Helen’s guide to growing garlic


Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing garlic. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, coriander, cucurbits, ginger & turmeric, mint, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

Also, read Robin Gale-Baker’s guide to growing garlic.

Additional material from Guy’s tips: is now really the right time to plant garlic?

In a Sustainable Macleod newsletter Robin Gale-Baker ruminated about whether the recent warm weather means that we should be deferring our garlic planting. She and I have subsequently debated the subject in more detail. It is a tricky issue, with no clear answer. The salient facts are:

  1. In Melbourne, garlic is often planted in April.
  2. Some people think that the April soil is sometimes too warm for garlic planting.
  3. According to Gardenate, it is ok to leave the planting until May (or even June).
  4. Like onions, garlic plants are sensitive to the length of the day, with the start of bulb formation (and the end of leaf growth) being triggered by a day length exceeding X hours. (This website says that X=13 and this website says that this will happen on 13th October.)

If you plant too early (i.e. when it is too warm), a risk is apparently that the resulting bulbs don’t divide into separate cloves. If you plant too late, a risk is apparently smaller bulbs (because, per day length, the garlic starts trying to form bulbs when it is too young). One potential way around this dilemma is to keep the garlic in the fridge for 30-40 days before planting. I am going to try all the possible options and will report back in due course.

I decided to run a controlled experiment. Rows of garlic were planted two weeks apart over an 8-week period from mid April to mid June. In addition, some garlic was kept in the fridge for 40 days from mid April and then planted. All the plants died back at the same time (second half of November) and were harvested on 24th November. The key results were:

  1. The April plantings produced a normal number of normal-sized garlics with normal cloves.
  2. The May plantings produced the same results as the April plantings but in a bit less time.
  3. The non-refrigerated June plantings produced much smaller bulbs, half of which were not divided into cloves.
  4. The refrigerated June plantings (perhaps surprisingly) produced the same results as the April and May plantings.

The conclusion: continue to plant your garlic in April or May even if the weather is warm. If you forget, try putting your garlic into the fridge for a bit before planting.

garlicWith wintery weather underway, it can be difficult to find something cold hardy to plant in the veggie patch. But garlic loves the cold weather. In fact the more it receives, the better, as the cold is essential for large bulb formation.

Garlic can be planted in Melbourne from early April to late June. Surprisingly it’s a perennial, but usually grown as an annual and harvested from late November into December.

The downside of growing garlic is it takes up space in the veggie patch for around six to seven months. However its advantages include being relatively free from pests and (as long as it’s kept well-weeded and receives reasonable rainfall) pretty much fuss free. Of course it tastes great!


There are many varieties, categorised as ‘hardneck’ (firmer tuft above the garlic bulb) or ‘softneck’ (softer tuft, milder flavour, longer storage). We have found the hardneck varieties easier to grow and less prone to rot, but suggest you try both.

To obtain garlic for planting, purchase garlic bulbs from reputable suppliers who haven’t treated the garlic with growth retardants and chemicals. Farmers’ markets offer good choice and supply and you can check with the farmer directly on these aspects. Alternatively, garlic can be purchased in punnets, giving you the advantage of having someone else start the growing process for you.

If you have purchased bulbs, separate the bulb into individual cloves. Only plant the large, outside cloves – keep the small ones for eating. Large cloves produce large garlic – don’t waste your time with the small ones.


Plant cloves pointy end up, just under the soil. Mulch with a 3cm layer of straw or equivalent – make sure the straw is loose, so the green garlic tops can push their way through when growing. Plant in the sunniest spot you have.


Garlic is generally a ‘pest free’ crop. However, if you grow a large amount, watch out for the cockatoos in the early stages, who can destructively rip them out of the ground. If this is a problem, place a net over the garlic for the first few months.


Keep weed free!! This usually means weeding two to three times over the growing period. If grown in good soil at initial planting, extra fertilisation is not usually necessary; however, if the green tops of the garlic start to look yellow, fertilise with a liquid fertiliser.

