Garlic prefers well-drained soil rich in organic matter and major nutrients with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. We recommend preparing the soil several weeks prior to planting using plenty of organic amendments and fertilizer. This will allow beneficial soil organisms to increase.
Remove outer skin from the bulb (not individual cloves) and split cloves from the bulb just prior to planting. This tells the clove it is time to sprout roots. Plant the best cloves. The larger the clove, the larger the bulb will be next year. Avoid planting damaged or double cloves (two cloves joined at the base). Sow separated cloves root end down 2 to 3” deep, 4-6 inches apart in rows 9-12 inches apart. One pound of bulbs should sow a 20-foot row.
Plant from late August to mid-October. The colder the climate the earlier the garlic needs to be planted. In areas with harsh winters mulch rows with 3 – 6” of straw or hay for overwintering. This will help reduce widely fluctuating soil temperatures. Leave mulch on until March when plants begin to emerge from the soil. If you don’t see sprouts check below the mulch. Some mulch is difficult for plants to grow through. You may need to open the mulch where cloves were planted but leave it between the rows. Remove sick plants as necessary.
You may want to stop watering 2-3 weeks before harvest time. Plants will be ready for harvest around mid to late July. Harvest dates will vary depending on how wet/dry the season has been. It also will vary by plant variety. With Racambole types, cut off the central stalk after it extends to increase bulb size. Harvest when only 6 green leaves remain per plant.
Loosen soil with a digging fork. Shake off dirt and air dry bulbs out of direct sunlight. Dry the whole plant where there is good air circulation. Plants can be hung or placed on a rack made of chicken wire. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks to dry.
Cut dry bulbs from the stems and cut the roots off close to the bulb. Clean loose skins and soil from the bulbs using a soft bristled toothbrush. Store in an area out of direct sunlight at approximately 60 – 65º F. Do not store in plastic bags or the refrigerator.
There are rarely any pests that bother garlic. The primary problem usually is weeds. Mulching will help you keep on top of weeding throughout the season.