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Edition 30 - September 2023
Growing Garlic

Like garlic? Who doesn’t? Most often considered an herb or spice, did you know garlic is actually a vegetable? Garlic is a member of the onion family, and just like an onion, all parts of the garlic plant are edible, botanically classifying it as a vegetable.

Garlic has been used to season food in many parts of the world for thousands of years, and the health benefits of consuming garlic are numerous:

• Increases immune function

• Reduces cholesterol

• Lowers blood pressure

• Decreases bacteria

• Lessens inflammation

• Diminishes bone loss

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have garlic on hand for culinary and health purposes whenever you desire? You can if you grow your own!


Garlic is most often grown in the fall for one fundamental reason; fall planting produces larger bulbs. Planting at this time provides the cold treatment necessary for bulb development while also allowing plenty of time for the plant to set roots before winter. That being said, spring is the next best time of the year to plant. Still, you must replicate that cooling period by placing garlic bulbs in a paper bag in the refrigerator for vernalization prior to planting.

Choose garlic available at your local garden center and not cloves found in the grocery-store. Unlike those purchased for eating, cloves sold for growing will not have been sprayed with a growth inhibitor used to prevent sprouting in storage. When purchasing, select large, firm cloves without any signs of damage, softening, or bruising to provide the healthiest crop.

Two Types of Garlic

There are numerous varieties of tasty garlic to grow, but only two specific types.

1) Hardneck Garlic

  • Cold tolerant for Northern gardens
  • Produces a central stem called a “scape” that is edible
  • Fewer but larger cloves than softneck (average 5)
  • Requires 10 - 12 weeks of cold treatment

2) Softneck

  • Less cold tolerant, used in Southern gardens
  • No central stem: leaves may be harvested and eaten in the spring
  • More but smaller cloves than hardneck (average 7)
  • Requires 3 - 4 weeks of cold treatment


It’s easy to grow garlic! It is resistant to deer and rabbits and makes a great companion plant when planted with other vegetables. Do not, however, plant garlic alongside peas or beans, as it will stunt their growth.

To cultivate the most incredible tasting and biggest garlic bulbs, plant cloves in a full-sun location in rich, well-drained soil. The better the soil, the better the garlic. And, whether fall or spring planting, bed preparation is always best accomplished in the fall.

To achieve the finest results when planting in -

In-ground beds 

Till or fork native soil to at least 10 inches deep, removing all rocks and debris, and evenly spread at least 3 inches of Quoddy Blend™ Lobster Compost atop the soil surface and till or fork again. CLICK HERE to SHOP


Soil should be loosened with a garden fork to at least a depth of 10 inches. Evenly spread at least 3 inches of Castine Blend™ Raised Bed Mix atop the soil surface and turn it into the bed. CLICK HERE to SHOP


Fill containers with Bar Harbor Blend™ Potting Soil. Make sure that containers have adequate drainage holes to prevent rot. CLICK HERE to SHOP

Coast of Maine Organic Plant Food for Buds & Blooms

When amending the soil in garden beds and filling containers, incorporate Fish Bone MealOrganic Plant Food for Buds & Blooms. This high-phosphorus fertilizer will promote root growth and enhance winter hardiness.


Planting Tips:

  • Leave the papery skin intact
  • Space cloves 6 inches apart
  • Plant cloves 3 inches deep
  • Pointed side up
  • Cover cloves with 3 inches of soil
  • Water after planting
  • Keep soil moist but not soggy
  • Add a layer of mulch



Garlic bulbs are ready to lift when the lower leaves turn brown, and all others begin to yellow. Before harvesting, allow the soil to dry out a bit. Harvest garlic by gently loosening the soil around each bulb and lifting it. Brush off all excess soil before curing.

Tip: Harvest time is not a precise science, so test a bulb or two before pulling up the entire crop.


Curing should be done out of direct sunlight in a shady spot with adequate air circulation. Spread bulbs, single layer, not touching, on a drying screen for 2 to 3 weeks. Once fully cured, remove the leaves and roots with clean, sharp scissors.


Store garlic in a dry location with good ventilation at 45 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit and about 50% humidity. Never store garlic in the refrigerator.

Garlic is an incredibly versatile vegetable, contributing to both excellent health and great taste. To get the most from your crop, remember that spring-planted garlic will produce smaller bulbs than garlic planted in the fall and is lifted later in the season. Try planting in both seasons to extend your harvest window and provide green garlic (softneck) and scapes (hardneck) for savory spring recipes.


Learn why it is best to go with Coast of Maine®
when growing garlic.


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