How to plant garlic for the absolute beginner

Planting garlic is one of those herbs you almost can’t go wrong with. Garlic has amazing health benefits and is quite simple to grow especially for beginners. In this article, you’ll learn how to choose your garlic variety, how much to plant and how to plant it. Lets dig in (no pun intended)!

What you need to know

Garlic is one of the most healthy herbs you can eat. It is very anti-inflammatory and healing to the gut, heart, blood and brain- honestly I feel like this list could go on and on… Another benefit to planting garlic is its impact of companion planting. In a nut shell, companion planting is the science of growing different plants together that strengthen each other. Because of garlic’s smell it deters aphids, Japanese beetles, ants, cabbage loopers and many other garden pests. Garlic is planted in the fall and is great for taking advantage of winter garden space. Nevertheless you should plant some!

Identifying your zone

To begin, you are going to need to identify what zone you live in. For example, I live in northern Virginia, so my zone is zone 7. If you are anything like me- when I first got into gardening I had zero idea what a “zone” was. I didn’t really think it was that important until I choose the wrong variety of plants in my garden and things didn’t thrive. All a zone tells you is the hardiness of your area. If you live somewhere hot, don’t plant veggies that thrive in cold temperatures and so on etc… Doing this will save you a lot of disappointment and confusion in your gardens. Trust me!

Choosing your garlic variety

Now that you’ve figured out your zone, you can choose your garlic variety. The basic rule of thumb for garlic is : cold winters are for hard neck garlic and warmer winters are for soft neck garlic. If you are in zone 1-7 (give or take) you are going to want to go with a hard neck garlic variety. If you are in a zone higher than 7 (or an area that has milder winters) choose soft neck garlic. What is hard neck garlic you might ask? Hard neck is pretty self explanatory. Any garlic that has a really firm and solid neck (aka the tall stalk like thing) is hard neck and thrives in cold temperatures. The same concept- soft neck is for warmer winter areas.

Don’t get too caught up in the names of the varieties. You can buy them from specific companies that sell the garlic you like, or you can use the variety they offer from your local grocery store or farm. Honestly there are so many types of garlic, and its easy to get overwhelmed but just choose the basic hard neck or soft neck and you cant go wrong.

Here are some great varieties for cold climates (hard neck garlics)

  • artichoke garlic
  • creole garlic
  • rocambole garlic
  • German extra hardy (more of the common one for gardens)
  • Spanish roja

Here are some great varieties for warmer climates (soft neck garlic)

  • Italian soft neck garlic
  • inchelium red garlic
  • kettle river giant garlic

How much should I plant?

A few things you need to know before you get digging. First, each clove of garlic produces an entire head of garlic. When you are considering how much to plant, my friend did the basic math of her family’s garlic consumption and concluded that each person ate 15 heads of garlic in a year. So with that in mind, I planted 15 cloves per person in my family.

Let’s get planting!

Finally the fun part! By this point, you have figured out what zone you live in, the garlic variety and how much you are going to plant. Garlic is a wonderful winter herb, so I recommend planting it in October (or at least a couple weeks before your first frost). Choose a space in your garden (or a pot.. etc) that has lots of sun. Garlic grows best in sunny environments. Now to plant (if you have the space) use a straight stick or draw a line in the dirt and plant in a row. You should plant the garlic around 2-3 inches deep and 4-5 inches apart. Make sure you are planting the cloves the right side up in the soil. To do that put the pointy side towards the sun (upwards), and the flat square bottomed part downwards. Like this:

Cover with soil and water every other day until they begin sprouting.

Well now you know how to plant garlic! Hopefully you found this article helpful. Please leave me any suggestions and feed back! Would love to hear from you. Stay tuned in for how to keep garlic healthy and harvest it.

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