Growing Garlic

Author: Carri Jagger, OSU Extension, Morrow County

If you have ever wanted to try your hand at growing garlic, now is the time to think about planting it.  Garlic should be planted between Halloween and Thanksgiving and before the ground freezes in Ohio.  Start with a good seed source from a reputable seed company or grower.  People grow garlic for many reasons: cooking, the health benefits such as antibiotic effects, antioxidant effects, and helping to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.  And, not to mention, it keeps vampires away – BAAAA HAAAA HAAAA.  We might need that in 2020!

But in all seriousness, garlic is fun and easy to grow! If you think you might want to try it in your garden follow the steps below.


  • Prepare your area:
    • Garlic doesn’t like wet feet so make sure you are not planting it in an area that is wet all winter and spring.
    • Soil Sample: Garlic needs a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
    • Add nutrients:
      • One half of the recommendation at planting to aid in root development.
      • Second application when growth resumes in spring and plants are 4-6 inches tall.
      • If a third application is needed do it 6 weeks after the first spring application.
    • 1 to 1.25 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed.
    • 5 to 2 pounds of 12-12-12 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed.
    • 2 pounds of urea (which is nitrogen-only fertilizer) per 500 square feet of bed.
  • Separate cloves from the bulb when you are ready to plant your garlic,
  • Soak in 2% soap and 2% mineral oil water bath (Jepson and Putnam, 2008 – Oregon State University) then a warm bleach water solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) or pure alcohol for two minutes before planting.
    • Soaking in the mineral oil will kill any mites that may be on the garlic and the bleach water solution or pure alcohol will kill any pathogens that might be on the garlic.
  • Plant with the pointed part of the clove up in rows, 2” deep, 4-6” between the cloves and space the rows 12” apart.
  • Once planted cover the garlic with 2-4 inches of straw or mulched up leaves.
  • In the spring check for germination. If you mulched with straw the garlic will grow right through it, but if you mulched with leaves, make sure the garlic is penetrating through it.
  • In May watch for your garlic to start setting scapes. Once scapes start to grow and begin to curl, cut them off.  Scapes can be eaten with just about anything.
  • In July start to think about digging your garlic. You will want to dig it when ½ to ¾ of the lower leaves are brown (5-6 upper leaves should be green) This is important not to leave it in the ground to long as the skins will deteriorate.
  • Once dug, trim off the leaves leaving about 8-10” of stem and hang or lay in a cool dark-shaded area that gets plenty of air movement this is critical for proper curing. Leave it cure for about a month and then sort through it trimming the stems off to an inch and rubbing off any excess dirt and lose skin.
  • You can eat your garlic fresh or once it has cured – it’s good both ways!

  • If you have questions please reach out to me. Carri Jagger Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator OSU Extension Morrow County


Photo credits:  Carri Jagger