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Grow the Easiest Veggie Ever : Garlic

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Food | 0 comments

Grow the Easiest  Veggie Ever: Garlic

Regardless of where you live in northern climates, October is the right time to plant garlic. Simply split the big heads into individual cloves and plant them pointy side up.

I need more soil and I have a full Speedibin composter. Yay! It is time to empty the bin and plant my garlic. I live in a mild climate so I can plant garlic in pots. Everywhere else it is better planted right into the garden or soil.

Splitting big heads into cloves that in turn grow to become heads lets you expand from a few cloves this fall to a self-fulling supply into the future. This is a clove of Elephant garlic but it didn’t do well for me and was tasteless compared to the regular spicy garlic I first bought at the Ganges market in Salt Spring Island in the fall of 2009 and continue to grow.

Most gardeners are planting in the ground this month but I love the results I get from my really large root pouches (I use 45 gallon bags so send me an email if you are interested in trying this size.)

Four bulbs were divided into 24 cloves and planted into this 45 gallon root pouch this week.

Anyhow, I fill my grow bags with soil as I empty my patio pots, potato pots and planters. I like using fresh compost for potatoes every year in my pots but garlic is not as fussy so old soil is fine for them. Later, if and when I empty my garlic pots of soil, I spread it out on my garden beds to boost the soil there. I do this so I can gradually add biochar to my garden, but that’s another story. (see my Co-composting  with Biochar article HERE)

The speedibin allows me to make compost with food waste without pests. The metal screen on the bottom encourages worms but discourages rodents. The metal siding is also tough enough to keep rodents out. If you want to make fast compost without pests you need a speedibin.

Once my pots are filled with the old soil I have scavenged I add 15 cm of  my freshly dug and screened compost to the top of the pots I am filling. And then I plant garlic by plunging it deep into the soil.

Bulbs selected for planting in soil bags are firm and clean from this year’s harvest. I plant the size I want to harvest in the bags anytime in October.

Regardless of where you live in northern climates, October is the right time to plant garlic. Simply split the big heads into individual cloves and plant them pointy side up.


A single clove varies in size but is usually about 2-3 cm long (1-1.5″). Leave the paper wrapping on the clove when you plant it.

Make sure to cover the top tip of each clove with at least double the bulb’s size in soil. So a 2 cm tall clove is covered with 4-8 cm of soil or – in my case –  compost. Leave 4-6 cm between cloves in the bed or pot – about the same distance you would space other small bulbs.

Planting is so easy because the newly filled pots are full of soft soil and compost. Line the cloves up where you want to plant them and just push the cloves in to the depth they need. If you are working outside in garden soil you might need a spade or trowel to lift soil before planting garlic. Or maybe you need to grow more compost to soften your soil for future crops.

Store bulbs in a cool dry place until you either plant them or eat them. If you grew them yourself remember to trim back the stem so it is 2-4 cm long.


Have you tasted fresh garlic? Isn’t it crisp, spicey and delightful? If you need some, get it now from your local farmer or farmer’s market. If you grow your own you are not eating old rubbery garlic from overseas. Some estimates say up to say 90% of the garlic we eat  comes from China. If that is your comparison you won’t believe how crisp and fresh the new crop of local garlic tastes.

And what if you garden on a patio or small deck in a cooler climate but still want to plant in pots? Just store a head or two of garlic in a paper bag in your fridge over winter. Come early spring, when it starts to sprout,  you can pop it into a pot on your patio.

In each garlic head there are 6-8 individual cloves. The flat or bottom end of a clove goes into the soil. This fabulous clove came from my son in Northern BC and I expanded the five bulbs he gave me last year into 26 bulbs this year.


Garlic is the easiest crop ever and fresh garlic tastes so delicious and yummy. If you want to grow it outdoors this winter get it in the ground this month. It will sprout in early spring and you will be delighted when you harvest it next summer.

Garlic is lovely in so many recipes including Bruschetta made fresh from my own tomatoes and garlic.

PS In case you are wondering, I harvest my garlic in late July and plant spinach for fall salads into the same pot on the day of harvest. Yes every space is double cropped when you have garlic in your garden. Also, I clip off the scapes when they appear in June and a new study says this boosts garlic bulb weight by  23% . See that Canadian study HERE

By spring, heads kept cool over winter start to sprout. If the ground outside is still frozen you can separate cloves and plant into pots for transplanting outside once weather is good. Another option is to leave them on counter until  soil is thawed and then plant directly outside.

Last night’s pizza included three of my favourite vegetables: freshly picked Jasper tomatoes and Basil from my greenhouse plus roasted mashed garlic spread over the homemade crust. Yummy stuff. 

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