Generally it rains sufficiently over winter to eliminate any need for watering; however, if the ground gets dry, then water.

Harvesting and drying

Garlic is usually ready to harvest around end of November to early December. When the green tops have died back by about one third, feel the garlic under the soil to check if distinct bulbs have formed – if so, it’s ready. Don’t wait until the tops have completely died back, or the garlic can often rot. It is easiest to harvest during a dry period – use a fork to gently lever out – don’t pull out by the tops. Don’t be concerned if it’s flowered.

Garlic can be stored by hanging, laying on airy racks above ground, or plaited and hung out of direct sunlight. If you want to make garlic plaits, do this whilst tops are still green – once the tops have dried, it is difficult.

Garlic takes about two weeks to dry; however, if you can’t wait, use it ‘green’, which means it will be very juicy. The garlic tops and flowers can also be used in cooking.

And finally…

Elephant garlic is also great to grow – note this is actually a variety of leek, not a garlic. It can be planted and harvested a few weeks later than garlic. The huge blue flowers look stunning in a cottage garden and the cloves have a milder flavour for eating.

Since the article above was published, Robin Gale-Baker and I have had a series of conversations about garlic planting. If you plant garlic too early (i.e. when it is too warm), the resulting bulbs may not divide into separate cloves. If you plant too late, the bulbs may remain small (because, driven by length of day, the garlic starts trying to form bulbs when it is too young). One potential way around this dilemma is to keep the garlic in the fridge for some time before planting. I experimented with different timings and different refrigerations and one of the conclusions was that refrigeration did, indeed, allow for later successful plantings. Read the results of the experiment. Here is Robin’s current advice: “In the ‘old days’, before climate change, garlic would often be planted in March but these days the ground is too warm then (the perfect time to plant garlic is when soil temperature is 10°C at a depth of 8cm at 9am in the morning). Arguably, this is also becoming the case in April. So, commercial growers are increasingly giving their garlic a ‘false winter’ by refrigerating it for 40 days and then planting it out in May. This process is called vernalisation and helps late-planted garlic to develop large bulbs. If you want to copy these growers, you should be purchasing your garlic soon and refrigerating (not freezing) it in mid- to late-March. Buy from reputable sources (probably online or at farmers’ markets as nurseries won’t yet be stocking garlic heads) and do not use imported garlic as this may well have been sprayed with methyl bromide and a shoot inhibitor.”

  108 Responses to “Helen’s guide to growing garlic”

  1. Hi Helen, I’m in Fremantle WA and sourced 2 different lots of garlic bulbs from local growers. Been storing them under the house over the summer. Is it to late to put them in the fridge now for a couple of weeks (our summer has dragged on this year)? And what do you think of soaking them overnight in Seasol solution prior to planting?
    regards Terry

    • I think that its ok to put them in the fridge now for a couple of weeks.

      I’ve no idea re soaking seasol but you could do a controlled experiment and report back.

  2. Hi, I’m Noel,

    What a fascinating article and forum with so much to digest.

    I have grown garlic for several years with mixed results and the answers to most of my problems have been answered here.

    This year, I’m going to plant it at the correct time as in previous years, I’ve just plonked in the ground when the cloves have started to shoot, hence the mixed results.

    My first question, which strangely has not been asked in this forum, has to do with refrigeration. Do you pop the whole bulb in the fridge, or separate the cloves first? Also, what do you store the bulbs/cloves whilst in the fridge? This is refrigeration prior to planting.

    Secondly, I’ve been growing spuds in commercial geofelt spud growing bags with sensational results; can I use one of the empty bags with fresh soil for growing garlic etc or do spuds leave a residue in the bag? I know that I have to use fresh soil (and not last season’s) each time I use the bags for potatoes but is there anything that would be detrimental to the garlic production?

    Thanks for an interesting hour of my afternoon.

    Noel from Traralgon.

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Noel.

