Basics On Planting Garlic

Garlic isn’t hard to grow. It has a few important requirements that you can easily meet. These include decent soil, adequate moisture, and, of course, planting and harvesting at the right time. Here are a few basics that will guide you:

Choosing your garlic

There are three types of garlic: Stiffneck, Softneck and Great-headed (Elephant). These three have several different varieties. Most types take about 90 days for you to harvest while others can take up to nine months.

Softneck varieties, like their name suggests, have necks that stay soft after harvest, and therefore are the types that you see braided. These are highly recommended for Zambian weather. They are strong intense flavor.

Stiffneck varieties grow one ring of cloves around a stem. Also, they don’t have layer of cloves as there are in softneck varieties. They are also very cold hardy, but do not store as long as the other varieties. They have a milder than softnecks.

Great-headed varieties are not recommended. They are not hard and are closely related to leeks than other varieties. Their flavor is more like onion than traditional garlic. They have large bulbs and cloves with about 4 cloves to a bulb.

Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. This is because most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow.

grow garlic

Soil Preparation

Garlic grows under a wide variety of soil conditions. However, it grows better in free draining loam with lots of organic matter. Build up your soil with green manure. Also, it s good practice to cover crops as part of your normal crop rotation. The best choices before planting are Compost and composted manure.

Planting Garlic

You can plant garlic in single rows or double rows. They have to be in wide beds of four to six plants across with four to eight inches between plants. Also, try to use tighter spacing in the beds as this will produce a greater number of smaller bulbs for a higher total yield in terms of kgs of garlic per square foot of garden.

It is important to plant hard neck garlic with the top (pointed end) of the clove up, at least two inches below the surface. When you have planted the garlic, cover it with a layer of mulch (Chopped leaves, swamp grass, reeds).Grass hay is fine if you don’t mind lots of grass seed in your soil. Mulching conserves moisture, moderates soil temperatures and inhibits weeds. Garlic doesn’t like extreme heat and mulch will moderate the daily fluctuations in summer soil temperatures.

grow garlic

Watering Garlic

Watering garlic is an art. Garlic requires fairly even soil moisture during the growing season with no additional moisture during the last few weeks. When there isn’t enough moisture, the garlic doesn’t develop a full sized bulb. Also, over watering results in garlic with poor keeping qualities – poor wrappers,mold and burst skins. Furthermore, it’s harder to cure garlic that has been over watered.

105 thoughts on “Basics On Planting Garlic

          1. Useful information, I want to grow garlic. Where can I buy seed and what is the cost of seed for a 0. 5 ha

    1. I planted on 1st march 2021 and the bulbs seem impressive,can I start harvesting?Most of the bulbs are red in colour like onion,what is the name of this type because it is my first time to grow.

          1. Hello thanks alot this is an informative write up on growing garlic? Where can I buy seedlings to plant and in which month should I plant?

  1. Thank you for the information on garlic growing..
    It is very helpful to me as I plan to go into farming. Please share with me more on garlic and onion growing..
    Thank you once more..

    1. Thank you Mazoni. We’ll surely let you know once we’ve posted more about garlic. You ca also sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss out.

      1. I intend on growing garlic and would like to find out where I can purchase the seed, where I can get trained in garlic farming. Kindly available this information.

      2. The article highlights the need for not planting Garlic bulbs from the Groceries but has skipped giving information on where to get the right bulbs to plant

      1. I planted my test garlic bed in June but up to now my garlic is still green and shows no signs of maturity. The stems do not fall but still strong. I havent dug yet to see if bulbs have developed. What could be the problem as to why it has taken long to mature?

        1. When grown under the right conditions, garlic typically takes eight to nine months to mature. But, you must check to see if it’s forming bulbs.

  2. I am happy to learn more about garlic, you are doing great. Big up to the administrators of this forum. I will consistently follow this link. Post also on ginger.

  3. Very educational indeed. I will use this information to plant a small test garden in the backyard just to gain more experience.

