Updated at: 15-02-2023 - By: Sienna Lewis

Gardeners in Southern California may easily grow garlic. Is there one that’s a little less difficult? Even if you don’t use garlic in the cooking, growing it in your garden year-round is a no-brainer if you have the space.

During this Thanksgiving weekend, if you’d like, you can get started planting some garlic.

Sowing/Planting garlic

Garlic is never grown from seeds; instead, cloves are always used. There’s a complete head of garlic, and then there are the individual cloves that reside therein. Simply stick one of those cloves in the ground with the sharp end down.

Before planting or immediately after planting, thoroughly saturate the soil in order to avoid the need to water again until the green shoots have sprung up and begun to grow.

It takes me less than an inch to cover the pointed top of each clove after I’ve planted it with a stick and a few inches of dirt in my garden bed to get it started. Each clove should be planted around 3-6 inches apart from each other.

Growing garlic in Southern California - Greg Alder's Yard Posts: Southern California food gardening

Cloves have been laid out and are ready to sow.

As you’ll note, there are no strict planting parameters for garlic, which makes it ideal for haphazard gardeners, busy gardeners, or gardeners with children. Which people am I overlooking?

Even mulch can’t stand in the way of garlic. These ones, planted under a nectaplum tree, are very beautiful.

Because larger cloves are supposedly responsible for producing larger heads of garlic, growers are advised to only plant the largest cloves from each head. If it sounds reasonable, and I’ve always heeded its recommendations, I’ll go ahead and test it out.

When to plant garlic

Garlic should be planted in the autumn. I’ve had successful garlic crops in gardens along the ocean and inland as early as October 2 and as late as December, according to notes from previous years.

Planting too early or too late could have different outcomes. In the past, I’ve mistakenly left garlic cloves planted in the ground through the summer, which has led me to believe that garlic sowed too early will just wait for fall conditions before sprouting, which is what I’ve witnessed. Here’s an illustration:

On November 19, I found this volunteer, and I estimate that it has been growing for about a month or so.

Garlic “seed” and varieties

It’s so simple to grow garlic that you don’t even need to purchase special planting garlic cloves. Over the years, I’ve grown the majority of my garlic from heads purchased at a supermarket. You may read more about it in my article titled “Gardening at the Grocery Store.”

When I go to the supermarket to buy garlic for planting, I look for California-grown garlic because I believe the variety is more likely to be suited. Garlic is a major import to the United States from China.

In addition, I try to buy organic garlic whenever feasible, as I believe that organic crops are more protected from pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. Non-organic garlic has also thrived in my garden.

At nurseries and seed companies, you may also buy garlic that is specifically for planting. The cost of these sources is three times higher, but they provide significantly more options. For instance, Peaceful Valley has a huge selection, and I’ve had positive experiences with them in the past. Allium sativum (also known as Allium sativum) is a type of garlic that has a mild or strong flavor, depending on the cultivar.

How garlic grows

Cloves begin to sprout shortly after they are planted in the fall. They’re tall, thin, and slender. In the winter, they’re still green and can be used as a garnish for dishes that need a little garlic taste. Adding garlic greens to a stir-fry is really tasty. When we don’t have garlic cloves, this is what we do.

During the winter months, I’ve found that garlic can grow well with as much water as we get in the form of rainfall, between 12 and 18 inches, which means you may not need to water the plants at all. Growing garlic has one of my favorite qualities. Few vegetables are as well-suited to our environment as radishes.

In any given year, winter rains can be expected to fall. I had to water my garlic last winter (2017-2018) because the rains were so scarce, but I didn’t have to the winter before that.

During the spring, the garlic plants mature and their leaves begin to turn yellow. You can stop watering them at this point, which is normally towards the end of April or the beginning of May. Before harvesting, the soil should be dry enough to allow the heads to fully form, and this will also make it easier to clean and cure the heads, as well as less probable that they will mildew.

Garlic and onion plants can be seen in the foreground and the bed slightly uphill in spring. Both are nearing the end of their watering schedules.

Harvesting garlic

As expected, it’s June and the leaves are mostly yellow, with a few brown splotches at the bottom. Don’t pull the stalk by the ends! Using a garden fork, trowel, shovel, or even a stick, gently take the garlic heads out of the soil, being careful not to tear the stem off the head as you do so.

