How To Plant Garlic In Fall [ Full Guide ]

Garlic is a popular and versatile crop that can be easily grown in a home garden. Fall is the ideal time to plant garlic as it allows the bulbs to establish roots before the cold winter sets in, resulting in healthier and more robust plants come spring. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of planting garlic in the fall, including the benefits of fall planting, choosing the best variety of garlic, preparing the soil, and timing considerations. By following these detailed instructions, you can ensure a successful garlic harvest next year.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Garlic In Fall

  1. Selecting Garlic bulbs: Choose high-quality, disease-free garlic bulbs for planting.
  2. Preparing the soil: Ensure the soil is well-drained, fertile, and free of weeds. Amend the soil with organic matter if necessary.
  3. Separating cloves: Carefully separate the cloves from the bulb, ensuring they remain intact and undamaged.
  4. Planting depth and spacing: Plant the cloves with the pointed end up, approximately 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in rows.
  5. Mulching and watering: Apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Water the cloves thoroughly after planting.
  6. Winter care: Monitor the garlic bed over the winter months and provide protection if needed.
  7. Harvesting: Be patient and wait for the garlic to mature, usually in late spring or early summer.

Benefits Of Planting Garlic In Fall

Planting garlic in the fall offers several advantages that contribute to the overall success of the crop.

  1. Establishing Roots: Fall-planted garlic has the opportunity to establish a strong root system before winter sets in. This results in healthier and more robust plants when spring arrives.

  2. Larger Bulbs: Fall-planted garlic tends to produce larger bulbs compared to spring-planted garlic. The extended period of growth allows the bulbs to develop to their full potential.

  3. Early Harvest: By planting in the fall, garlic can be harvested earlier in the following year, typically in late spring or early summer. This allows for an earlier supply of fresh garlic.

  4. Weed Suppression: Fall-planted cloves have a head start on spring weeds, as their root systems are already established. This can help suppress weed growth and competition.

  5. Natural Pest Control: Planting garlic in the fall can act as a natural repellent for certain pests, contributing to a healthier and more balanced garden ecosystem.

Choosing The Best Variety Of Garlic For Fall Planting

Selecting the right variety of garlic is crucial for a successful fall planting. There are two main types of garlic to consider: hardneck and softneck.

  1. Hardneck Garlic: This type of garlic produces a hard central stalk or scape and is known for its strong, rich flavor. Hardneck varieties are well-suited for regions with cold winters, making them ideal for fall planting. They also produce fewer, but larger cloves.

  2. Softneck Garlic: Softneck garlic varieties do not produce a hard central stalk and are known for their flexibility and lengthy shelf life when cured. They tend to be more suitable for milder climates and are generally better suited for spring planting.

When selecting a specific variety of garlic, consider the climate and growing conditions in your region. Some popular varieties for fall planting include German Extra Hardy, Chesnok Red, Music, and Purple Stripe.

It’s important to obtain garlic bulbs from a reputable source to ensure they are disease-free and well-suited for fall planting. If possible, source bulbs from local growers or reputable nurseries specializing in garlic.

Preparing The Soil For Planting Garlic

Proper soil preparation is essential for the successful growth of garlic. Follow these steps to ensure your soil is ready for fall planting:

  1. Soil Testing: Start by conducting a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Garlic prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

  2. Weed Removal: Clear the planting area of any existing weeds and debris. This will minimize competition for nutrients and resources.

  3. Amending the Soil: If the soil test indicates a need, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve soil structure, fertility, and drainage.

  4. Tilling the Soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will create a loose, friable soil texture that allows for easy bulb formation.

  5. Adding Fertilizer: While garlic does not require excessive fertilization, incorporating a balanced fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content can benefit bulb development. Follow the guidelines provided by the soil test results.

By taking the time to properly prepare the soil, you are creating an optimal environment for garlic to thrive and develop healthy bulbs.

Timing And Temperature Considerations For Fall Planting

Timing is critical when it comes to planting garlic in the fall. In most regions, the ideal time for planting garlic is approximately 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes. This allows the cloves to establish roots without initiating top growth before winter dormancy.

The exact timing for fall planting will vary depending on your climate zone. Research the average date of the first frost in your area to determine the best window for planting. Additionally, consider the following temperature considerations:

  1. Soil Temperature: Aim to plant garlic when the soil temperature is between 50°F and 60°F. This allows for proper root establishment without triggering premature shoot emergence.

