Skip to main content

How to plant garlic: A versatile vegetable with a ton of uses

A guide to planting garlic and using it in many different ways

Three garlic bulbs with some garlic cloves next to them
Sahand Babali/Unsplash

Garlic, with its distinctive flavor and aroma, is a versatile vegetable that adds depth and complexity to a wide range of delicious meals. But did you know that garlic is not only a culinary delight but also offers numerous health benefits and has various household uses? Let’s explore how to plant garlic, the many culinary and health benefits it offers, as well as its household and medicinal uses.

How to plant garlic to ensure a plentiful harvest

Before you can use and enjoy those flavorful bulbs, you need to first understand how to properly plant them. Follow these steps to ensure a successful garlic harvest!

Selecting the right garlic variety

When it comes to choosing the right garlic variety, you have several options to consider:

For example, softneck garlic varieties, such as “Silverskin” and “Artichoke,” are commonly found in grocery stores and have a milder flavor. Hardneck garlic varieties, on the other hand, including “Rocambole” and “Porcelain,” offer a stronger taste and are better suited for colder climates.

Research the different varieties available and select the one that best suits your preferences and growing conditions.

Preparing your garlic planting site

Garlic thrives in well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter. Choose a sunny location in your garden and prepare the soil by removing all the weeds and adding compost or aged manure. Break up clumps of soil and ensure the area is free from rocks or debris that could impede bulb development.

Planting garlic cloves the right way

Garlic is typically grown from individual cloves, which are the small segments that make up the garlic bulb. Separate the cloves from a fresh bulb of garlic, ensuring they remain intact and undamaged. Plant the cloves pointed end up about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, in rows spaced approximately 1 foot apart. Cover the cloves with soil and gently firm the soil down.

Mulching and watering garlic for optimum growth

To protect the garlic cloves and help conserve moisture, apply a layer of mulch, such as straw or chopped leaves, around the plants. This will also help suppress weed growth. Water your garlic regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Garlic requires about an inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation.

Garlic plants growing in a garden

How do you know it’s time to harvest garlic?

Garlic bulbs are typically ready to be harvested when the foliage begins to turn yellow or brown. To harvest these tasty bulbs, use a garden fork or shovel to carefully loosen the soil around them. Then, gently lift the bulbs from the ground, taking care not to damage them. Shake off any excess soil and lay the garlic plants in a dry, well-ventilated area to cure for about two to three weeks. This curing process allows the outer layers of the bulbs to dry and harden, extending their shelf life significantly.

Garlic plant
Yogesh Pedamkar/Unsplash

Storing garlic for long-term use

Proper vegetable storage is key when harvesting and using garlic. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Remove any remaining dirt or dried foliage from the bulbs, but don’t wash them, as moisture can promote rot.
  • Trim the roots and cut off the dried stems, leaving about an inch above the bulb.
  • Store the garlic in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area, such as a pantry or cellar.
  • Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, as it can cause the cloves to sprout or become rubbery.

When stored properly, garlic can last several months, allowing you to enjoy its flavor and benefits throughout the year.

Garlic at the market
Artem Beliaikin/Shutterstock

The many uses for garlic, the versatile vegetable

Garlic is not only a kitchen staple but also a versatile ingredient with a wide range of uses beyond the culinary realm. Let’s explore some of the different ways you can incorporate garlic into your daily life.

Culinary and dietary benefits of garlic

Garlic adds depth and flavor to a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to stir-fries and marinades. Its unique taste enhances the overall flavor profile of a meal. But that’s not all of this tasty ingredient’s culinary benefits. Garlic is packed with essential nutrients and compounds that offer a mountain of health benefits. It contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium, and fiber. Garlic also contains sulfur compounds, such as allicin, which have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Household uses of garlic

That’s right. Garlic’s powerful aroma and natural properties make it a valuable tool in household tasks. You can use it as a natural pesticide by creating a garlic spray that repels pests in your garden. Simply blend garlic cloves with water and strain the mixture into a spray bottle. You can also use garlic to remove stubborn stains, polish metal, or even repel mosquitoes. Its versatile nature makes it a useful ingredient for various household applications.

Medicinal uses: What can garlic be used to treat?

Did you know that garlic has a long history of medicinal use and is believed to have various health benefits? It has been known to support cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Garlic may also have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, making it effective against certain infections. Some studies suggest that this potent ingredient may help boost the immune system, and it may even have anti-cancer properties.

Garlic is certainly a vegetable with many uses, and it offers not only culinary delight but also numerous health benefits. By following the steps we outlined here, you can successfully plant and harvest your own garlic, ensuring a fresh, flavorful, and useful supply throughout the year. From adding flavor to your favorite dishes to exploring its household and medicinal uses, garlic truly deserves its place in every kitchen and garden.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
These plants should be among the first you plant this year
Grow these plants to get a jump on gardening
Purple crocus flowers in the snow

It’s a new year, which means we’re about to enter a new growing season! If you’re planning out your first garden of the year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the options. There are so many plants to choose from, and every year new hybrids and varieties are introduced to the market. If thinking of all those plants makes your head spin, don’t worry. You’re not alone. We’ve got some recommendations to help narrow things down to start your new year planting season off right.

Early-blooming flowers
Flowers that bloom early in spring or late in winter are great choices to plant. Due to their bloom time, they’re often cold resistant, and they can add a bright pop of color to break up the smooth whites and browns of winter. If you’re growing them from seed, it’s best to plant them in the fall. However, you can often find seedlings or mature plants in nurseries early in the year.

Read more
Have you ever wondered if potatoes are fruits or vegetables? We have answers
Everything you need to know about how potatoes are grown and used
A pile of brown potatoes up close

Potatoes are a delicious, nutritious, and versatile food. They’re easy to grow and fun to eat, but what exactly are they? As gardeners, we use the phrase "fruits and vegetables," but what is the key difference between these two categories? More importantly, which category do potatoes fall into, and why does it even matter? If these questions have ever crossed your mind, then you’re in luck! In this handy guide, we’ll explain what makes a fruit a fruit, a vegetable a vegetable, and a potato a potato.

What is a fruit?
Fruits are a specific part of a plant that's formed to help protect and spread the seeds of the plant. Not all plants produce fruit. Some flowers, for example, form seed heads that help to disperse the seeds. Sunflowers and dandelions are good examples of this. Not all fruits are edible, either. There are plenty of poisonous berries, including yew and holly, which are eaten by birds but are toxic to humans.

Read more
Gardening 101: 7 easy seeds to grow in cups for a tiny, adorable, and low-maintenance indoor garden
How to choose seeds to start inside of cups
Seed starting in cups

Many gardeners start seeds indoors during the last weeks of winter or early spring to get a head start on the growing season. When it's too cold to plant anything outside, you can start seeds indoors and transplant them in the ground once the weather warms up.

So what can you use for your seeds without spending a fortune on seed-starting trays? Plastic cups left over from parties or camping trips are ideal. Recycling these cups provides the perfect temporary (or even permanent) homes for your plants, and you'll get the cutest container garden in the process!

Read more