The fresh harvest can be eaten right away or prepared for storage if there are a lot of heads to harvest.

Storing and replanting garlic

Place each garlic head in a cool, dry place like a garage or under a porch to further dry it. You want a climate that is both warm and dry. The outer skin of the garlic heads is completely dry and papery, and the garlic can be deemed “cured,” which means it can be stored for a long time.

Because braiding the stalks and hanging them, which looks so cool, requires that the stalks be completely dry before you do so, the heads will come off if you wait too long. Heads that are completely dry can be stored in a mesh bag (so that they can breathe) with their stalks cut off at the neck. Garlic heads can be stored in either of these methods and should last through the summer and fall.

In order to extend the shelf life of a product, researchers recommend that it be kept as cool and dry as possible. Near-freezing temperatures and humidity levels of 60% to 70% are ideal.

My saved garlic begins to sprout in the fall. It’s still good to eat, but now that it’s spring, I’m going to start planting some garlic. Garlic can be used as “seed” and no additional garlic is needed for planting.

How To Plant Garlic From A Clove

Growing garlic is so easy

Garlic “seed” is commonly available and inexpensive. Watering is not necessary because it continues to grow throughout the winter. It is possible to keep your produce for months, and the harvest can be utilized for sowing the next year. I’m not exaggerating how difficult it is, and I don’t mean to.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say anything about bugs or diseases in this article. No, I’ve never had any. My fellow gardeners around here don’t seem to have any.

Even though I have a swarm of gophers in my yard, they don’t seem to care about my garlic at all.. My bunnies have never exhibited an interest in my garlic. Insects? It appears that no one is really interested in the topic at hand. Yes, I know, it all seems too wonderful to be true. It’s up to you to see if it works for you.

Growing Garlic in the California Home Garden

As a result of its long growing season of around 5 to 8 months and its sensitivity to soil and environmental conditions, especially overwatering, garlic may be planted less frequently than many other vegetables in the California home garden. Gardening in California’s hot and humid summer months, new or unfertilized soils, the improper garlic subspecies (see below), and overwatering all have a negative impact on garlic productivity.

Some gardeners may be put off by the moderate difficulties of growing garlic, but when the right conditions are met, it can be one of the most rewarding garden vegetables, providing spiciness and flavor that is absent from many other vegetables, a long-lasting yield from small spaces, storage for long periods to be enjoyed for many months (up to 10 months or longer with ideal storage) and a long-lasting yield from small spaces (up to a year or more with ideal storage).

Garlic plants may grow slowly or become stunted, bulb poorly, or become susceptible to pests and illnesses in harsh conditions or when their demands are not satisfied. When it comes to producing garlic in warm-summer and warm-winter California regions with mild frosts or no frosts, GardenZeus specialist Darren Butler has some advice:

Cultural needs and environmental conditions

When the temperature is cool to warm, garlic prefers full sun. It thrives in conditions of 50° to 75°F daylight temperatures. Once established, it can handle temperatures up to 85°F or greater for brief periods of time, although it prefers temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

Garlic prefers soils with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8 that are loose, well-drained, and abundant in organic matter. Compacted, uncultivated, or infertile soils are the worst for it. Planting it alongside other plants is not a good idea because it doesn’t compete well for nutrients in the soil. Keep away from planting garlic in the same soil, in soil where other alliums have been planted in the past two growing seasons, or in soils that have been drained by heavy feeders. See GardenZeus Alert: Beware of Heavy Feeders and Soil and Microclimate Tips for Softneck Garden Garlic.

Planning and preparation

Keep in mind that garlic flavor is distinct from heat or spiciness when making your selection of garlic varietals. You may prefer garlic that has a little spiciness, or garlic that has a powerful flavor and a mild spiciness.

There are two types of garden garlic: 1) Artichoke, silverskin, and creole varieties of softneck garlic (var. sativum). Bulb yields are higher, the bulbs keep better, and they can be braided for hanging if desired. rocambole, porcelain, purple-stripe, and asiatic/turban varieties of hardneck garlic (var. ophioscorodon). “Scapes,” which are edible flower stalks, have a shorter storage life for bulbs, and are referred to as “scapes.”

