Skip to Content

How to Prepare Soil for Growing Garlic (All Ways)

A collage of planting garlic on the soil.

Garlic requires sandy, well-drained soil. Prepare your garlic bed by loosening the soil to 12-18 inches. Mix 2-3 inches of organic matter such as compost or manure. If your soil is heavy clay, consider raised beds. Rake the bed smooth and break up any large clumps of dirt.

To plant garlic, separate the cloves from a head of garlic. Plant each clove 4-6 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart, pointed side up—water well. You can also start garlic indoors in pots 4-6 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant outdoors when the weather warms up.

Mulch around plants with straw, hay, or shredded leaves to help keep weeds down and retain moisture. Keep the bed weed-free all season.

Water garlic regularly, especially during dry periods. Too much or too little water can cause heads to split open.

In late summer, when the plant’s lower leaves start to yellow, stop watering. This will help the garlic heads mature and prevent them from rotting in storage.

Garlic is ready to harvest when the lower leaves turn brown and begin to die back. Carefully dig up bulbs with a shovel or spade, being careful not to damage them. Brush off any excess dirt and allow the garlic heads to air dry in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks before storing.

What type of soil is needed for garlic?

Garlic cloves planted on the soil.

Garlic grows best in well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Amend your soil as needed to achieve these conditions. In general, garlic is a relatively low-maintenance crop. However, watering during dry spells and fertilizing every few weeks will help ensure a good harvest.

What are some tips for planting garlic?

When planting garlic, choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Garlic cloves should be planted pointy side up and 6-8 inches apart, at a depth of 2-3 inches. Once planted, water your garlic regularly and fertilize it every few weeks. Harvest your garlic when the tops turn yellow and brown (usually around late summer or early fall).

How do you grow garlic in soil?

A person planting garlic on a raised bed.

To grow garlic in soil, till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches, then add organic matter such as compost or manure. Garlic cloves should be planted pointy side up and 6-8 inches apart, at a depth of 2-3 inches. Once planted, water your garlic regularly and fertilize it every few weeks. Harvest your garlic when the tops turn yellow and brown (usually around late summer or early fall).

Soil pH for garlic should be 6.0-7.0

To achieve these conditions, garlic growers may need to amend their soil with compost or manure.

In general, garlic is a relatively low-maintenance crop. However, watering during dry spells and fertilizing every few weeks will help ensure a good harvest.

What are some tips for storing garlic?

Garlic and onion on a store house.

Once your garlic heads are harvested, brush off any excess dirt and allow them to air dry in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks. Store dried garlic heads in a mesh bag or other breathable container in a cool (32-40 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, and dry location. Do not wash or trim the garlic heads before storing; this can promote rot. Check held garlic heads periodically, and discard any that show mold or other deterioration. With proper care, garlic can be stored for several months.

Why is my garlic not growing?

There are several reasons why garlic might not be growing properly. Poor drainage, lack of sunlight, or insufficient soil nutrients can cause problems. Additionally, garlic cloves planted too profoundly or closed together may fail to sprout. If you suspect any of these issues, take steps to correct them as soon as possible. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

What are some common problems with garlic?

Garlic leaves infested by worms.

The most common problems with garlic are poor drainage, lack of sunlight, insufficient soil nutrients, or cloves planted too deeply or too close together. These issues can all cause problems with growth. Additionally, garlic is susceptible to several pests and diseases, including root rot, white rot, and downy mildew. If you suspect any of these problems, take steps to correct them as soon as possible. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

When is garlic ready to harvest?

Garlic is ready to harvest when the lower leaves turn brown and begin to die back. Carefully dig up bulbs with a shovel or spade, being careful not to damage them. Brush off any excess dirt and allow the garlic heads to air dry in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks before storing.

How much water does garlic need?

Watering matured garlic plant.

Garlic plants need about 1 inch of water per week from rainfall or irrigation. Watering during dry spells is especially important to prevent the garlic bulbs from drying out and becoming smaller. Too much water can also be a problem, as it can promote the growth of disease-causing organisms in the soil. Be sure to provide good drainage to avoid this issue.

When and how should garlic be fertilized?

Fertilize garlic every 2-4 weeks with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, taking care not to get any on the leaves, as this can burn them. Water thoroughly after applying fertilizer to help distribute nutrients down to the roots. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

What are some tips for storing garlic?

Once your garlic heads are harvested, brush off any excess dirt and allow them to air dry in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks. Store dried garlic heads in a mesh bag or other breathable container in a cool (32-40 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, and dry location. Do not wash or trim the garlic heads before storing; this can promote rot. Check held garlic heads periodically, and discard any that show signs of mold or other deterioration. With proper care, garlic can be stored for several months.

Is peat moss good for garlic?

A person holding peat moss for fertilizer.

Peat moss can be used as a soil amendment for garlic, but it is unnecessary. Peat moss is an organic material that helps improve drainage and aeration in the soil, which can benefit garlic plants. However, peat moss can be difficult to find and is not always necessary. If you decide to use it, mix it into the soil before planting the garlic cloves. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

My garlic is sprouting. Is this a problem?

If your garlic is sprouting before you are ready to plant it, don’t worry – this is not a problem. Sprouted garlic cloves often grow better than those that have not sprouted. Plant the sprouted cloves in the ground, and they should continue to grow. However, if you want to store the garlic for longer, it is best to plant it before it starts sprouting. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

My garlic plants are not growing. What could be the problem?

Several potential problems could be preventing your garlic plants from growing. Poor drainage, lack of sunlight, or insufficient soil nutrients can cause problems. Additionally, garlic cloves planted too profoundly or closed together may fail to sprout. If you suspect any of these issues, take steps to correct them as soon as possible. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.

What are some common pests and diseases of garlic?

Garlic cloves infest by pests.

Garlic is susceptible to several pests and diseases, including root rot, white mold, and bulb mites. These problems can often be prevented by practicing good hygiene and crop rotation. Be sure to remove any diseased or damaged plants from the garden, and do not plant garlic in the exact location more than once every 3-4 years. If you suspect any of these problems, take steps to correct them as soon as possible. With proper care, your garlic should start growing soon.