As the Worm Turns: Planting garlic

Filed under: Gardening |

by Leigh Mills

I love garlic!  I love eating it and I love its nutritional health benefits.  I’ve been growing garlic for a number of years and have been quite happy with a certain hard-neck type whose name I can’t remember.  It has light-pink stripes in the skin, is fairly easy to peel, and has a great taste.  I read about growing garlic in a couple of places, but the book I like the best is Growing Great Garlic, by Ron Engeland.  I started having good results growing and storing my garlic after gleaning information from it.

I harvest my garlic sometime in July and keep the bigger bulbs for planting in the fall.  I start thinking about where the new garlic will be planted and look around for a raised garden bed that’s big enough, easy to work, has adequate drainage and will be available by planting time.  Last year, I planted my garlic in a bed that grew bush beans.  I prepared the soil with compost a month earlier and watered the bed fairly well a couple of days before I planted the garlic, which was about mid-October.  Garlic is planted in the fall so it will have enough time in the ground to start germinating before the soil freezes.

Once the new bed was ready for the seed garlic, I marked the bed with holes by pushing my finger into the ground about an inch.  I space my garlic rather close together, but not crowded.  I alternate the rows, so that helps with the spacing, too.  They end up about 3-4 inches apart in the rows with about 5 inches between the rows.  Different garlic has different growing space needs.

I put all my planting garlic in a tray and break open the bulbs.  I am careful not to break off the root ends of the cloves.  Starting at one end of the garden bed, I place one clove in each little hole with the blunt root-end down and the pointy tip up. Once all the seed garlic has been planted, I cover up the holes and deeply water the bed.  Then I put a 4-6 inch layer of straw on top to protect and insulate the bed from the winter elements.

Growing Great Garlic, by Ron Engeland, is in the Saguache County Library and is recommended reading for growing and storing garlic.  Here are some web sources for information about growing garlic, its health benefits, and preserving in olive oil:

Filaree Garlic Farm –

15 Health Benefits of Garlic –

Preserving Fresh Garlic in Olive Oil –

Leigh Mills has lived, gardened, preserved food and saved seeds in the San Luis Valley for 11 years.  She’s written the “As the Worm Turns” column for three and a half years and has started a gardening and seed-saving blog called The Infinite Bee.  View color photos and read journal entries filled with tips about high-altitude gardening and seed saving, food preservation, yummy recipes, and off-the-grid, homestead living.  If you enjoy reading her monthly, visit her daily at

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