Growing Garlic in 5 Simple Steps

🍂Fall is perfect for planting garlic. Try to get it in by mid-November.

Source your garlic from local farmers like Edible Stories Market Garden, West Union Gardens, or the August Garlic Festival in North Plains. The longer a plant is cultivated in a particular region the more it thrives in our localized conditions. Territorial Seed Company also offers locally cultivated garlic. 

There are three main types of garlic: hardneck, softneck, and elephant. 

Hardneck garlic has a slightly more complex flavor (to me: rich and spicy) and has a bonus harvest of scapes in the spring. 🤩

Softneck garlic is your typical grocery store garlic. After harvest, it can be fashioned into lovely braids. They also keep longer.

Elephant garlic is more closely related to leeks. It has large bulbs and a milder flavor. 

Garlic loves full sun, fluffy soil, and a pH between 6-7. 

To plant:

  1. Separate bulbs into individual cloves.
  2. Dig a hole about 4 inches deep and work in a little balanced fertilizer. For elephant garlic go 6 inches.
  3. Back-fill with some soil so the clove is 2 or 3 inches down. You don’t want the clove sitting in fertilizer, you want the roots to reach for it a little.
  4. Flat side down, pointy side up, place clove in the hole and cover.
  5. Space cloves about 4 inches apart. For elephant garlic go 6 inches.


  • After planting, feel free to winterize your beds as normal. I sprinkle lime, and then add a layer of leaves and compost. The vigorous garlic greens don’t seem to have difficulty pushing through this kind of mulch. More info on winterizing your garden.
  • In early spring, side dress garlic greens with a nitrogen rich fertilizer.
  • Garlic is usually harvested in July here in the Willamette Valley, so be sure to plan accordingly. 
  • Harvest the scapes of hardneck garlic before they produce bulbettes. This will ensure the energy is concentrated in the cloves producing bigger and more fragrant cloves.

When to Harvest

Mid-July is usually when garlic goes dormant. The tops will be mostly brown with a few streaks of green.

Harvest Tips:

  • Leave in the soil for a few days or a week without watering.
  • Lever a trowel under the bulb and pop it out of the soil.
  • Brush off excess soil – but don’t wash.
  • Leave all your garlic in a cool, dry, place for about a week to cure.
  • Remove the roots.
  • For softneck garlic you can braid the leaves and hang in your root cellar–(don’t we wish!)
  • For hardneck garlic remove the leaves and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • Save some of your fattest cloves for planting in the fall. (September – November)


Most garden vegetables are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. It can take a little effort to remember to plant garlic fall for a summer harvest, but once you get into the swing of it you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of this fragrant bulbs each summer and may never need to buy garlic again.

For more information visit:

OSU Extension: Get your garlic on: A primer on planting, growing and harvesting

Hardneck garlic scapes.
Hardneck garlic scapes.
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