each individual garlic clove is a garlic "seed" and it will grow into a garlic bulb. Beginning with premium garlic planting seed stock will make a huge difference come harvest time. When choosing your garlic seed, plant the largest cloves of each garlic bulb, small cloves should be eaten. To separate cloves from the bulb, hold the bulb in one hand and use the other hand to break the cloves free of the bulb.
Step 2. Preparing your soil for planting garlic - Your soil is the next most important thing to growing terrific garlic. Organic garlic loves good drainage and loamy, fertile soil. Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost, manure and leaf mulch is highly recommended. Your soil should have a neutral ph level between 6 and 7. Helpful tip: Having a soil test down isn't necessary, but it is always a good idea. Soil tests can be done at your local ACE hardware.
Step 3. Planting Garlic - When to plant your garlic – We start planting our garlic around Halloween and continue planting garlic thru early November. This is a good guide line for most northern climates. Plant at the turning point of the seasons; with enough time for planting your garlic before the ground is frozen. In Hood River County, our first freeze date is October 23rd (see chart below). Ideally you would like your garlic in the ground before then. Try to allow three to four weeks for the garlic cloves to settle into their winter beds before a hard freeze, this will help the leaf development in the spring. Plant your garlic seed 5 to 6 inches apart with the tips up (basal plate down). Cover the top with 3/4 inch to 1 inch of amended, loose dirt and gently pat down the top layer of soil. In colder climates cover your organic garlic seed with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of lovely soil. For spring planted garlic, we recommend that you plant between February and no later than April 1st. Garlic planted in the spring will be ready to harvest just a few weeks after your fall panted garlic. We may have some garlic seed available after our own spring garlic planting is complete, so call to see if we have any seed stock available.
Step 4. Mulching and irrigating garlic- After you have your garlic planting stock in the ground, it is essential to cover it with a nice layer of mulch. There are many different types of mulch. Choose from aged straw, (careful no seeds) leaf mulch, grass clippings, organic compost, shredded paper. Mulch will protect your garlic seed in the cold winter months, prohibit weeds, keep the earth cool and moist during hot months and protect your topsoil from blowing away. Garlic likes to be kept evenly moist. Uneven watering may cause irregular shaped bulbs. This is where your good soil preparation and mulching becomes important. Water your garlic regularly during the leaf production stage. Apply some nitrogen rich foliage feed 2 to 3 times in spring.
Step 5. When to harvest garlic - Hardnecks will produce a flower or bulbil on a hard woody scape. These need to be removed so the plant puts energy into growing the bulb rather then the flower. Softnecks only produce a scape when the plant is under stress and this usually means the plant is ready for harvest. Stop watering when the plant starts to brown up, about two weeks before harvest. When the plant has three to four browned leaves it is ready for harvest. To avoid damaging the outer skins, always use a shovel to carefully remove the garlic bulb from the earth, don't just pull it out. Gently remove the dirt from the roots and outer skin, but don’t remove outer skin. It is best to harvest when the temperature is cool, either early morning or late evening. Click here to read more about how to harvest on our Garlic Calendar page.
Step 6. Curing and Storing Garlic - Bundle your garlic plants with twine and hang to cure. Choose an area with good circulation and out of direct sunlight. Helpful hint!... With huge varieties such as Artichokes, it is sometimes best to lay your garlic plants out on a table or piece of cardboard for a day or two before bundling garlic plants. This will help some of the moisture to dry out before bundling your garlic will take 2 to 3 weeks. You will know it is ready when you cut the first stalk, if garlic juice oozes from the stalk - it's not quite ready. Once garlic is cured, cut off stalk leaving 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Trim roots to 1/4 inch and gently brush off outer layer of dirt being careful not to peel off outer skin. The garlic stores best in a cool dry place, 50 to 60 degrees is ideal. A root cellar or cool basement is a good storage place. Do not store the garlic in a refrigerator. When choosing which garlic bulbs to eat first, always eat the largest bulbs first, the smaller garlic bulbs store better.
Freeze and Frost Dates for Hood River County. These dates are approximate dates only, based on County records.
Last Freeze date for Hood River County - March 26.
Last Frost date for Hood River County - April 26.
First Freeze date for Hood River County - October 23rd.
First Frost date for Hood River County - October 9th.