      Re the garlic: just put the whole bulb in the fridge. It doesn’t matter what, if anything, you store the garlic in. All you are trying to do is to cool it down.

      Re the potatoes: it is fine to grow garlic in soil that was previously used to grow potatoes in.

      • Thank you!!!
        I have had a crop of potatoes and was wondering if I could plant garlic afterwards.

        • Hi Mary-Jane,

          Yes, its fine to plant garlic afterwards. Just make sure that you have actually got rid of all the potatoes.

  3. Hello and thanks in advance!

    I live in the USA May to October and Australia November to April. Will my garlic make it if I plant and leave it until I come back or is this a crazy undertaking?

    I really like your stuff … peace and love. xxx

    • Hi Tami,

      This could work out perfectly for you! In Australia, plant your garlic in April and then harvest it in December. In USA, plant your garlic in October or November and then harvest it in June.

  4. My garlic sprouts in the ground before they mature. Why?

    • Hi John,

      I think you’re referring to your garlic effectively ‘growing twice’ – i.e. it puts on some secondary growth from the inside cloves. It should be almost mature, so I’d harvest as soon as the larger leaves start to die back, to prevent the smaller secondary growth depleting the garlic cloves that it’s grown.

      Regards, Helen

  5. Hi Helen,

    About a month ago I discovered my garlic were badly infected with black aphid. I sprayed them several times with soapy water and then once with neem oil, this fixed the problem. However some of the garlic have leaves that have dried up and all the others are laying on the ground. Today I decided to harvest the garlic. There was nothing to be found under the dry stems (must have rotted bulbs and roots) and the ones laying on the ground have bulbs the size of a small raspberry, smaller than the original clove. Is that a normal size for this time of year? Does the bulbs do most of their growing during spring?

    • Hi Lydia,

      Garlic normally harvests around late November.

      Unfortunately, the black aphids have affected the garlic plants and destroyed any further growth, possibly before you were able to notice the problem.

      It is hard to stop this problem occurring once the black aphids start to mass – the suggestion I have is to get onto it very early next year if it happens and constantly check for it.

      Regards, Helen

  6. This is such an informative page Melbourne-based about all things garlic. I would like help with what mulch is most suitable for the garlic that I planted in April. I have tried lucerne, though it has either been carried away by birds or decomposing at a fast rate. Is it okay to mulch my garlic, which has healthy green stems, with whoflungdung mulch? Any advice would be most appreciated.

    • Hi Nadia,

      I haven’t had any experience with this type of mulch, so would be interested in other reader’s comments. You could experiment with a small amount of your garlic and see what results you get.

      Generally, I’ve mulched with a layer of straw – which does have a tendency to blow around a little, but is loose enough to let the garlic shoots grown through.

      Regards, Helen

    • Hi Nadia,

      I mulch my garlic with sugarcane mulch at 7-8 cm (3″) thickness. It needs to be loosened up to avoid solid lumps to allow the garlic shoots to find their way through the mulch. Sugarcane mulch has no seeds in it and at this thickness I manage to keep weeds almost 100% at bay!

  7. Hi Helen,

    Thanks for this info. SE Melbourne suburb. I have started my garlic bulbs in bottles of water. The shoots are about 6 inches tall and the roots about 3 inches long and sitting in the bottle of water. When I plant do I cut off the green part and plant, or leave it? Do I cover the green part all except for the tip?

    Thanks for your help.


    • I’ve never tried starting garlic this way. However, I’d recommend keeping the green shoots as is and leaving around 1–2cm of the green shoot beneath the soil or mulch level when you plant.

      Regards, Helen

  8. Do you think its ok to plant garlic now (April 2022) or wait until May given we are still having warm weather?

    • Hi Lisa,

      I think that it is ok to plant garlic now but that it would also be ok to wait until May.

  9. Thanks for all this information. How deep does the soil need to be in a pot and how close can you put the garlic together when planting?

    • Hi Leone,

      Garlic can be planted closely, say 10-15 cms apart.

      More soil depth is always good up to, say, 30cm.

