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National Garlic Day

“The secret ingredient to every meal is love. And also garlic.”

Michael Sorrentino


Do you love garlic?

If so, you’re in great company with us!   Not only do we eat garlic in many forms, we also feed garlic to our livestock.   The chickens get crushed cloves and scapes as treats.   The sheep and goats occasionally get garlic added to their corn.   It’s a good thing I grow our garlic, because that would get expensive quickly!

Garlic is honestly one of the easiest, most low-maintenance crops in our backyard garden.   I set aside a few of our largest bulbs from the previous year’s harvest, and separate the cloves while leaving the paper skin as much in tact as possible.

Our main garlic stock originated from Johnny’s Seeds, and the variety is Music Garlic.    If during the year I end up purchasing other garlic varieties at our local farmer’s market, I will often save a bulb and plant it for a little variety!

How to prepare your garden bed for garlic

  • Pick a sunny spot with nice loose soil. Garlic likes being pampered!
  • Clear out any weeds and junk. Garlic hates weedy competition. Dig down 8-12 inches and loosen things up. Remove rocks and sticks.
  • Mix 1-2 inches of compost into the soil. Compost gives nutrients and moisture retention. Garlic loves that!
  • Smooth out the bed nice and flat. A raised bed helps drainage. You don’t want soggy garlic roots.
  • Make sure your garlic has decent drainage but consistent moisture. Happy roots, happy bulbs

How do you plant garlic in Kentucky?

I randomly pick a warm-ish day somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving for planting.  (November 15, 2023 was perfect!)   I fortify the soil with some compost and leaves (which are conveniently on the ground at this time of year!).  I saved these bulbs from our last harvest and took them right out to the garden for prep.

garlic bulbs in garden

You can see where I broke the cloves off, but left the papery skin.

planting garlic, National Garlic Day

And then I put the cloves in the ground about 2″ deep and 6″ apart, with the pointy end facing upward.

planting garlic, National Garlic Day

I then added in some compost, covered with soil and a heavy layer of leaves – and now one of the most important steps:  leave.them.alone.

leaves covering garlic bed


One of the nice things about getting garlic planted in the late fall is that nature will take care of the hard work of picking the best time to start sprouting!

Once the sun starts shining a little longer, and the days get a bit warmer… garlic sprouts are one of the very first signs of spring that we see in our garden!   If you peek through those leaves, you can see the green shoots popping up.   This photo was taken in mid February, 2024.

garlic sprouts in backyard garden, surrounded by leaf mulch


Growing and harvesting garlic

Growing garlic is super low maintenance, it just needs a little bit of love along the way:

  • Pull any weeds so they don’t crowd out the garlic
  • Water if things get dry
  • In late spring, add compost or organic fertilizer for an extra boost


Hardneck garlic varieties send up curly scapes in early summer. Snap those off to send energy to the bulbs.  But don’t just toss them in the compost bin!!   Scapes are delicious!


garlic scapes

  • Once the leaves start browning and falling over, the bulbs are ready to harvest. Carefully dig them up with a garden fork.
  • Brush off excess dirt but don’t wash them. Letting them cure helps them store better.
  • Cure the bulbs for 1-2 weeks in a warm, dry, shady spot. Trim off the roots and stems. Store in mesh bags in a cool place.

If you’re looking for the ultimate “leave it alone” vegetable to grow in your garden  – give garlic a try!   You can plant either in the fall, or in the spring after danger of frost has passed.



Can I grow garlic in containers instead of the garden?

You bet! Garlic does great in pots and planters. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. Use a quality potting mix and plant the cloves 4-6 inches apart and 1-2 inches deep. Place the container in full sun. Water when the soil dries out. Just be aware you may get smaller bulbs than planting in the garden. But still – fresh garlic is fresh garlic!

What’s the difference between softneck and hardneck garlic varieties?

The neck! Softnecks produce more flexible stalks you can braid together for hanging. Hardnecks have a stiff central stalk that shoots up a flower spike called a scape. In terms of flavor, hardnecks tend to have more intense garlic oomph while softnecks are more mellow. Both are delicious!

Can I plant garlic cloves from the grocery store?

You can try it! Grocery garlic often lacks the genetics best suited for your growing zone though. For best results, start with good seed stock from a nursery or even your Farmer’s Market!  But if you want to experiment with grocery garlic, go for it and see what happens!  Be sure you pick organically grown garlic, so you’re not also bringing extra chemicals to your backyard garden.  (This probably won’t be an amazing harvest, but it will be a fun experiment!)

What’s the ideal temperature for storing garlic?

Aim for a range of 55-65°F. Too warm and garlic can sprout early. Too cold and it becomes damaged. A cool, dark place like a basement or cupboard works well. Hang in mesh bags with good air circulation, and keep an eye out for mold. Break apart any bulbs starting to sprout.

How much garlic can I grow in a 4×8 foot raised bed?

That size bed can accommodate 50-100 plants spaced 4-6 inches apart. With proper care you can yield 5-10 pounds of garlic for every 50 plants! That’s a lot of garlic goodness from one raised bed. Grow more beds for a huge harvest!

Can I grow garlic in zones outside of hardiness zone 4-9?

It’s worth a try! Garlic is pretty adaptable. In warmer zones above 9, plant cloves in late fall through winter. In colder zones below 4, go with very early spring planting. Protect with mulch if needed. You may get smaller bulbs in extreme zones but fresh garlic is still possible!

What’s the best fertilizer to use when growing garlic?

You know our beds are fortified with manure from all our animals:  alpacas, sheep, goats, even the rabbits.   You could also use fish emulsion, seaweed extract, compost tea, worm castings, bone meal, and alfalfa meal. Side dress plants in early spring and again mid-season. Garlic is a heavy feeder, so nourish those bulbs!

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Taylor

    Today I learned!

  2. pedja

    Great article. I love garlic. This weekend we went to a festival dedicated to wild garlic. And we ate different dishes made with wild garlic. It was awesome.

  3. Karen

    We love garlic! Iā€™m not much of a gardener but your guide makes garlic sound and look like it would be super easy and low maintenance.

  4. Trisha

    This will be my third year growing garlic and I always wonder what took me so long to start! It’s so easy and I’m all for something I can just pop in the ground and not worry about it.

  5. Sandi

    National Garlic Day! Count me in. I love the smell of chopped garlic, sauted garlic, roasted garlic, garlic, garlic šŸ™‚

  6. Hari

    Love the tips for preparing the garden bed for growing garlic. Hearing for the first time that there’s a national day for this amazing ingredient.

  7. Lisa

    I have been inspired. I am ready to grow some garlic. I wonder if you can grow it in Utah?

  8. Catherine

    How cool! We grow garlic in our garden every year. I love having fresh garlic ready to use. What’s cooking without garlic? Thanks for sharing some great information and tips!

  9. Cindy

    I love cooking with garlic! It goes into almost all of my recipes so yay for Garlic Day! I’ve never tried growing it though.

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