Sowing heirloom garlic.

Well, two frost warnings this week (wannnnhhhh I’m not ready!!!) and a shocking amount of cold damage to some of my fellow gardeners’ squash at the community garden has got me thinking it’s nearly time to plant my fall bulbs.  Although he knows better, my hubby left me alone to wander the aisles of Canadian Tire the other day 😉 so I stocked up on new crocuses, and I’m hoping to track down some more Siberian squill and glories-of-the-snow this coming weekend.  But it’s not the flowers I’m really excited about, however – it’s the garlic.

I’ve never planted garlic before, but it’s been something I’ve been itching to try out for some time.  When a local community gardening group put some bunches of heirloom garlic up for sale as a fundraiser, I jumped at the chance to obtain a few bulbs.

Varieties:  ‘Persian Star’, ‘Music’, ‘Ontario Purple Trillium’, and ‘Killarney Rocambole Red’

Now I have them…so what do I do next?

Fortunately, it seems that growing garlic isn’t rocket science (whew!)…plus the community gardening group gave me a handy little cheat-sheet to help me out.  Here is my summary of the most important stuff for anyone like me who is planting garlic for the first time:

  • Give your garlic a full sun location.
  • Don’t plant your garlic in clayey soil – good drainage and uncompacted rich loam is key.  Amend with compost before planting.
  • Plant garlic in autumn 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes solid.  Harvest time will be the following summer.
  • Once the ground freezes, cover the garlic with a layer of fine bark mulch and keep protected until harvest time next year!
  • While you can grow garlic from the bulbils, I don’t have any to plant (plus, I don’t want to wait 2 years to harvest), so I’m just going to skip over that part and talk about growing garlic from cloves (aka rounds):
  1. Remember:  large cloves will grow into bulbs; small ones will just get bigger.   Planting depth for small cloves should be about 2.5 cm; triple that for large ones.
  2. Spacing should be about 18 cm minimum for large cloves.  If you want bigger bulbs, increase the amount of space.
  3. Pointy end up!  🙂
  4. You can plant the entire bulb if it contains only a few cloves (less than 6).  But remember that each clove will form into a separate plant and they will all be clustered tightly together!

Do you grow your own garlic?  Do you have any tips for success?


  1. Yes, I have grown garlic for the last two years and it is amazing to pull out full bulbs in mid summer! I’ve had very good success planting them on the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, but I’ve noticed a lot of people are saying to plant them now. I think soil must make a difference too – they’ve been planted in raised beds filled with soil from Western Canada Compost. Best wishes with your plantings!

    • Thanks so much! I’m just not sure about this whole “4-6 weeks before the ground is frozen” planting bit…I don’t want to wait too long, but too early isn’t good, either. Your idea to put them in on the Thanksgiving Day long weekend is a great one, perhaps I’ll jump on board! And, ahh, I wish I had raised beds to plant them in, but unfortunately….

      Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    • Thank you! Apparently if you’re growing garlic from bulbils, they’ll do alright in containers…I’m going to give that a try someday, as well, and see how it goes.

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