  10. I have had a large number of very small insects that looked like little black spiders all over my garlic and onions making the leaves curl up. Just wondering what they could be?

    • Hi Anthony,

      They sound like black aphids, which will kill your plants if left on them. Garlic and onions are particularly prone to them, and best to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

      There are a number of remedies for getting rid of them, including neem oil and home made sprays. Internet research will give you a number of options.

      Regards, Helen

  11. Hi Helen,

    I planted mid April in a sunny spot using the best potting mix you can buy. I dug one up today but it was just a small bulb, with green and brown leaves and a height of only 12cm high. What is happening to my garlic? Please help me!

    • Hi Patrick,

      You’ve done all the right things with planting, however garlic should grow strongly at this time of year and get considerably taller. Harvest is late November.

      However, you mention brown leaves. This could indicate rust, which will hamper the plant’s growth and can destroy it. Without seeing the leaves, I’m guessing this could be your issue. Rust is a fungal disease and spreads in moist conditions.

      Otherwise, if your plants are still green (with only the occasional leave dying off), just keep it growing until end of November, then harvest.

      Regards, Helen

  12. Hello, l have read that garlic plants repel snakes. Can l grow garlic and leave it in the ground?

  13. Hi,

    I’ve bought several small garlic plants in smallish pots, one per pot. Instead of transplanting, I was thinking of submerging half the pot into the garden beds. I was hoping that the roots would then grow through the pot and the plants would still form reasonable bulbs. As it’s close to the end of August, would this be a better option than transplanting?

    I’ve grown garlic before without much success. So I was intending to water regularly with worm tea and seasol.

    Your thoughts?

    • Hi Robin,

      You could try that, but I suspect your garlic may turn out very small. I’d recommend carefully transferring what’s in the pots into your garden beds, not disturbing the soil or garlic in the pots as you do it.

      You may find you still end up with small garlic when harvest time comes in late November, as it’s quite late to be planting it.

      Regards, Helen

  14. Is mushroom compost good for garlic? Can I plant the new cloves into compost or do I need to buy vege mix? Thanks for your super info.

    • Hi Christine, yes buy the veggie mix and dig the mushroom compost into it. The mushroom compost acts as a soil conditioner.
      You could also dig in some lime and chicken manure.

      Regards, Helen

      • I have a chicken pen with chickens. I put all my grass cutting in there. Can I mix that with the soil before I plant my garlic or do I use it as a compost for on top of the soil after I plant the garlic?

        • Hi Pauline,

          If the chickens have eaten the grass and you’re now left with chicken manure, the chicken manure is fine to mix with soil before you plant garlic.

          However, if the grass cuttings are still as grass, then I wouldn’t mix them with the soil, or use them as mulch. They will contain seeds, which will grow up as weeds and block your garlic from growing.

          Regards, Helen

    • I also have problems getting big cloves of garlic and would like to know if you can help me to know which is the best soil to buy. Is it good to get soil that has cow manure mixed into it to help get bigger bulbs?

      • Hi Maria,

        I’d go to your local nursery supplier and ask for their best soil for growing vegies – this will be suitable for use with garlic too.

        Add some chicken manure, lime and mushroom compost – dig well into the soil you buy.

        Finally, a sunny spot and adequate water (not soggy) is also required.

        Plant garlic cloves late March to early April, to harvest in late November.

        Regards, Helen

  15. What varieties grow best in the climate of Melbourne? I’ve never grown Garlic before and I’m looking to try out 3 different varieties.
    What has caught my eye are the Spanish varieties like ‘Rojo De Castro’ and ‘Spanish Roja’. The later, being a recommended cultivar.
    The last variety that looks promising is the Dunganksi. What do you think? If there is one cultivar that just does better than the others by miles than I will try that haha.

    Thank you, Jim.

  16. I gave garlic plants that have sprouted and are about 20cms in length and it’s only January. What do I do with them? They are in a bowl of seaweed extract water … can I put them back in the fridge or should I put them into the ground?

