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How to Grow Garlic: 10 Tips for Growing Garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, and learning how to grow garlic is simple. Even better, once you’ve grown it, you can regrow garlic year after year from your own bulbs

Keep reading for tips for how to grow garlic in any climate, including hot climates like the low desert of Arizona.

How to Grow Garlic

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10 Tips for How to Grow Garlic


1. Choose the best garlic variety for your climate

To grow garlic successfully, it is important to choose the variety best-suited to your climate.

Hardneck garlic

Hardneck varieties of garlic are cold-hardy and a good choice for those in cold climates. This type produces a flower stem or “scape” which must be removed for bulbs to fully form. The scape is edible and delicious. 

Hardnecks do not store as well as softneck varieties. 

How to grow garlic

Softneck garlic

Softneck varieties are the best types to grow if you live in a warm climate (like the low desert of Arizona). Softneck types store well and are often braided for storage. The flavor may be less intense than hardneck types. 


2. Plan ahead and order garlic early

When it is time to plant garlic, many growers are often already sold out. It’s best to plan ahead and order garlic months before it is time to plant. 

  • If possible, look for a local grower; they will sell varieties well-suited to your climate.
  • Check the ship date of whoever you order garlic from to ensure they ship in time for your preferred planting date. (Note the time needed for vernalization of hardneck varieties in warm climates — see below). 
  • Many companies begin selling garlic in May and are often sold out by August. Plan ahead and order early. 

I’ve had the most success with garlic from Forever Young Farms. They sell softneck varieties well-suited to growing in the low desert of Arizona, and they ship it in time to plant. 

Other online retailers that sell garlic include: Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, Terroir SeedsTerritorial Seed CompanyPeaceful Valley Farm, and Seed Savers Exchange

It’s best not to grow grocery store garlic. The garlic may not be a good variety for your area and may have been treated with a growth inhibitor.

avoid grocery store garlic

3. Prepare garlic before planting

If you live in a warm climate and you are growing a hardneck variety of garlic, the bulbs must be vernalized. Vernalize garlic cloves by putting them in the fridge (cloves intact) in a closed paper sack for at least 6 weeks. 

Softneck varieties also benefit from vernalization, but it isn’t as critical as for the hardneck types. 

If you live in a cold climate and plant in the fall, the bulbs will naturally be exposed to the needed cooler temperatures. No artificial vernalization is necessary. 

vernalize garlic
How to grow garlic

4. Plant garlic at the right time

Garlic is usually planted in the fall — from September through November. Plant garlic about a month before the soil freezes in cold climates. 

The best time to plant garlic in the low desert of Arizona is during the month of October. 

when to plant garlic

5. Choose the best location for planting garlic

Choose an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

How to grow garlic
Garlic grows best in full sun

Garlic grows best in loose, well-draining soil. Prepare the soil by loosening soil to a depth of several inches.

How to grow garlic

Raised beds or containers that are at least 6” deep are excellent choices for growing garlic. 

Garlic grows well in containers and raised beds

Garlic is a heavy feeder. Amend the planting area with compost and a balanced organic fertilizer.  

How to grow garlic
Add balanced fertilizer before planting

Garlic is a good companion for most crops (other than beans, peas, sage, and parsley); tuck a few bulbs around other vegetables to help deter pests. 

Plant garlic in wells of fruit trees — may help deter common pests

How to grow garlic
Garlic is a good companion plant for many crops


6. Plant garlic correctly

soak garlic before planting

Break apart the bulbs, and soak in a solution of fish and kelp fertilizer and baking soda (1 T of each per gallon of water) for at least 8 and up to 24 hours. 

The baking soda has antibacterial benefits and the fertilizer stimulates growth.

How to grow garlic
Separate cloves and soak garlic before planting
benefits of presoaking

Plant with the flat side (roots) facing down and the pointy side (sprouting side) facing up. 

Which end of garlic to plant - How to grow garlic in Arizona - growing garlic in Arizona - #arizonagardening #garlic #garden #howtogarden
Plant garlic with the roots facing down

Plant cloves 2-3” deep and 4-6” apart. For square foot gardening, plant 9 per square.

How to grow garlic
Plant garlic 2-3″ deep

Mulch planting area well, especially in cold climates.