    Are there any diseases I need to look out for? I am in Solwezi.

    Thank you

  4. Insightful info about garlic growing. I want to start growing garlic where can I get seed? who buys garlic in bulk in Zambia? I want to sign an agreement with the buying company before I grow big. What are the minimum standards? Food safety issues and accreditation if I am to export.

    Retired civil servant

    1. Hi Charles, These are good questions every farmer should ask before going at it on a large scale. Unfortunately, this is market research we currently don’t have resources to do for you. We can recommend business consultants who can help you with your questions at a cost. You can check any seed supplier for garlic.

    2. As I love gardening (hobby) I have been growing different vegetables including garlic. I planted my first experimental garlic in May/June this year – fair yield because the watering was erratic.

      My guess is that you may be able to sell to the supermarkets: Food Lovers, P&P etc, and boutique shops. Also, it may be possible to export to Europe.

      I am sure the seeds/cloves are available. I bought my seeds from a local market in Kigali/Goma. Happy garlic growing.

      By the way the beautiful thing about garlic is it is one of the more profitable vegetables, but not so difficult to farm

    1. Hi Abel, 5 years is enough time to have a consistent client base. So, this is not an easy question to answer because you could find yourself growing lots of garlic and not having anyone to buy it. The best thing you can do is try it out on a smaller scale and compare it to your onion sales and make a decision from there.

  5. This is a wonderful article. It’s very helpful to someone like me who is about to enter a world of garlic farming.

    1. Hi Chilomba, You’ll have to check with your local seed supplier. If they don’t have, they’ll surely refer you.

    1. Hi Emmanuel, It’s great that you’re planning on diversifying. Unfortunately, we don’t have a club. We’re just trying to help small scale farmers with as much information as we can give.

  6. 1.Which month of the year is recommended for planting softneck garlic? 2. Does one need to peel off the whole wrap to plant the clove ? 3. What soil ph is recommended for garlic?

  7. This is a good fora bcoz it is very encouraging to me who wants to start growing garlic and ginger.Ileave in kabwe.

  8. Just on point,I bought garlic for a garden bt I didn’t know when to plant and How to manage it,but from what I have read I have learnt. Thank you.I wish you had clubs for people to learn more in practical .

  9. JUST planted a portion of garlic. 20msq to be specific. Looking forward to farming poverty away through garlic.

    1. I find this platform so interesting. Want to go into farming. Just stopped work so i can prepare for my future through farming. Am i not late at 42? Growing garlic has been my dream.

      1. Hi Mary, It’s never too late to pursue your dream. AT 42, you can go and start studying for a new degree and launch your career. All is need is passion and determination. All the best! And do remember to come back and share your experience.

  10. Hmm this is great info. I have a plot of land in 12 miles great north road and l am planning on diversifying from maize to garlic and ginger production.

  11. Perfect information indeed. I want to grow garlic. But do l have to peel off the papery layer before planting?

  12. Good information about garlic. I wish I can grow it any time of the year, this mrans I have to wait for February

  13. Thanks for the information am planing to start garlic farming but i did not have any information on how to go about it, i know now where to start from.

  14. Thanks for clear interested in growing garlic,however the challenge is where to find seed.any ideas where i can find the seed.

  15. I want to do Garlic farming. I am based in Chingola. Which variate is good and which month is best for planting? if i can not mange to irrigate the land.
    Also where can i get the seed and how much is it and where is it found?

  16. Locally Propagated Garlic Seed available October through March. (Grown Organically)

    Order or buy early to enjoy a rebated price
    KANZOTO GARLIC (Whatsapp: +260 963 955 838)

  17. I want to start growing Garlic in Lufwanyama Area but near a well water logged place with a nearby stream. Which variety can I go for and where to purchase the seed here in Copperbelt or Lusaka?
    Any assistance will go a long way.

  18. Thank you very much for the educative information as out garlic I have about 50 hecres land near mpongee turnoff I want to grow large scale garlic where can get the seeds or seedlings for the better yield?

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