Only warm-summer and warm-winter California locations with light frosts or no frosts can grow softneck garlic. Due to the need for vernalization (cold weather) and a long day length with cool temperatures for bulbing, hardneck garlic is rarely produced in warm winter climates.

In most of California, the optimum time to produce garlic is from fall through spring because it is sensitive to heat. As the days get shorter and the sun goes down, the growing season begins in the winter. Plant softneck garlic where it will receive plenty of sunlight all winter long.

Between September and November, there is a brief window of opportunity for purchasing seed garlic (cloves and bulbs) and it may be difficult to find the remainder of the year. For the finest options, preorder in July or August. You should avoid planting garlic that has been sold at a market or as food because of the risk of disease and probable treatment to prevent sprouting. If you live in a place with mild winters and mild summers, you can produce garlic all year round or virtually year-round. Plant huge cloves of garlic from farmers market bulbs when seed garlic isn’t available. Any garlic you buy at the grocery store needs to be sanitized before planting (see below).


Drip irrigation, especially in thick soils, is the greatest method for watering garlic since it allows water to slowly infiltrate the soil over time. Preparation is key when it comes to establishing drip irrigation, which can save time and money in the long run. See Softneck Garden Garlic Watering Tips for more information on watering.

Most of California experiences its heaviest rainfall during the winter growing season. Overwatering or planting garlic in thick clay soil or any other soil with poor drainage increases the risk of illness. Poor drainage can be an issue even when the soil top is dry because water might collect below the soil surface or in compacted regions underneath. Garlic does not flourish in heavy or infertile soils for a variety of reasons. Most uncultivated soils and many gardeners agree that the ideal approach is to plant garlic in raised beds that are at least 8-12 inches deep and packed with loose, fertile soil rich in organic matter and able to retain moisture while draining efficiently during winter rains.

Germination and planting

Despite the term “seed garlic,” which refers to smaller tubular, pointed sections of the bulb, garlic is actually grown from cloves. It is best to keep seed garlic (both cloves and bulbs) in braids or mesh bags with air circulation until planting time without breaking up the bulbs (not below freezing temperatures and not in a refrigerator). Individual cloves decay and spoil quickly when bulbs are cracked or broken.

Plant cloves in the fall when the temperature is cooler. Any cloves that are withered, damaged, or moldy should be avoided while planting. Despite the fact that cloves sprout rather than germinate, gardeners and gardening guides sometimes use the terms interchangeably when referring to garlic.

In order to prevent or eradicate diseases and pests such as fungi, bacteria, mites, nematode eggs, and more, GardenZeus recommends soaking garlic cloves in water for at least two hours before planting. The first step is to soak the cloves in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda per quart of water for at least 2 hours or overnight (up to 12 hours). While it isn’t required, adding a teaspoon of liquid seaweed extract to a quart of water might hasten the initial growing process. Cloves can be soaked for many minutes in 70% isopropyl or rubbing alcohol after the initial immersion. When using isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of 90% or more, dilute it with 20% extra water. After soaking in rubbing alcohol, cloves are ready to be planted.

Incorporate large amounts of composted manure and high-quality compost into soils. Before planting garlic, dig the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches, remove any stones or impediments, and then add compost and manure.

Soil must be loosened several inches or more below the level where cloves are planted in clay and thick soils. In order to avoid creating an area where water tends to pool and cause disease, just loosen or dig up the soil to the depth of planting. Poor bulbing and failure of garlic crops in California may be caused most commonly by wet soils and overwatering, or water accumulating beneath soil surface.

Plant garlic cloves in raised beds that are at least 8-12 inches deep and lined with half-inch hardware cloth to keep out gophers in gardens with young, uncultivated, infertile, or compacted soils. Composted manure and nutrient-rich compost can be mixed with washed sand in the beds.

Garlic cloves should be planted at least 1.5 inches deep in the ground. Planting huge cloves under 2 inches of soil may result in larger bulbs. In order to encourage root growth, the rounded or widest end of each clove should be planted in the ground, while the pointed or narrowst end should be placed on top. If you’re unsure which end of the garlic clove is facing upwards, plant it sideways to avoid this problem. Softneck Garden Garlic Planting and Harvesting Schedules

Keep an eye out for rot in cool soils by not overwatering the garlic when the cloves are sprouting, since this might foster the growth of mold. A half-inch-to-an-inch of dry soil and/or sprouted cloves are generally all that’s needed for watering garlic cloves if they’re planted in a damp soil. If you move the earth from above a few cloves or probe lightly through loose soil to feel for stems, you can often tell if the seeds are sprouting.

Knowing How To Plant And Grow The Two Main Types Of Garlic

The softneck garlic, also known as artichoke garlic, and the hardneck garlic, also known as top-setting garlic, are the two most common varieties of garlic. Garlic varieties that grow well in the southern half of California must be identified, as must types that suit the cooking needs and palates of individual cooks and home cooks. For each garlic type, the process of growing it is different.

Softneck garlic

Despite the lack of a flower scape, softneck cultivars grow faster and produce more cloves than hardneck kinds. As a result, they thrive in locations where the winters are moderate and the summers are hot.

It’s better to plant softneck varieties like Silver Rose and Siciliano if you want to braid garlic heads that will keep for a long time. When you’re planting bulbs for spring, you’ll know it’s time to sow softneck garlic.

If you plant garlic in the fall, you can receive a harvest in the spring, summer, or early fall. The pointed ends of the cloves should face upward when they are planted. Make a point of spacing them at least 6 inches apart and 4 inches deep when you’re doing this.

Hardneck garlic

Hardneck garlic cultivars are well-known for their tenacity. You can count on them to produce a plentiful yield regardless of whether you plant them in a hot or cold location. However, when grown in warmer climates, they tend to yield smaller heads than hardneck garlic that is grown in colder regions.

Make sure to cut off the flower scapes as soon as you observe them curling around on themselves to increase the yield. Remove the flower scapes, and the plant will focus all of its energy on producing garlic cloves.

How to Grow Garlic ~ A Guide to Planting, Harvesting, Curing, & Storage ~ Freckled Californian ~ A California Gardening & Seasonal Living Blog

When Is The Best Time To Plant Garlic In California?

Garlic planting in Southern California is best done in the fall, as previously noted. Although some garlic cloves were mistakenly left in the ground during summer, these will not begin to show symptoms of development until the autumn. There’s no guarantee that your summer-planted garlic will germinate as soon as the weather cools down in the fall.

It’s important to plant your garlic cloves in a location that gets a lot of sunlight. Planting them in well-drained soil enhances their growth potential as well.

Where Does Garlic Grow In California?

California is home to two of the country’s largest garlic producers: Christopher Ranch in Gilroy and the San Joaquin Valley Garlic Company. In fact, more than 90% of the commercial garlic produced in the United States is cultivated in the state of California.

As a result, Christopher Ranch produces more than half of all garlic planted in the United States. As a result, the Garlic Company is situated in a location that is perfect for the cultivation of these commodities.

How Long Does It Take To Grow Garlic?

It usually takes about nine months for garlic plants to mature if they’re grown under ideal conditions.

Does Garlic Multiply?

It usually takes about nine months for garlic plants to mature if they’re grown under ideal conditions.

It normally takes about nine months for garlic plants to mature if they’re grown under perfect conditions.

When Is Garlic Ready For Harvest?

Garlic plants mature in around nine months if they are produced in the optimal conditions.

Top Reasons Why Growing Garlic In Southern California Greenhouses Is The Right Choice

A greenhouse is a great tool for growing garlic in Southern California because it’s specifically intended for that purpose. Take a look at the most compelling arguments in favor of making this a viable option for you.

You can control your plant’s growth environment

In the greenhouse, you have more control over the conditions in which your plants thrive. When the sun’s rays are directed in a certain way, for example, the heat, light, and humidity will be uniformly distributed.

You can extend the growing season

Having your own greenhouse means that you can plant garlic at any time of the year because you can regulate the conditions in which your plants grow.

You can keep the pests and predators out

A greenhouse can protect your plants against pests and predators that are hard to get rid of in the natural world. Insects and predators could be anything from a mole to an opossum to a deer or raccoon.


Greenhouse gardening is the only way to successfully cultivate garlic in Southern California. If you’re searching for a long-lasting greenhouse, go no further than Krostrade’s line of products.