How to grow garlic
Mulch garlic well, especially in cold climates

7. Care for garlic as it grows

Water well when new leaves are forming. When leaves begin to die back, water less often. It’s best to water garlic deeply, less often. 

How to grow garlic


Garlic is a heavy feeder. Feed monthly with an organic fertilizer while garlic is actively growing.

How to grow garlic

Cut off flower shoots (scapes) as they emerge to encourage bulb development.

How to grow garlic
Hardneck garlic scape

8. Harvest garlic at the right time

Garlic is ready to harvest when about half the lower leaves are brown and the cloves are plump and well-formed. Garlic left in the ground too long will begin to split and the garlic will not store well.   

In the low desert of Arizona, garlic is often ready to harvest during the month of May.

Stop watering when the lower 3-4 leaves brown. Dig up a test bulb to check on size. 

How to grow garlic

About a week later, harvest the garlic by gently lifting with a fork rather than pulling. 

How to grow garlic

Do not rinse or trim roots and stems after harvesting.


9. Cure harvested garlic for longer storage

Allow the harvested garlic to cure in a shady well-ventilated area. The ideal temperature for curing is around 75-80°F (this may need to be inside if you live in a hot summer climate like me). Provide a slight breeze with a fan (if possible) if it is indoors.

Softneck garlic can also braided and hung up to cure. 

Lay the garlic out in a single layer on a rack or floor, or braid the stems of softneck varieties.

How to grow garlic
Curing onions and garlic indoors

Allow the garlic stems to wither and the papery skins to tighten around the cloves.

How to grow garlic
Cured garlic

Trim roots and trim stems to about 1″ when the necks are moisture-free and completely tight and dry.

How to grow garlic
Trim roots after curing

10. Store cured garlic properly

How to grow garlic
  • Store bulbs in a dry cool place. A great way to store garlic is in mesh net bags (I use these mesh bags from Amazon) hung up in a cool place. 
  • Check cloves regularly, and use any soft ones right away. Softneck varieties will store longer than hardneck varieties. 
  • Save the largest cloves for planting next year. Leave the stored cloves intact.

Roasted Garlic Recipe

Roasted garlic
Roasted garlic

How to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona #arizonagardening #arizonagarden #desertgardening #hotweathergarden #howtogarden

Looking for more information about gardening in Arizona? This blog post shares 7 tips for  how to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona


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B

Friday 7th of January 2022

I'm trying to get the timeline straight in my head, so not sure if I have this right.

I should be putting the garlic in the fridge around mid-August, to plant in Oct and harvest in May. And if I don't want to chill the garlic, I just plant in October and let it go until May anyways?

I garden in Southeast Arizona.

Angela Judd

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

Right - If you are growing a soft neck variety you may not need to put it in the fridge. Most garlic is ready to harvest at the beginning of May. Hope that helps.

Sherrie Street

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

Angela I received my garlic yesterday. Renee's early California garlic. Should I put them in the frig or straight to the dirt. I've never grown garlic so a bit nervous that I'm going to kill them before I even get started. Lol

Angela Judd

Tuesday 5th of October 2021

You can plant right away or pop in the fridge (cloves intact) until you are ready to plant. You've got this!

Lori

Monday 23rd of August 2021

Where do you get your garlic? I’m in Southern Nevada, about 5-10 degrees cooler than Phoenix and I can’t find a supplier that will ship garlic for desert planting.

Angela Judd

Monday 23rd of August 2021

I've been getting mine at Forever Young Farms the last couple of years and love it. I know they are sold out for the season this year though.

Willow3410

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

I just used cloves from the ones from the store I use to cook with. It was just a test. Not sure if hard or soft. Planted them last fall, its March 2021. If they are soft neck approx when would they be ready?? I have one that grew much sooner than the rest and is larger. I keep thinking that one may be ready, but the rest are definitely not ready no matter if hard or soft. Those I will just keep an eye on as May rolls around.

Angela Judd

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

Good plan. You can harvest early for young garlic, but for the best bulbs leave in the ground until May here in the low desert.

Lonna

Sunday 4th of October 2020

If I order garlic now at the beginning of October will I still have time too plant or should I wait until next year?

Angela Judd

Sunday 4th of October 2020

Order soft neck varieties, they don't need chilling as much. I would get it planted as soon as you can. Better late than never, garlic can be pretty forgiving.