How to grow garlic

It makes the base of so many delicious recipes so it's high time you knew how to grow garlic

How to grow garlic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're wondering how to grow garlic, we're here to tell you that it is really very simple, and you'll likely kick yourself when you realise that you could have been doing it this whole time! But it's never too late to start growing your own veggies, and with everything going on right now, people's shopping habits and therefore eating habits are changing in various different ways. Growing your own is going to be the way forward.

The positive side of the current climate is that we're starting to tap into our resourceful side, and when it comes to food, if it's not on your supermarket shelf but comes straight out of the ground and can be grown in the UK, then there's no reason why you can't grow it yourself!

If you're looking for more garden ideas and know-how, be sure to visit our page that is full of exciting stuff for you to do in your garden this spring, and over the course of the year too.

When to plant garlic

Garlic is known to many as an overwintering vegetable, and much like this implies, it is best to plant garlic in autumn or early winter. However, you haven't missed the boat completely as you can plant some cultivars of garlic in early spring. No pressure, but, now is your last chance to plant garlic for a successful crop come summer. What better way to enjoy your time at home than by getting your hands dirty in the garden right? From where to grow garlic to how long it takes to grow the stuff, here it what you need to know.

How to grow garlic

Garlic will grow best in a sunny spot and in plenty of well fertilised, free-draining soil. We'd recommend digging in some well rotted manure when planting out and keeping fertiliser to 25g per square metre/yard.

How to grow garlic at home

You can start growing garlic in a cold frame outside but if you'd rather grow garlic indoors, then you can start your cloves off in containers and leave them on a sunny windowsill, before planting them outside late spring.

You should plant the individual cloves, tip way up so that they sit around 2.5cm/1in beneath the soil's surface. Spacing will depend on your container if working inside or on your outside space if planting out straight away. Line cloves up in rows that are 30cm (12in) apart from each other and ensure that the cloves are spaced out equally by 15cm/6in. 

When to harvest garlic

Garlic should be ready to pick, prepare and enjoy in early summer. Many often go by the summer solstice which is the Saturday, 20 June 2020 this year.

However, spring-planted garlic you can expect to be ready a little later. The telltale signs to look for are when, what were, green leaves begin to yellow and wither. You should then be able to loosen the bulbs using a trowel and carefully remove them from the soil.

What to watch out for when growing garlic

Once your garlic is growing outside, you should stay aware of birds. And no we're not being derogatory, birds (especially pigeons) love pulling up those crunchy cloves so arm yourself with horticultural fleece to avoid having to buy a scarecrow. 

Leek rust is another issue that can arise. It's a fungal disease which you can spot from bright yellow spots on garlic leaves. A mild case won't harm the plant, but to avoid this happening it's key that plants aren't overcrowded. If any of your crop is affected, get rid of any plant material displaying the symptoms and unfortunately you won't be able to plant any garlic or other vegetables from the onion family in the same spot, for about three years.

Looking to grow more? 

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing!