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Garlic is a staple in so many savory dishes, but if you've only ever cooked with the sad grocery store bulbs, it's time to see garlic's true potential by growing your own. The depth of flavor and variety that homegrown garlic offers blows store-bought out of the water. Lucky for us, plant friends, growing our own garlic at home is so easy! In this episode, homesteader extraordinaire Jill Winger walks us through how to grow garlic step-by-step, select varieties, grow, harvest, and store your own garlic for a steady supply of flavorful garlic all year long.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [03:09] Garden Society shoutout
  • [05:17] What led Jill to embrace homesteading?
  • [07:01] Check out Jill’s blog and podcast!
  • [09:29] How Jill's garden has evolved over the years
  • [11:23] Jill’s early years of homesteading and its long-term evolution
  • [13:18] Why homesteading involves continuous trial and error
  • [13:54] How long has Jill been growing garlic?
  • [14:59] Homegrown vs. store-bought garlic
  • [15:57] How to select the right garlic to grow
  • [16:08] Choosing a reputable garlic seed source
  • [17:24] Softneck vs. hardneck garlic
  • [19:19] Where to find a wide variety of hardneck and softneck garlic for pre-order?
  • [21:07] Where to get quality potting mix and soil for garlic growth over the winter? 
  • [24:05] What else is needed to grow garlic besides cloves?
  • [25:37] When is the best time to plant garlic?
  • [26:41] Why garlic is low maintenance
  • [27:28] What steps should be taken to prepare garlic for planting?
  • [28:32] How deep should you plant the clove under the soil?
  • [29:21] Why garlic doesn't rot or freeze despite delayed stalk growth in winter
  • [30:32] What’s the next step after planting garlic?
  • [32:39] How does the harvest timing affect the taste and texture of garlic scapes and bulbs?
  • [33:52] How do you know the garlic is ready to harvest?
  • [35:03] How do you “cure” fresh garlic?
  • [37:01] Tips for storing garlic for a long time
  • [38:35] Common garlic growing issues and how to address them
  • [39:36] Jill’s favorite garlic recipes
  • [41:35] How did Jill’s homestead slowly evolve?
  • [43:48] How reconnecting with nature and sustainable living creates a natural ecosystem


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Selecting Garlic Varieties

The first step in growing garlic is selecting which variety or varieties you want to grow. There are two main types of garlic:

Softneck garlic: This variety has flexible stalks that can be braided for storage, their bulbs contain many smaller cloves packed tightly together, and usually do well in warmer climates.

Hardneck garlic: Contrary to softneck garlic, this variety has a stiff, woody central stalk and larger individual cloves, is extremely hardy through cold winters, and also produces curly scapes in early summer that are edible.

For the best comparison, choose at least one softneck and one hardneck variety to grow. This will allow you to see which you prefer in terms of flavor, storage, and ease of use.

When selecting bulbs, make sure to buy garlic specifically sold for planting purposes from a reputable source. Don't use grocery store garlic sold for consumption.


When to Plant Garlic

Unlike most vegetables, garlic is usually planted in the fall rather than spring. Simply time your planting 4 to 6 weeks before your winter cold season starts.

  • For northern climates: plant in late September or October
  • For southern climates: plant in November or December

The cooling weather triggers the garlic to go dormant and stimulate growth. Don't worry about planting too late in the fall—garlic can handle light frosts.


Preparing Garlic for Planting

It’s best to order garlic for planting from a reputable online supplier. Territorial Seed Company has a great selection of both softneck and hardneck garlic varieties.

When your garlic arrives, break the bulbs into individual cloves. Leave the papery covering on each clove intact—don’t peel it off. If you won’t be planting right away, store the separated cloves in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight with good airflow. A mesh bag or open basket works well. This prevents moisture from accumulating and causing the cloves to mold or rot.


How to Plant Garlic

Garlic grows well in loose, well-draining soil free of debris. It does not need rich, amended soil. Loosen the top 6 inches where you will plant and clear 4-6 inch circles for each clove. Plant the cloves root-side down, pointed end up, 4-6 inches deep, 6 inches apart. In cold climates, plant deeper, closer to 6 inches.. After planting, mulch over the bed to insulate the soil and prevent erosion.


Growing and Harvesting Garlic

One of the best parts of growing garlic is that you don’t have to do much between fall planting and summer harvest! After planting:

  • The plant will go dormant through winter, you’ll see no visible growth until spring
  • Shoots and leaves will begin to emerge in early spring
  • Be sure to let your garlic grow through spring and early summer
  • Water occasionally when top few inches of soil are dry

As plants mature, watch for the bottom 2-3 leaves to yellow and wither. This happens in mid-late summer, around June-July. About 1 week before your harvest date, stop watering to help dry plants.

When harvest time comes, gently dig down and lift each garlic bulb from the soil by hand. Take care not to break off the stalks from the bulbs. Lay the harvested plants on screens or mesh for a few days to cure. Proper curing helps bulbs stay fresh longer in storage!


Storing and Using Garlic

For softneck varieties, you can braid the dried stalks together for hanging. For hardneck, simply trim the stalks down to an inch or two above the bulb.

Store cured heads in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. A basement or any place with similar conditions will work well. Properly cured and stored, garlic will last for several months.

The true test of homegrown garlic is tasting it fresh! After harvest, try using raw cloves right away while their flavor is at its peak. Jill loves to roast her fresh garlic!

Garlic can also be used in endless recipes like pesto, hummus, sauces, soups, stews, and more.


Fresh Garlic Flavor All Year from Your Garden

You’ll never view garlic the same after tasting it right from the garden! Consider planting garlic this September or October, and you’ll reap the benefits all through next year. With the right curing and storage, your garlic harvest will provide months of flavorful cooking!



Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Territorial Seed Company

Growing garlic for the first time does not have to be a struggle! Skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy plants right to your door. They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone's garden. Whether you are looking for leafy veggies, flowers or edible plants in either seed or seedling form, Territorial Seed Company has your back.

Get 10% off by visiting – discount applied at checkout.

Espoma Organic

Ensure a thriving garden with the right products! Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly. To top it all off, they have a huge sustainability commitment with a 100% solar powered plant, zero waste manufacturing and eco-friendly packaging.

Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.


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