How To Grow Garlic

Before we started gardening we thought garlic couldn’t be grown in the UK. In all honesty I never really spent much time thinking about where is came from. Now we know better. The UK is perfect for growing garlic.

Garlic belongs to the alium family which also includes onions, shalotts and leeks. It comes in two different types, softneck and hardneck. Softneck tends to store better and can be platted where as hardnceck should be used pretty quickly after harvesting.


Why do I have to plan to grow garlic? Good question. Firstly garlic can be planted either in the autumn or the spring. Secondly if you plant the right varieties at the right time you’ll have garlic for almost the entire year. We tend to chose to the Autumn planting varities and order during September.

Planting & Cultivating

Planting garlic comes in bulbs in the same way as you buy it from the supermarket. A word of warning. Don’t plant garlic that you bought from the supermarket as it’s not disease resistant. Break the bulbs into cloves and plant fat end down. Ideally you plant garlic into free draining soil. The main reason for this that because they’re in the ground over winter this helps prevent rotting. Space the cloves 10cm apart and each row 20cm apart.

As the scapes start appearing pick them off.  This makes the garlic plant put more effort into growing the bulbs rather than the scape.

Soft neck garlic scape

Soft neck garlic scape

Hard neck garlic scape

Hard neck garlic scape

This only applies to soft neck varieties as the scapes grow on top.  Scapes for hard neck varieties actually grow in the neck itself.


There are two options for when to pick garlic.  If you’re planting in the autumn most garlic will be ready for picking in June and July the following year but if you want green garlic you can pick it in May.

If you want normal garlic start picking once the plant stems have started to die back.  They usually go yellow and fall over.  I also remove some of the soil and inspect the bulb.  If it looks like one you’d buy in a supermarket it’s probably good to pick.


Garlic drying on a tray

Drying garlic


There’s no reason why you can’t use the garlic straight away but if you want to store it it will need drying.  Lay it out on a tray in the sun to dry until no more green at all can be seen in the plant stems.  This can take up to four weeks.  Remember to bring it in a night and don’t let it get wet.


As I’ve mentioned above soft neck varieties store better.  Once dry plat the stems tie a loop of string around the top and hang them in a cool dark place.  With hard neck varieties use them as soon as you can.

To find out what varieties are hard and soft neck take a look at our garlic varieties table.

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