    • Hi Vishnu,

      It’s really too early to plant garlic (late March onwards, when the weather cools, is the time). However, if they’ve sprouted, they won’t be overly good for eating, or putting back in the fridge. Since you’ll need to do something with them, you could try planting them and see what happens. Fingers crossed they won’t die off and keep growing right through winter. However, the likely outcome is they’ll die off due to the hot weather.

      Regards, Helen

    • Can I plant in late March in Melbourne?

  17. Hi, do I have to keep watering the garlic now when its almost harvest time?

    • No, you should stop watering now.

      • Can you get garlic seeds from flowers and re-plant? Thank you.

        • Yes, you can (but I’m not sure why you would want to!).

          • Please, why is garlic from seed undesirable?

            Also, I forgot to plant garlic and recently re-discovered the bulbs. What will happen if I plant them in Melbourne in August?

            Will they keep till next year, is there something I can do, or should I cut my losses and eat them?

            Thank you.

            • Hi Ismene,

              Garlic rarely produces seed, and if it does, it takes a long time to produce garlic from it. Therefore, garlic is grown from splitting up the previous year’s cloves.

              If you plant the garlic bulbs you found now, they will produce very small garlic, as they haven’t had the cold of winter to help formation.

              Therefore, I’d eat them (I’m surprised they haven’t sprouted?) and plant new cloves late March – early April next year.

              Regards, Helen

  18. Hi Helen, this happened to my garlic (see https://i.imgur.com/R0mkzBv.jpg and https://i.imgur.com/nw3uCE7.jpeg). Is it edible and poisonous? How should I deal with this situation? Hope to get your reply, thank you very much! ^-^

    • Hi Aaliyah,

      I’ve seen this happen when the garlic effectively ‘grows twice’ – ie: it puts on some secondary growth from the inside cloves. I recall it happening to softneck garlic, rather than hardneck, but others may be able to confirm their own experiences.

      It’s fine to eat. Try hardneck garlic next year, and see if this stops the problem.

      Regards, Helen

  19. Hi Helen, The leaves of my garlic plants have a rust coloured, powdery looking substance on them. I assume it’s some kind of fungal or mildew infection. Is there much hope for this crop now?

    • Hi Luke,

      Yes, it’s a fungal disease, common in hot, humid conditions. Getting rid of it very early is the way to go, with a sulphur spray. However, as your garlics are likely to harvest in a few weeks, it probably won’t damage your crop greatly, so I’d leave it and harvest your garlic as normal as the tops start to die off.

      Regards, Helen

  20. If I keep gravel in a pot and then soil and garlic bulb inside it and fill with soil and water everyday, plzzz say what will happen.

    • Hi Ayesha,

      I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. With garlic, you plant cloves, not whole bulbs. If you plant it now, it will die because garlic is a cool season crop. If you plant it in April or May next year, it will grow just like any other plant.

  21. Hi Helen,

    I planted 12 garlic cloves on the 3rd of June this year and they were growing well (i think) until a few weeks ago when half of these plants bent at the ground level overnight (looked almost like someone stepped on them).

    The stems now look weak and dying. The bent part just above the ground looks dead or wet brown. I only water them about 3 times a week. Would you know what happened? Are these plants still surviving?

    At the moment, I’m just using stakes to prop them up.

    • Hi Eve,
      Unfortunately the plants with the bent stem have reached the end of their life. Depending on where you live, I have seen kangaroos trample on garlic overnight and basically that’s the end of it. Alternatively, an aphid infestation can cause a similar behaviour, or garlic that gets too wet. I’d harvest what you can from them and hopefully the remaining ones will last the distance until end of November.
      Regards, Helen

  22. Hi Helen,
    Is it too late now to plant garlic in aquaponic here in Beveridge Victoria ?
    Also, if planted in soil, is garlic shade tolerant?

