Welcome to our store Learn more

10% OFF all Seed Combo Packs


Growing Organic Garlic from Seed (cloves)

Mary Smith |

It's that time to start thinking about GARLIC.  This is our second year of offering several varieties of Organic Garlic Seed at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  Pre-Orders of Garlic is still available for a limited time (August 20th).  Orders ship out after September 19th.

Red Chesnok Garlic (hardneck)
Fall is the time to plant for best yields and highest quality bulbs. Generally plant in September–January. In very cold areas, plant by mid-October, and protect your crop with a thick layer of mulch such as straw. Expect to harvest it in June–July.  One lb of garlic seed equals approx. a 25' row with 4" spacing between plants. For most garlics, expect an optimum 10 lb yield for every lb planted.

Before we get started...A garlic Clove is a garlic SEED.

Rocambole garlic has wrappers that are typically reddish in color, such as Killarney Red.  However, color is not the only requirement for this category, as some varieties may be white or purple colored. Rocambole scapes are more tightly curled than other varieties.  Most rocambole varieties produce 8 to 10 cloves per head.


Softneck garlic, also called artichoke garlic due to their numerous cloves that give them an appearance similar to the “petals” of an artichoke head, is the most common garlic due to its excellent storage characteristics.  This is the kind you will find in grocery stores. 
Softnecks are the most heat tolerant of garlic, and have a sweeter, milder flavor than hardnecks.  If you’re looking to make garlic braids, this is the type to grow. 
Inchelium Red (softneck)

From The Old Farmer's Almanac,


  • Garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Plant in the fall and you'll find that your bulbs are bigger and more flavorful when you harvest the next summer.
  • In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant.
  • Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove.
  • Plant cloves about one month before the ground freezes. 
  • Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery.
  • Ensure soil is well-drained with plenty of organic matter. Select a sunny spot.
  • Place cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in their upright position (the wide root side facing down and pointed end facing up).
  • In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.


  • Northern gardeners should mulch heavily with straw for overwintering.
  • Mulch should be removed in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. (Young shoots can't survive in temps below 20°F on their own. Keep them under cover.)
  • Cut off any flower shoots that emerge in spring. These may decrease bulb size.
  • Weeds should not be a problem until the spring. Weed as needed.
  • Garlic requires adequate levels of nitrogen. Fertilize accordingly, especially if you see yellowing leaves.
  • Water every 3 to 5 days during bulbing (mid-May through June).
  • A note on garlic scapes: Some folks love cooking the scapes (the tops of hardneck garlic). Whether you trim the scapes or let them keep growing is your preference. We like to stir fry scapes the way we cook green beans—similar with a spicy kick!

 From Organic Gardening,

Planting Garlic: Step 1
Break a garlic bulb apart into individual cloves, being careful to keep the papery skins covering each clove intact. Then fill a quart jar with water and 1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed. Soak the cloves in this mixture for 2 hours prior to planting to prevent fungal disease and encourage vigorous growth.

Planting Garlic: Step 2
In the meantime, prepare your bed for planting. Garlic grows best in rich, well-drained soil that is free of weeds. Dig a furrow about 3 inches deep. Place the presoaked cloves into the furrow, spacing them 6 to 8 inches apart. Be sure the flat root end is down and the pointy end is up.

Planting Garlic: Step 3
Cover the cloves with 2 inches of soil and side-dress the furrow with compost or scratch in granulated organic fertilizer. Water the bed in well and cover it with 6 to 8 inches of straw mulch. You should see shoots poking through the mulch in 4 to 6 weeks. The garlic stops growing in the winter months and resumes in spring.

 THAT my friends is how it's done!  Are you ready to plant organic garlic?


Sign up for our E-Newsletter

1 comment

After 3 years of wanting to plant garlic, I’m taking the plunge this year. I live in South Central Ohio, just below Columbus (zone 6B). I think I’m looking for a hard neck variety. I would also like to try some elephant garlic, but I see you are sold out. What seed garlic seed variety would you recommend I start with? ps. I’ve loved your sweet pie pumpkin seed, I’ve have made wonderful pies from them and they are truly prolific and beautiful. Thank you for your time and trouble!

Ann White,

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.