Growing Garlic

Posted by gardensoul on October - 20 - 2014

One of my favorite sayings when cooking is “You can’t ever have too much garlic!” Harvesting my own garlic is much more flavorful than buying commercially grown garlic. This is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Nutritionally, eating garlic provides your body with Vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, and a number of amino acids. Research suggests garlic helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It is also considered a natural antibiotic. There are three varieties that can be grown in Colorado.

  • Softneck (Allium sativum var sativum)
    • This is the type found in supermarkets. The shelf life is long and they are difficult to peel.
    • Recommended strains for Colorado include Inchelium, Polish White, Chet’s Italian Red and Kettle River Giant.
  • Hardneck (Allium sativum var ophioscorodon)
    • Easy to peel, more flavorful than softneck, commonly rocambole, 4-5 months shelf life, produce a flowering stalk known as a scape, which eventually turns woody.
    • Recommended strains include Chesnok Red, German White, Polish Hardneck and Persian Star.
  • Elephant (Allium ampeloprasum)
    • This large garlic is related to leeks, mildest garlic, excellent roasted and spread on toasted bread.


Although garlic is considered a perennial it is usually grown as an annual. It grows 1 to 3 feet in height. The recommended planting time for colder regions is fall, 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost date. This allows the root to develop over the winter. The soil should be well amended and free draining. Work in a 5-10-10 fertilizer prior to planting. Garlic prefers full sun, but will tolerate light shade. Plant garlic with roots down, pointed end up (8784 bytes)

Separate bulbs into cloves. Use the largest cloves for planting, as smaller cloves produce smaller bulbs. Push the cloves with the root end down, 1 to 2 inches into the soil, about 6 inches apart. Mulch the cloves to prevent heaving during the winter months.

Some top growth may be experienced when first planted, which is fine, new leaves will appear in the spring. Be sure to pinch the coiled scapes on hardneck varieties to produce larger bulbs.

Harvesting and Storing:

Garlic is ready for harvesting mid-summer. Wait for the foliage to die off and turn brown. Be careful not to cut into the bulb when lifting the bulbs for harvest. Use a pitchfork and bring up the entire bulb.

Dry garlic in a dry, warm, dark, airy place for a few weeks. Cut the stalks about an inch above the bulb and store in open mesh bags at room temperature. Save a few of your largest bulbs for next year’s planting.

Garlic is a wonderful addition for stews, sauces, dips, pasta dishes, salad dressings and stir-fries. Garlic leaves may also be used fresh, just snip and add to your favorite dish.


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Separate the cloves

Planting Garlic

Planting Garlic