  23. Hi Helen,
    I first tried to grow garlic when we moved to Tassie in 2013. We lost 70% of the first crop to fungus. So we tried again the following year. We broke the rich red loamy soil down with horse manure and we still lost about 40% to fungus. Anyway, I was at the local farmers market and I spoke to one of the Asian ladies who was selling garlic, and told her about my problem. She was lovely and happy to give me the following advice:
    Before planting,
    1. Make the soil as friable as possible, by adding a humus base. I used copious quantities of horse manure. (We’ve got a few horses)
    2. Sprinkle ‘raw builders lime’ to the soil. (very important).
    3. Soak cloves in a solution of Sodium Bicarbonate and Seasol (seaweed solution) for a few hours before sowing.
    Guess what – 99.9% success.
    I also believe that Tassie is ideal to grow garlic, as ground temperature gets to below 5-7 degrees when the bulbs are forming. Unfortunately, to grow it as a commercial crop is a bit hard as it is very labour intensive, and garlic hates competition and needs to be kept fairly free of weeds.
    Have you heard if any one has invented a garlic planting machine? Harvesting is no problem as an onion harvesting machine will more than do the job.
    Kindest regards.

  24. Is any way that you can tell whether garlic was treated with growth retardants and chemicals? I want to get some garlic for seeds and am not sure which one is a good one for seeds.

    • Hi Maria,

      Buying garlic that’s organically grown from a reputable supplier is the best way of obtaining garlic for planting. Check with the grower beforehand, if possible, that it hasn’t been treated.. Otherwise, there is no way to tell the difference between treated and untreated garlic – until it grows, where the treated garlic will often only grow a little, then die off a few weeks later.

      Regards, Helen

  25. Can you eat garlic that was sold for planting if you have too much to plant?

    • Hi Barbara,

      Yes, it’s fine to eat garlic intended for planting. It may not have been stored as hygienically as that for eating, so wash before use.

  26. Garlic can be frustratingly easy to grow. Easy because we just plonk cloves of garlic in the soil. Frustrating because it is meant to be easy but so often we end up digging out tiny bulbs containing even tinier cloves.

  27. Hi Helen,

    I’m in the SE suburbs of Melbourne. I planted in late March in a raised bed with good amount of rotted down sheep manure. The garlic boomed and grew very quickly. Now mid-April, the leaves are starting to yellow and looking a little unhappy. Can you advise on possible problems please?

    • Hi Luke,

      A couple of possible reasons:

      1. Some garlic is treated to retard sprouting (i.e. shops don’t like it sprouting, as it affects sales). In this case, it will grow up, then die off.

      2. Assuming the garlic hasn’t been treated, we’ve had lots of rain lately. It’s possible the garlic’s had too much water and is starting to rot. Fingers crossed, it dries out and rights itself.

      The good news is, it’s not too late to plant more!

      Regards, Helen

  28. Hi Helen,

    Can garlic be grown in hothouses in Virginia, SA? The hothouses differ in area but for calculation sake what seed garlic is required for 100 sq.M area and what will the expected yield be in that area? What is generally the price of garlic seeds in SA?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Pakhil,

      Neither Helen nor I have any informed answers to your questions. You would have to ask a commercial grower.

  29. Hi. After the garlic has been harvested, can the skin be peeled off and then be stored in the freezer till use?

    • Hi Pri,

      Yes, you can peel the garlic and freeze the cloves. They go a bit soft in the freezer but still taste fine in cooking.

  30. I have harvested my garlic and noticed some garlic has a blueish green tinge to the outer (normally white) skin. What could cause this? Is it safe to eat?

    • Hi Catherine,
      Without seeing it, it’s a hard to tell. However, if it’s mould, then the garlic will be soft and at the extreme, crumble away in your hand. If the garlic is firm and looks otherwise fine, then I wouldn’t be concerned. If you google ‘blue/green garlic’, you will see some photos to compare against.

      Regards, Helen

  31. Thank you for the advice. I have been growing a small amount of French garlic. To date, I will have 20 seeds for next year as its supposed to be the best, is that the case.

