Starting Garlic From Cloves

Garlic BulbYou can start garlic from the bulbs you buy at your local grocery store. This is true of regular and elephant garlic. Here's how.

Starting Garlic from Cloves

Separate the cloves and let them dry on your counter for a few days, but don't peel the paper off. Prepare potting soil to which you have added sand or another loosening agent. If you are planting garlic directly into the garden and have heavy clay, liberally amend your soil to loosen it. The best time to plant is mid-spring, but in more temperate climates (no heavy freezes), you can start garlic in spring or fall.

Plant cloves, pointed side up, in loose soil about three inches deep and three inched apart. Pick a sunny spot with good drainage.

The good news is that your garlic doesn't require any special handling. The bad news is that the bulbs won't be ready to harvest until the end of NEXT summer. You'll know because the foliage will turn yellow and start to droop. When the tops have turned brown (you can help them along by breaking the stems once they've started to turn yellow, just be sure to leave them attached to the plant), remove the bulbs from the soil and allow them dry for a week. Braid the tops into a chain and store your garlic chain in a dark place. Be sure to keep enough stock to plant out next spring.

Special Notes on Growing Garlic

The young tops of garlic are edible, but test them first because they can be bitter. Grow garlic with rue to keep away Japanese beetles. The three things you need for a healthy garlic crop are a good sunny location, loose soil, and good drainage. In cool, damp climates garlic can contract fungus often referred to as white or pink rot. If your crop is affected, try planting in another location next year. Rot spores can live in the soil for years. Need to use that spot again next season? Check out this cheap and effective way to sterilize garden soil: The Green Way to Sterilize Garden Soil.

You can also grow garlic from seed, leafless flower stalks called scapes and  the round or uneven shaped bulbils growing from the plant's leaf axils.  It's all good, but takes about two years to reach juicy, chubby maturity.

Grocery Store Herbs and Vegetables Can be Grown in Your Garden

It's amazing how useful your grocery store can be as a source of herbs and vegetables for the garden. The seeds from many of your vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and bell peppers can be dried and planted out in spring.

Roots like ginger can be planted directly into the soil (if they haven't been treated to retard sprouting). Fruits like cantaloupe often have viable seeds, as do other melons. Even scallions can be planted out if they have enough undamaged root left at the tip.


  1. If you are going to save & plant seeds from herbs/fruits/vegetables from your local grocery store, check to see if the name is listed then check to see if is an HEIRLOOM variety. A good example would be the Black Beauty Eggplant, it is heirloom and can be used. However, many varieties of other foods are hybrids, the seeds from these may grow plants but not produce fruits/veggies, and some will grow plants with veggies not true to form, type or taste (even hybrid herbs can have off or bad taste). Many tomatoes sold in stores are actually hybrids, and the seeds saved from them tend to revert back to the cherry tomatoes that are used in hybridization for creating extra sweetness & thin skins. Check the names, ask the person who does the ordering to check the order sheets to see if it specifies heirloom or not...or go to your local farmers market and ask before purchasing. Also, learn the methods needed for saving seeds, it is different for tomatoes than for squash, beans, etc. You don't want to improperly save them only to find out next year you did it wrong and they are dead/will not grow. Sorry...just thought you might want to know. Hope I didn't overstep.

    By the way....LOVE this site!! Tons of excellent information!

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Dink.


  3. Anonymous8:53:00 PM

    Are there any special climactic needs for garlic, such as cold winters? And how does garlic do as a potted plant indoors on a window sill?

  4. Hi,

    Garlic doesn't need a cold winter climate, and it will grow if planted on a window sill. I actually have one started as I write this. To attain full growth, though, put immature plants outdoors in spring. Their bulbs will be ready to harvest next spring.

  5. Hi All
    I have been hooked and gardening since my grampa showed me how it was done when I was 5 I am now 56 But I have broadened my horizen and am an even bigger fanatic now I have learned so much from this site and now that I am getting into herbal remadies I have been reading everything I can get my hands on and have learned alot threw here Please keep up the good work I really want to thank you for this site it's been great

    1. Kathy,

      I like to share, and herbs are really so much fun to grow and use. Comments like yours are what really keeps this blog alive.

      Thanks a million.



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