  2. Cold Treatment for Hardneck Garlic: In regions where winters are mild, hardneck garlic may benefit from a cold treatment before planting. This involves refrigerating the garlic bulbs for a few weeks prior to planting to simulate the cold temperatures required for bulb formation.

  3. Protecting Against Extreme Cold: In colder climates, consider applying a layer of mulch over the planted cloves to protect them from extreme temperature fluctuations during the winter months.

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By understanding the specific timing and temperature considerations for your region, you can ensure that your garlic cloves have the best opportunity to establish themselves before winter arrives.

Planting garlic in the fall is a rewarding and relatively low-maintenance gardening endeavor that can provide you with a bountiful harvest the following year. By carefully selecting high-quality garlic bulbs, preparing the soil, and timing the planting correctly, you can set the stage for successful garlic cultivation. Remember to choose the appropriate garlic variety for fall planting, tailor the soil preparation to your specific growing conditions, and consider temperature considerations for your region. With these comprehensive guidelines in mind, you can confidently plant garlic in the fall and look forward to a healthy and flavorful harvest in the months to come.

How To Prepare Garlic Bulbs For Planting

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful vegetable that is not only used in cooking but also boasts several health benefits. Planting garlic in the fall is an ideal time as it allows the bulbs to establish roots during the winter months and results in a bountiful harvest the following summer.

Before you begin planting garlic in the fall, it is important to ensure that you have high-quality bulbs that are healthy and free from diseases. Here are some steps to follow for preparing garlic bulbs for planting:

  1. Choose the Right Garlic Variety: Garlic is available in various varieties, each with its own unique flavor profile. Research and select a variety that suits your taste preferences and growing conditions.

  2. Select Healthy Bulbs: Look for garlic bulbs that are firm, plump, and have tight, unbroken skin. Avoid bulbs that are soft, moldy, or showing signs of disease or damage.

  3. Break the Bulbs into Cloves: Gently separate the garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Be careful not to damage the cloves in the process.

  4. Discard Damaged or Unhealthy Cloves: Inspect each clove for any signs of disease, mold, or damage. Discard any cloves that are suspect to ensure that only healthy cloves are planted.

  5. Treat the Bulbs: To prevent fungal and bacterial infections, you can soak the cloves in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for 30 minutes. Rinse the cloves thoroughly after soaking and allow them to dry before planting.

Essential Tools And Equipment For Planting Garlic In The Fall

To successfully plant garlic in the fall, it is essential to have the right tools and equipment on hand. Here are some items you will need:

  1. Garden Fork or Spade: A garden fork or spade is essential for loosening the soil and preparing the planting bed.

  2. Organic Compost or Fertilizer: Garlic plants benefit from well-amended soil. Have some organic compost or fertilizer ready to enrich the soil and provide essential nutrients.

  3. Garden Rake: A garden rake is useful for leveling the soil surface and removing any debris or rocks.

  4. Mulch: Mulch helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Prepare a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, for covering the garlic bed.

  5. Watering Can or Garden Hose: Adequate watering is crucial for the establishment of garlic plants. Have a watering can or garden hose available for watering the plants as needed.

  6. Garden Marker or Labels: To keep track of different garlic varieties or planting dates, it is helpful to have garden markers or labels available.

Step-by-Step Guide To Planting Garlic In The Fall

Now that you have prepared your garlic bulbs and gathered your tools, it’s time to start planting. Follow these step-by-step instructions to plant garlic in the fall:

  1. Choose a Suitable Planting Site: Garlic thrives in full sun and well-draining soil. Select a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight and has soil that is rich in organic matter.

  2. Prepare the Planting Bed: Use a garden fork or spade to loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches. Remove any weeds or debris and break up any large clumps of soil.

  3. Add Organic Matter: Garlic benefits from fertile soil. Incorporate organic compost or well-rotted manure into the planting bed, adding a layer of 2-3 inches and mixing it evenly into the soil.

  4. Create Raised Beds or Raised Rows: If your soil is heavy clay or drains poorly, consider creating raised beds or raised rows to improve drainage. This will prevent the bulbs from sitting in waterlogged soil and reduce the risk of rot.

  5. Plant the Garlic Cloves: Plant each garlic clove approximately 2-3 inches deep with the pointed end facing upwards. Space the cloves 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart.

  6. Cover and Mulch the Garlic Bed: After planting the cloves, cover them with soil, gently firming it around the cloves. Apply a layer of mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, to a depth of 4-6 inches. Mulching helps to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the bulbs from extreme temperature fluctuations.

