Growing garlic in the home landscape

Growing garlic is a simple process. Plant garlic in the right location, water and weed and in a few months you'll have home grown garlic.

Reasons to grow garlic

Garlic is an excellent herb to spice up many dishes. Homegrown garlic has a taste that's milder and sweeter than the bulbs you purchase in the supermarket. In addition to its many culinary uses, garlic is an effective pest repellent in the garden. It can also help keep those pesky fleas away from your pets.

Garlic as pest control

Humans usually can't smell garlic planted in the ground, But, bad bugs and digging rodents detect it. This can keep them away from valuable ornamental bulbs that might otherwise be dinner for a vole. Ward off damaging insects by planting garlic around the flower or vegetable bed.

Due to the mild winter of 2011-2012, the flea population exploded in our area. Both my veterinarian and my exterminator advised the use of garlic to keep fleas away from my dogs. It is now planted throughout my landscape. However, don't feed garlic to your pets without first consulting your vet.

Tips for growing and harvesting garlic

  • Plant individual garlic cloves in a sunny spot in organic, well drained soil. Plant cloves 6 to 8 inches deep and 5 inches apart.Plant cloves with the pointed end up.

Plant garlic a few weeks before the first frost. Garlic matures in 6 to 8 months. Keep the garlic bed weeded.

Remove the scapes that rise from the plant and use them. Some gardeners believe that leaving the scapes on the plant helps create bigger garlic bulbs. If you want large bulbs, leave the scapes alone.

When one third of the foliage of the garlic plant is yellowed, carefully dig down to see if garlic is ready to harvest. If bulbs are the right size, it is time to harvest. Garlic bulbs left past their prime will break out of their skins and won't be edible.

Dry the bulbs in a mesh bag or by hanging in a dry, shady area. Don't wash the bulbs before drying.

Save some of the bulbs to replant next year. Don't plant cloves from the grocery store, buy garlic for planting online or at your local garden center. Rotate the crop yearly.

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