Growing Garlic

Garlic is my favorite crop. Garlic planting is best done in the fall when other gardening chores aren’t vying for top priority. It only has to be purchased once because it is so easy to set a few bulbs aside from the summer harvest for fall planting. Softneck and hardneck are the two garlic categories. Softneck is easy to braid and stores longer than hard neck. It’s cloves are small, mild and somewhat difficult to peel. Hardneck’s larger, stronger tasting and easy to peel cloves do not store as well. Hardneck also provides tasty scapes for a garlicy treat early in the season. Both types make excellent garlic powder.
Garlic isn’t only for cooking. There are health benefits, too. Modern studies have shown garlic have antibiotic and antioxidant properties. When added to molasses, it makes a vermifuge that is adequate at keeping my sheep free from parasites.
Our small 8′ x 5′ bed yielded 135 heads that were harvested in early July. That left us plenty of time to replant the bed with green beans that were still giving us fresh meals in September with several quarts put by for winter.

How to Plant Garlic

1. Prepare the bed or row. Garlic likes rich, sandy loam with organic matter deeply incorporated. The soil should be soft so it is easy to push the cloves in.
2. Open the head and choose the biggest cloves for planting. The bigger the clove, the bigger the bulb will be.
3. Space 3″-6″ apart and 3″ deep with the pointed end up. A dibble speeds up the planting time.
4. Cover with a thin layer of mulch.

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Growing Garlic — 7 Comments

  1. We love garlic too, for all the reasons you mention. I agree about it being a great vermifuge and have given it to my goats, whirred up with water & molasses in the blender. I gather you give it to your sheep on a regular basis. I would love to know how you prepare it, how often you give it, and how much.

    Also curious, is there any difference in the medicinal properties of softneck versus hardneck?

  2. Hi Leigh,
    I prepare it the same way you do. Sometimes I mix it well with oats and divide it amongst enough feed pans that everyone gets their fair share.
    That is a good question and I would love to know the answer. We use Chet’s Red Italian exclusively because that’s the kind we grow. It is softneck and quite mild. Now I wonder if the stronger hardneck is more effective.
    How could we find out?

  3. That’s a good question. Everything I read in the medicinal herb books only addresses garlic. They never differentiate.

    So you’re not drenching, you’re mixing the concoction with their feed?

  4. I wonder which type is most popular or has been around the longest.
    I used to always drench. If I had a permanent race set up, I probably always would. As it is, I find mixing with oats easier and haven’t seen a difference in the animals.

  5. I love garlic as well, where do you purchase it from to begin with? I had some but for some reason after one crop one year, we never had any more to harvest and the bulbs kept getting smaller and smaller and less and less. Location is my bet (too clay and hot)
    Love your site btw.
    Barbara Brown
    Farm’s Pride English Shepherds

  6. Hi Barbara,
    Nice to see you:) If you click the picture in the post it will take you to Burpee’s garlic. They have a good selection. I started out with about 8 varieties of hard and softneck and selected the one that had the best predictability in my soil and climate.
    It is vital to plant the largest cloves from your harvest so you get big bulbs. I sounds like you might have something else going on though. I bet you are on the right track about the clay being the wrong soil for the garlic to grow big in.
    Good luck, you still have time to get some in before winter.