  7. Water the Garlic Planting Bed: After planting, water the garlic bed thoroughly to ensure that the soil is evenly moist. Continue to monitor soil moisture levels and water as needed to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

  8. Label the Garlic Rows: Use garden markers or labels to identify the garlic varieties and planting dates. This will help you keep track of each variety’s progress as they grow.

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Caring For Garlic Plants In The Fall And Winter Months

After planting, garlic plants require minimal care during the fall and winter months. Here are some important tasks to perform to ensure the success of your garlic crop:

  1. Watering: Throughout the fall, continue to water the garlic planting bed if there is insufficient rainfall. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering, as this can lead to bulb rot.

  2. Weed Control: Keep the garlic bed free from weeds throughout the fall and winter. Weeds compete with garlic plants for nutrients and water, so regular weeding is important for the plants’ health.

  3. Remove Scapes (if required): Garlic plants may produce scapes, which are curly flower stems that emerge from the center of the plant. If you want to encourage larger bulb development, remove the scapes by cutting them close to the base. Scapes are edible and can be used in cooking.

  4. Mulch Maintenance: Check the mulch layer regularly to ensure that it remains thick and intact. If the mulch starts to thin out, add more to maintain adequate insulation and weed suppression.

  5. Protect from Extreme Cold: In regions with severe winters, consider applying a layer of straw, leaves, or other organic material on top of the mulch to provide additional insulation and protect the bulbs from freezing temperatures.

  6. Disease and Pest Management: Garlic is generally resistant to insects and diseases. However, be vigilant for signs of pests or diseases, such as onion white rot or garlic rust. If these issues arise, consult with a local agricultural extension office or horticulture expert for the best course of action.

Planting garlic in the fall is a rewarding endeavor that results in a flavorful harvest the following summer. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure that your garlic bulbs are planted correctly and receive the care they need during the fall and winter months. With a little preparation and regular attention, you can enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting your own homegrown garlic.

Choosing The Right Garlic Variety

If you haven’t tried gardening garlic before, now is the time to start. Planting garlic in the fall will yield a bigger and better harvest – with larger cloves and bulbs – than planting in the spring. Plus, it’s easy to do and doesn’t require any fancy equipment.

Garlic is a member of the allium family, which includes onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. It’s a versatile ingredient that adds an essential flavor to many dishes, making it a must-have in any kitchen. Here’s a step-by-step guide to planting garlic in the fall.

Before getting started, you need to choose the right garlic variety to plant. Garlic comes in two main types, hardneck and softneck, each with its own set of pros and cons.

Hardneck Garlic – This type of garlic is popular for its large cloves, easily peeled skin, and robust flavor. They produce a flower stalk called a scape, which is also edible and has a more mild garlic flavor. They are well-suited for colder climates and store for 4-6 months.

Softneck Garlic – This type of garlic is more commonly found in the grocery store. It has a milder flavor, and the bulbs store for up to a year. They are best for warmer climates and have a longer shelf life.

Both types are grown similarly, but hardneck garlic varieties are recommended for planting in colder climates.

Preparing The Soil

Garlic prefers well-draining soils with organic matter. It’s best to prepare the soil a few weeks before planting to allow it to settle and for nutrients to break down. You can add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to improve the soil structure, fertility, and water-holding capacity.

Garlic also prefers a neutral pH level between 6 and 7. You can test the soil pH level using a soil tester kit from your local garden center or extension office. If the pH is too high (alkaline), you can add sulfur or peat moss to lower it. If the pH is too low (acidic), you can add lime.

Planting Garlic

  1. Break the garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Choose only the largest and healthiest-looking cloves, as these will produce the largest bulbs.

  2. Plant the garlic cloves 2-3 inches deep, with the pointed end facing upward. Space the cloves 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart.

  3. Cover the cloves with soil and gently press the soil down to remove any air pockets. Water the soil well.

  4. After planting, mulch the bed with 4-6 inches of straw, leaves, or chopped hay. Mulching helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the soil from temperature changes.

Caring For Garlic

Garlic needs consistent moisture throughout the growing season, especially in the early stages of growth. Water the plants once or twice a week, and don’t let the soil dry out.

Fertilize the soil with a balanced fertilizer high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can sprinkle the fertilizer on top of the soil or mix it into the soil before planting.

Garlic also benefits from regular weeding. Remove any weeds that compete for nutrients, light, and space. Avoid using herbicides, as they can damage the garlic plants.

