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Growing Garlic~ The Basics

It's that time of year! Time to purchase your garlic seeds for autumn planting!

We grow organic hardneck garlic here on our property in Northern Maine. Soon, we will be harvesting, drying, saving seed (cloves), eating, and selling some of those beautiful garlic bulbs! Organic Music and Organic German are our two main garlic, very hearty, very pungent in flavor! If you are curious as to how to grow garlic, please keep reading!


  • Health Benefits of Garlic

  • Basics of Growing Garlic

  • Resources (links to purchase garlic related items)

Health Benefits of Garlic (Allium sativum):

  • Garlic is a natural bug and tick repellant.

  • Anti-viral, and therefore can help halt the growth of unwanted organisms and help fight conditions such as colds and flu.

  • Antibacterial, and therefore can help ward off or defend against many infections caused by harmful bacteria.

  • Sulfur content is healing to the skin.

  • Helps to lower hypertension (blood pressure).

  • Can be helpful in combating an over production of yeast resulting in conditions such as Candida, Yeast infections, and Athlete's foot.

  • Supports HDL- High-Density Lipoproteins (healthy cholesterol) levels.

  • Phytochemicals in garlic have potential cancer-fighting properties, including allicin, alliin, ajoene antioxidants in garlic.

  • And of course, it keeps away the vampires :-)

This is a photo of our garlic, freshly harvested!

Basics of Growing Garlic:

  1. Choose your garlic type- Hardneck or Softneck. A few differences:

- Hardneck is heartier in colder climates, and it also produces scapes (think garlic chives), which are very tasty! Scapes are basically the flower stalk, and are curvy in shape and hold potent garlic flavor. Hardneck varieties include (not inclusive list) Porcelain, Purple Stripe, German Red, Turban, Music.

- Softneck tends to yield more cloves and store better and longer but typically does better in warmer climates (and no scapes). You can also braid softneck varieties, but it is nearly impossible with rigid hardnecks. Softneck varieties include (not inclusive list) Artichoke, Silverskin, Polish White, Western Rose.

  • Note: Elephant Garlic is in a category of its own. Often twice the size of regular garlic, this plant is actually in the leek family.

  1. Prepping: Once you have your garlic bulb (seed), remove the paper wrapping around the bulb to break the cloves apart, however, try to keep the paper wrapping on the cloves. If a clove breaks/is damaged, use it for cooking, not planting (it will be hindered in its growth).

  2. Planting: You can plant in raised beds or in a garden. Garlic should be planted in the Autumn in loose, well-drained soil (pH of 6.0 to 7.0). Septemeber and October are prime months for planting garlic. The primary need is good drainage because if too wet, garlic is prone to rot. Plant the clove’s flat end (root end) down in the soil. The tip faces the sky. Cloves should be planted about 4 to 6 inches apart, and 2 to 4 inches down (4 inches if you are in a cold climate to protect the clove).

  3. *Important to Mulch in cold climates! Once cloves are planted, spread mulch over the planting site (up to 6 to 8 inches thick). Leaves or hay/straw works well. This mulch will cover and protect the garlic for the winter season. No watering during this time. Once the spring arrives, wait for the threat of frost to vanish, then uncover your crop. At this time you can fertilize your garlic and water!

  4. Harvest: Typically early August is garlic’s ready-time. When about half of the leaves on the plant are dried out, it’s harvest time! Harvest when the soil is dry, it makes it easier. Be sure to dig out the garlic bulbs, versus pulling from the leaves, which can cause damage. Brush off dirt & start the drying process.

  5. Drying: Place the garlic stalks in a dry place with good air ventilation, and not in direct sun. Hanging garlic is one of the best ways to be sure moisture does not get trapped in the plants. Drying can take 3 to 8 weeks.

  6. Storing & Preserving: Hanging, in baskets, brown paper bags, garlic keepers (pottery), canning, preserve in vinegar or wines, freezing (I mince the garlic, place it in ice cube trays with olive oil and use one block per recipe).

  7. Other Tips:

  • Garlic is pollinated by bees, so the more bees you can attract, the better!

  • Be aware- gophers like garlic.

  • In the spring, be sure to nourish the soil by adding compost, phosphorus, and nitrogen-based fertilizers (i.e. Bone Meal and Blood Meal).

  • Hardneck advice- Remove the scape once it curls. The removal will allow the energy to go into the bulb (making it bigger) versus the scape & flower.

  • Don’t forget you can eat the scapes! They contain garlic oil and are tasty in stir-fries & salads. Be sure to cut them when young, otherwise, they are tough.

ENJOY! And remember, 1 clove planted = 1 bulb harvested!


Johnny’s Selected Seeds

* Organic Garlic for eating:

Be Well,







*DISCLAIMERS: This is for your educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat any medical issues. Consult with your healthcare provider.

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