  32. Hi Helen,

    Thank you very much for your wonderful article.

    Could you please advise what is the minimum spacing between individual cloves as well as the minimum spacing between rows for a proper planting of garlic?

    Kind regards,

  33. Hi Helen,

    I’ve planted my garlic on 6th June this year, when do I expect harvest? Plants have thick trunks but no heads yet. Please advise.

    Kind regards,
    Jim Kapos

    • Hi Jim,

      Garlic will be ready to harvest late November – mid December but we need two dry weeks so that the bulbs are not damp when pulled. If they are, dry them in front of a blow heater. Don’t knock the bulbs together to remove soil as this bruises them and they deteriorate quickly.

      Garlic is ready for harvest when the bottom 4 leaves have withered and there are 4-6 green leaves remaining. This is roughly half brown, half green. The green leaves extend down into the bulb forming the skins. The more ‘skins’ you have, the longer the shelf life. Note that, as the lower leaves wither, they can be hard to see as they shrivel to almost nothing which can lead to harvesting too late in the mistaken belief that this process has not begun.

  34. Hello Helen,
    I live in South-eastern suburb of Melbourne. My garlic plants have an inch thick stems. In October, they have started growing new shoots. Is that normal? The new leaves are growing in the middle.
    I also have slight black aphid infestation which I just wipe off. How do I prevent it?
    Harry Who

    • Hi Harry,

      Yes, definitely continue to get rid of the black aphids, as they can really affect your crop. You could try a soapy spray – there will no doubt be an organic product on the market for it.

      The recent rains may have started your garlic growing strongly again. However, in the next few weeks you should notice the leaves start to yellow. When about 1/3 yellow down the leaf, it is time to harvest – this will probably be around end November. Not long until you can enjoy eating them!

      Regards, Helen

  35. Hi, we seem to have a very successful crop every year but, although they are dried in netting, they shoot early. How can we slow or prevent this please?

    • Hi Lyn,

      What variety of garlic are you growing? And how early is early? Garlic varieties divide into two broad types, hard-necks and soft-necks, and the hard-necks last less time before sprouting. Try a soft-neck next year.

  36. I want advice on growing my own ginger. If anyone can give me some advice on how to grow it, thanks.

  37. Hi, I’m Maria.

    I have tried for several years to try growing garlic but have ever got really good results and would like more advice on growing it. I tried with the cloves of garlic purchased from the supermarket with no results, now I would like to know where can I buy the cloves especially for planting and when exactly is the best time to plant. I in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Is it too late to plant it now? I also need help on soil preparation as well – do I put plenty of composting material or will that cause the garlic bulbs to rot?

    Can u give me some advice to get big bulbs – mine where so tiny I couldn’t even peel the skin off them?

    Has the garlic for planting been treated so it will grow better and where can we buy the cloves especially treated for planting?

    Does the garlic needs stored in the fridge before planting so it is cold for a few days?

    • Hi Maria,

      It is not too late to plant garlic but you need to act quickly. Put the garlic in the fridge for, say, 20 days and then plant in late May.

      You can buy garlic for planting from most nurseries that sell veggie seeds. Many farmers’ markets also sell garlic which you can either eat or plant. The garlic won’t have been treated for anything.

      Garlic doesn’t have any special requirements from the soil. Soil with composting material is fine.

  38. Hi Helen,

    Can I plant garlic in the same bed as last year’s garlic.

    Regards, Heather

  39. Hi Helen, I have had a great crop of garlic this year with flower heads producing bulblits (I think that is what they are called). Can I grow further crops from these?

    • Hi Narelle, yes you can grow from the bulblits. However, being small, it takes some years to get reasonable sized garlic from them. The cloves are a lot quicker. Regards, Helen.

  40. Hello Helen,

    I live in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and I would like to know if I can grow the Italian purple garlic? (I think that is what it’s called). I tried growing garlic earlier this year I grew tiny garlic bulbs. Why?

