How to grow & harvest your own garlic

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How to grow & harvest your own garlic

Growing your own produce will make your Sunday roast perfect!

When it comes to doing your own veggie patch, the first ingredients that should spring to mind are foods that you can use in your every day cooking. And one particular plant that comes to mind is garlic, a pungent bulb that can be used in roasts or marinades. Fortunately, we've put together a guide on growing garlic in Australia, planting garlic and growing garlic from a clove. And when it's ready to be eaten, you'll know how and when to harvest. 

Ask your grower at your local markets where their garlic is from, when they planted and harvested it – that’s your key to local growing success. If you find they are grown locally, buy a bulb from them, split it up into the cloves and plant those.

Where to plant

Approaching winter, full sun is ideal for most edibles and this includes garlic. Pots or raised beds are best for planting your cloves as they generally offer better drainage – garlic bulbs don’t like to be waterlogged.

Move your pots into sunnier positions where possible, too. Mounded garden beds with a good soil structure will also provide adequate drainage.

Plant your garlic at the back of the garden bed as it’ll be in there for about eight months so you won’t need regular access to it unlike your herbs and leafy greens.

How to plant

  1. Separate the cloves and plant the largest ones into moist soil, 15 cm apart. Push them in, pointy end up, until they sit just below ground level. 
  2. Apply a slow-release fertiliser at planting and again three months later. In spring, apply a nitrogen-based fertiliser to fatten out the bulbs.
  3. Don’t water the soil until the cloves have germinated, which should be about two weeks after planting. Water often enough from then on to keep the soil moist but not cold and sodden.
  4. Mulching helps keep weeds away and the soil moist. Use straw to about 3cm deep, which will fall to about 2cm over winter.


Garlic takes up to eight months until harvest. The bulb develops as the day length increases in spring.

With hardneck varieties, you can cut off the curly flower stalk that develops (called the garlic “scape”), which will encourage larger bulb growth. The scape can also be cooked with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and you can’t go wrong.

You can scrape back the soil and check to see if the bulb has developed with the cloves segments visible. Half a dozen green leaves remaining will also indicate it’s harvest time.


When your garlic leaves start to brown off, the bulb is finished growing and is ready to be plucked from the soil and hung or placed on drying racks in a shady garden shed. Good airflow will reduce fungal problems while you leave them to dry for around four weeks.

Care Instructions 

It's important that during the growing process, your home-grown garlic is well cared for. Choose a high-nitrogen fertiliser to help feed the plants. As the weather warms up after winter, garlic can form flower stalks. Ensure that you remove the stalks to maximise growth of the actual garlic bulb. 

SOURCE: (Byron Smith | 9 June 2020); and Better Homes & Gardens (Alex Periotti | 9 October 2018).


by Celine Battendier

How to grow & harvest your own garlic June 2020
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