Plant Garlic Now: 5 Tips for Bumper Crops

Garlic always gets a space in my tiny garden because I rarely cook without it (even my favorite ice cream recipe calls for it), and I like planting things in the fall. When I’ve lost much of my garden to the first frost, putting garlic cloves into the ground connects me to next summer.

For planting and growing anything, Mother Earth News editor Barbara Pleasant never steers me wrong. Using her chart, this year I’ll plant purple stripe hardneck, which is suited to my climate. I’ll simply follow her great advice in “Growing Garlic” for a bumper crop.

To get the biggest bulbs, Barbara recommends planting garlic just after the first frost–any day now in Colorado, where early frosts have caused me to eat far too many green tomatoes. Then I follow these super easy steps to get my garlic underground, where the cloves will divide and multiply while the snow flies. I’ll have fresh garlic come June.

  1. Wait until just before planting to break garlic bulbs into cloves.
  2. Plant in sunny, well-drained beds.
  3. Plant cloves at least 4 inches deep and about 6-8 inches apart.
  4. Plant cloves with their pointed ends up.
  5. Cover with 3-5 inches of shredded leaves (a nice use of this resource, abundant right now).

Illustrations by Keith Ward

Softneck garlics (left) grow best where winters are mild and are great for braiding.

Hardnecks (center) adapt to cold winter climates and produce delicious scapes in early summer.

Elephant garlic (right), hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch, produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves.

Mother’s chart of garlic types includes descriptions, growing tips and great varieties to try.

Garlic: A Gardener’s Best Friend
5 Plants to Plant & 5 Projects for the Fall Garden

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Kris Allen
Kris Allen3 years ago

Thanks for the tips on garlic!

ii q.
g d c.3 years ago


jayasri amma
jayasri amma3 years ago

thank you

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

Good to know. I tried to grow it once but planted at the wrong time of year. I'll try it again. I love garlic.

Deepti Patil
Deepti Patil4 years ago


heather g.
heather g.4 years ago

Thanks for that recommendation - I'll give it a try.

Darla G.
Darla G.4 years ago

thanks for the tips... I started garlic this year and got :-( NONE:-(
Next year should be better....

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago


Deborah L.
Deborah L.4 years ago

I LOVE Garlic!! I have to try growing my own. This is great info!