Harvesting Garlic In The Spring

After planting, garlic will start to grow roots and develop green leaves. By late spring, the leaves will start to die back, indicating the bulbs are ready to be harvested.

Note: Hardneck garlic will produce a flower stalk called a scape in early summer. It’s best to remove the scape to encourage the plant’s energy to focus on bulb growth. The scapes are edible and delicious, so don’t toss them in the compost.

  1. When the plant leaves start to die back, stop watering and let the soil dry out.

  2. Gently dig up the bulbs with a garden fork or spade. Be careful not to damage the bulbs with the tool.

  3. Brush off any dirt or soil, but don’t wash the bulbs with water. Let them dry in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area for a few weeks. This process, called curing, allows the skins to dry and harden, which improves the storage life.

  4. After curing, you can rub off the loose outer layers of skin, trim the roots, and cut off the leaves. Store the garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation and away from sunlight.

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Storing And Preserving Garlic From Fall Planting

Garlic bulbs can be stored for up to six months after harvesting. To extend the shelf life, store them in a cool, dark, dry place with good air circulation, such as a pantry, basement, or garage. Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature and humidity can cause moisture to build up, leading to mold and sprouting.

You can also preserve garlic by roasting, pickling, or freezing. Roasted garlic is a popular ingredient for spreads, dips, and sauces. Pickled garlic is a tasty addition to salads and meat dishes. Frozen garlic can be crushed or chopped for later use in soups, stews, and casseroles.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Fall-Planted Garlic

Garlic rust is a common fungal disease that appears as yellow, orange, or brown spots on the leaves. It weakens the plant and reduces the bulb size. To prevent garlic rust, plant disease-free cloves, avoid overcrowding, and provide good air circulation. If you notice signs of rust, remove and destroy the infected leaves and bulbs.

Nematodes are small worms that attack the garlic roots, causing the plant to wilt and die. To prevent nematode infestation, rotate garlic crops with crops from a different family, such as beans or peas. Planting cover crops and using organic soil amendments can also help reduce nematode populations.

Garlic bulbs that are small and immature may be caused by planting too late, planting in compacted soil, or not providing enough water or nutrients. To avoid small bulbs, plant garlic in loose, fertile soil, and water and fertilize regularly.

Recipes And Ideas For Using Freshly Harvested Garlic

Here are some tasty recipe ideas to make the most of your freshly harvested garlic:

  • Roasted Garlic and Herb Compound Butter – Mince roasted garlic and mix it with softened butter and chopped fresh herbs. Spread it on bread, steaks, or roasted vegetables.

  • Garlic Scape Pesto – Blend garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Use it as a dip for veggies, a spread for sandwiches, or a sauce for pasta.

  • Garlic Shrimp Pasta – Sauté shrimp and minced garlic in olive oil until cooked. Toss with cooked pasta, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and chopped parsley.

  • Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes – Toss halved baby potatoes with minced garlic, chopped herbs, and olive oil. Roast in the oven until crispy and golden brown.

  • Italian Garlic Bread – Sauté minced garlic and chopped herbs in butter until fragrant. Spread the mixture on sliced bread and broil until crispy and golden brown.


Planting garlic in the fall is a fun and easy way to grow your own flavorful ingredient. With a little preparation and care, you can harvest a bountiful crop of large, healthy bulbs and enjoy the taste of fresh garlic in every dish. Remember to choose the right garlic variety, prepare the soil, plant the cloves, and care for the plants throughout the growing season. Happy planting!


When Is The Best Time To Plant Garlic In The Fall?

The best time to plant garlic in the fall is 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes, which is typically in October or November, depending on your location.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Garlic In The Fall?

Garlic grows best in well-drained, loamy soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Avoid planting garlic in areas with heavy clay soil or soil that tends to hold water.

How Deep Should I Plant My Garlic Cloves In The Fall?

Plant your garlic cloves 2-3 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space your cloves 4-6 inches apart, and plant them in rows that are 12 inches apart.

How Much Water Does Garlic Need In The Fall?

Garlic needs regular watering during the fall to help it establish strong roots before winter. Water your garlic deeply once a week if there is no rain, and reduce watering as the weather cools down.

What Can I Do To Prepare My Soil For Planting Garlic In The Fall?

In the fall, prepare your soil by adding organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or bone meal. This will help improve soil structure and fertility, and it will also provide a slow release of nutrients for your garlic plants.