Planting garlic is one of life’s great joys. That wasn’t a joke. It’s up there with getting married, buying a house and having babies.
In fact, planting organic garlic cloves is similar to financial investing. You plant mid-October all the way up to Halloween and reap rewards in July when you least expect it. Your Halloween costume will have to wait!
Some of you in warmer climates might have up to November 30th or so to plant.
It’s that thrilling.
But you can’t plant garlic unless you have cloves to plant. Relax. You still have about a month to acquire organic garlic cloves to plant.
So today I want to talk about how to get garlic and what to do with those cloves until you are ready to plant.
And there are rules for planting organic garlic cloves if you want to guarantee a slam-dunk success!
Here’s how to get it in the ground right before the frost sets in.
Why plant garlic?
Plant garlic because it’s delicious. Nothing beats savoring the fresh flavor of garlic. Chopped or minced garlic adds so much life to a plethora of dishes. Truly, the life spice of life.
Fresh tomatoes with fresh garlic and basil chopped up with olive oil over pasta. Yes please!
And if you haven’t eaten garlic scapes, you haven’t lived. Garlic scapes taste like green beans with just a hint of garlic flavor. They are absolutely delicious steamed or sauteed with a little butter or olive oil.
Not only do you eat the bulb, but you eat the stalks of the plant. Waste not with garlic!
Moreover, the nutritional benefits of garlic are numerous. Garlic is famous for its antibiotic properties reputedly helping everything from cancer to the common cold. It’s certainly worth a shot!
Why organic garlic cloves are best to plant
The last thing you want to do is head to the local grocery store, buy garlic and use those cloves as seed to plant.
Grocery store garlic bulbs have most likely been treated with a growth inhibitor chemical. Being treated means it won’t sprout even if you do attempt to plant the cloves.
No sprouts means no roots. So essentially you’re working for nothing. The cloves will rot into the ground.
If you must go the grocery store route having no other options, at least buy from a reputable store like Trader Joe’s. Make sure it’s organic. You can also check out Amazon which has a few options.
Quality is paramount with garlic. You get what you pay for. You absolutely don’t want to plant any seed or clove that have been sprayed or treated with any pesticide.
Your best option for buying organic garlic cloves to plant is from a local roadside produce stand, farmer’s market or a home gardener selling their surplus. And you can’t loose planting your own harvested bulbs!
Best of all, most home gardeners don’t spray their garlic with any pesticide or harsh chemicals since few pests attack garlic.
How-to get garlic
There’s a local roadside stand about an hour away from my home that I hit up when our family heads to the country.
Pete’s stand sells humongous bags or broccoli for $2. I can’t grow it that cheaply!
But his garlic is priceless. As a general rule if you can purchase garlic bulbs for 75 cents to a dollar each, you win.
Pete sells garlic in pints and you get 6 decent sized bulbs for $3.50. So roughly 58 cents each. Can’t beat that for fresh, organic and non-sprayed garlic.
Out of the 6 bulbs, 2-3 are big enough to use for planting and I’ll eat the rest.
When purchasing garlic individually, buy the biggest bulbs you can find! If you have to stop at several roadside stands, so be it. It’s worth it.
And if you do have any questions, you can always ask the seller directly if their garlic has been sprayed.
Maybe it’s time for you and your family to take a ride out into the country! Get some squash and pumpkins while there!
Big garlic cloves versus small garlic cloves
It’s almost always true that a bigger bulb will have bigger cloves (seed) sheltered inside them to plant. Bigger is better, you know this!
Bigger cloves produce bigger bulbs the following year. So you want to plant the bigger cloves as seed and eat the small ones.
Each bulb has various sized cloves inside it with some being much bigger than others. Three to four cloves will be big enough to plant. The rest? Eat them!
In my experience, most bulbs will harbor 5-10 cloves inside to sort into planting and eating piles.
Be careful when peeling apart the bulbs not to damage or nick the cloves, if you do, they may not grow. Especially if you cut the blunt end where the roots will eventually form. No good!
Don’t waste your time planting tiny cloves. They will still grow but the bulbs will be tiny. So when harvest time comes, you’ll be fighting tiny bulbs. Not much to eat and nothing to plant. Super hard to chop up. A vicious cycle.
Separating garlic cloves
After you’ve harvested your garlic, wash them thoroughly and dry them prior to planting.
For purchased roadside stand garlic, if they are not washed, you’ll want to do so to get all the excess dirt and grime off.
After the bulbs have dried, peel apart those bulbs to see what you’ve got for planting purposes!
Hopefully at lest 3-4 cloves will be big enough to plant, especially out of the bigger bulbs.
When purchasing garlic to plant, you need to know how many bulbs you’re hoping to harvest the following summer.
Each clove will produce its own bulb the next year. Plant 10 cloves, get 10 bulbs. It’s that simple. Plant only 5 cloves, get only 5 bulbs.
If you want enough garlic to eat, plant, and share with neighbors, I’d plant at least 20 cloves if you have the space! Have you seen those recipes on Pinterest for roasted chicken that require 20 fresh garlic cloves!
Until you are ready to plant, you’ll want to lay those garlic cloves in a cool, dry place. A cardboard box is a great place. Your basement or sheltered porch area in the shade will work.
Planting cloves can not touch. Organic garlic cloves should always be stored in single layer. When they are 100% bone dry, you can toss them into a box until you plant.
Don’t separate your bulbs into cloves until you are ready to plant, with 2-3 days leeway. This will give them time to dry so they don’t rot.