Garlic for your Garden

Growing garlic is easy! It's just like planting bulbs. You want to plant them in the fall and then you will be able to harvest your plants in late spring/early summer. Here's what you need to know about garlic and planting it. First, there are two types of garlic, hardneck and softneck.

What is a hardneck garlic?

This type of bulb produces a central coiled stiffer stalk with undeveloped flowers on top. Most of these types of garlic form 4 to 8 cloves. They are more pungent with subtle notes and are considered to have more ‘gourmet’ or complex flavors. Hardneck garlic does not store as well as softneck but it is hardier in our zone.

What is a softneck garlic?

Softneck garlic has larger heads with 12-20 small cloves and no central stalk. You can braid the foliage to store. The leaves will soften and fall over as the garlic matures. They will also sprout directly from each clove. The flavor of softneck garlic is either pungent or mild with little subtlety.


Garlic needs rich, loose soil to grow. Do not plant in an area with poor drainage. Add compost, leaf mulch, or TGP garden mix to loosen our clay soil. For biggest heads, plant in fall about 4-6 weeks before the first frost. The later you plant, the less cloves you will have. Garlic thrives on the moderate nights of spring and summer sun and moderate nights. If temperatures too cool and they won’t form the bulbs.

Planting in fall

Break bulb apart and plant individual cloves 2-3” deep, pointed end up. Do not peel cloves. Space 10” to 12” apart
Fertilize when planting with compost and Bio-tone. Mulch heavily, 2-3” minimum, with straw, shredded leaves or hay. This protects against frost heaving and keeps moisture more uniform. Garlic also hates weed competition.

What to do in spring

Fertilize area as soon as leaves emerge and again 3 to 4 weeks later. Keep soil evenly 
moist. Area 
should not dry 
out during 
active growth. Hardneck varieties will send up a center stiffer scape a few weeks before harvest. Clip these stalks after they have emerged and before they curl.

What is a garlic scape?

A garlic scape is the stiffer stalk that will produce a flower on hardneck garlic varieties. Although the flower will be undeveloped it is edible. You can chop and cook with soup, stews or baked meats. Scapes do taste 'garlic-y' but have less bite to them than the garlic cloves.

In Summer and to harvest

Harvest when it is dry, not raining (reduces spread of fungal problems. Dig when the plants bottom leaves have yellowed and there are only 5-6 green leaves remaining. Pull carefully from soil – use a small fork or trowel if needed. Shake off the soil gently as the heads will bruise easily.

Drying and curing:

Garlic keeps longer if dried & cured with its leaves and roots attached. Drying can take 3 to 8 weeks depending on the humidity of the area. Keep out of the sun in a shady well ventilated dry place. If indoors, a room fan speeds the drying process. Keep where rain cannot get them wet or hang in small bunches

Store in net sacks for air ventilation. Perfect temps are 45-55 F. Cooler temps will make them sprout so do not store in the refrigerator. You'll want to choose bulbs that are the largest and have the best form to save for planting the following fall. Avoid slivers and one-sided bulbs.

Garlic varieties available at The Growing Place

Duganski — Hardneck, 7-10 cloves per bulb, fiery flavor that mellows out to a rich garlic aftertaste, stores well.

Krandasger — Hardneck, 6-8 cloves per bulb, wrappers can be red or white, intense flavor—the colder the climate, the more intense.

Music — Hardneck, 4-7 cloves per bulb,
great strong flavor, stores well.

German Red Medium — Hardneck, 10-16 cloves per bulb, hot & spicy, good in cold climates.

Italian Late — Softneck, 25 cloves 
per bulb, pungent flavor

Nootka Rose — Softneck, 15-24 
cloves per bulb, mild flavor, can store 
for up to 9 months

Inclelium Red — Softneck, moderate flavor, 
12-20 cloves per bulb. 6-9 month storage/cures for a few months for storage considered the oldest variety. Heirloom

Early Italian Purple — Softneck, sweet mild flavor, 7-9 cloves per bulb, good storage

Come to The Growing Place in Naperville, 12-3pm, for Garlic Fest!

Sample some of the different garlic varieties and learn all about garlic and planting garlic. We'll have a talk at 12, 1 and 2pm. Plus, local farmer, Brad Metzger will be selling garlic cloves to eat and plant. And Twisted Olive Imports will be here selling and sampling some of their infused vinegars and oils.

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plants in right places.