    • Hi Dani,

      When did you plant your garlic? Tiny garlic bulbs are usually a sign that you planted too late. In Melbourne, garlic should be planted in April or May.

  41. Hi Helen. I’m located in Brisbane. Planted Italian white based on recommendations for the climate. Garlic grew well until a month ago. Had a massive hailstorm after a very dry period. The garlic has now created various new thin leaves. On inspecting one, it seems like the cloves has started to grow inside the bulb. I wanted to grow the garlic for seed for next year. Question is, should I harvest all the garlic and let it dry out to stop the growth and will it grow next year? Also, some cloves have not formed. Can I harvest and re-plant next year and will it grow?

    • Hi Deon. I’m not experienced in growing garlic in warmer climates, but internet research recommends to plant around March in Brisbane and then harvest in September. As you have new growth appearing, I’d guess your garlic has been in too long. It may be inedible due to the new sprouts. If so, I’d keep it in the ground another season – digging it up and storing it will not work as it’s already re-sprouted, ready to go again. You may end up with it rotting if you get heavy rain over summer, but fingers crossed it will keep going and you can harvest next September.

  42. Last time I planted garlic (left them growing for 8 months) they ended up quite small. Why is that? What did I do wrong? Please.

    • Last year my garlic grew quite small. My location is Geelong.

      • Hi Charlie. I’m in Geelong, also. Last year I planted approx 90 bulbs, a mixture of organic from Noosa Farmerss Market and bulbs from Torquay (also organic), planted in mid April and harvested in early December, spaced 20 to 30cm, well dug in blood and bone and fortnightly seasol plant food, watered when needed, resulted in a very good crop with big heads. I’ve kept the biggest ones for this year.

    • To Mario and Charlie: In Melbourne, garlic needs cold winter months from April to mid-Oct for growing larger cloves. Plant the cloves between Feb and March so that they grow big enough to face the winter and probable nightly frost. Large cloves to plant, soft + loose composted soil, wider planting, weeding and watering is essential. Don’t leave them, nurse them. If the soil is not fertile spray liquid fertilizer. This is my personal experience.

    • Hi Helen
      Thanks for a great article. It has inspired me to grow garlic. Which we eat lots of!

      I don’t have much land to grow garlic and I note you state it takes up a lot of room.

      Can it successfully be grown at the base of fruit trees to deter pests? My veggie plot is not big and I’d rather keep it for veggies.

      Can garlic be grown in pots?


      • Hi Giuliana,

        Garlic can be grown at the base of fruit trees to deter pests, however if the leaves and branches of the tree block the sun, you garlic won’t grow well.

        Yes, it can be grown in pots (slightly less successfully than in the ground) – something like a 1/2 wine barrel would be great for a number of plants.

        Regards, Helen

  43. Do you have to wash dirt from garlic before drying? Sue

  44. I would like to know if garlics have to be kept watered till harvesting time. Thank you!

    • Hi Tom,

      Around harvest time (harvest time has just started), don’t water and keep the garlic dry. The tops will start to dry off, if they haven’t already. When the tops have died back by around a third, it’s usually time to get them out of the ground.

      Regards, Helen

  45. Hi Helen, thanks for your tips – I’m going to give it a go! One question: when preparing the (outside) cloves for planting, should I remove the papery cover and cut off the bottom bit where it attaches to the garlic head?

    • Hi Kerry. Leave the papery cover on the clove for protection. You can leave the bottom bit on too – however sometimes it snaps off which is also OK. The main thing is not to damage the individual clove. Regards, Helen

  46. I accidently put my garlic on the window sill to dry out. It has just started to turn green. It doesn’t smell like garlic; it barely has a smell.The cloves are gigantic. Can I still use them?

    • Hi Heather, if your cloves are gigantic with little smell, you may have elephant garlic (a leek). Some of ours have turned green too. They can still be eaten or planted, as long as the green is not a mould, which should be obvious on inspection. Normal garlic can look like this too. Regards, Helen

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