Healthy Kids

How to grow garlic

It's so easy to grow your very own at home.

Written by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

With the cooler months here, it's time to plant bulbs in the garden and garlic is at the top of the list! Garlic is a perennial that can be grown as an annual. It's easy to grow and will always be useful in the kitchen. Here's everything you need to know to yield your garlic crop.

Soil type

Moist, well-drained soil, enriched with organic matter. Do not plant in freshly manured soil.

Soil preparation

Dig in organic compost or well-rotted manure a few months prior to planting. Our no-dig garden bed is the perfect soil preparation for your garlic prop.


Suitable for all climates.


Prefers full sun or partial shade.


Use organic Australian garlic if you can.

When to sow cloves

  • Hot climate from June–July.
  • Temperate climate from April–July.
  • Cooler climate from March–June.

Water requirements

Keep soil moist, but do not over-water. Be sparing with water as the bulb matures.


Sow garlic cloves directly into the ground, pointy end up, 3 cm deep. Plant 15 cm apart in rows 30 cm apart or in a 2 m2 block. Also plant around the base of fruit trees, and inter-plant the blocks with beneficial flowering plants like nasturtium, pyrethrum and lavender.

When to fertilise

Use a compost tea, worm tea or liquid seaweed once a month.

Special needs

Frost-tolerant; once established, garlic needs little attention.

Harvest period

Six to eight months after planting. Harvest the garlic when the lower leaves have all died down and only the top six leaves are still green. Once the garlic starts to lose its leaves, discontinue watering and let the soil begin to dry out to make harvesting easier – it's easier to pull garlic out of loose soil than mud. Every few days you can dig down around a few plants to inspect the size and shape of the bulbs, being careful not to disturb the roots, until you are satisfied they are ready. If they're not ready yet, carefully replace the soil and let them go a few days more then inspect again. Leave the harvest in a sheltered spot for a day or so to allow the outer skin to dry, then brush off any dry soil and store.

Pests and organic control

Garlic has no problems.

Companion planting

Good for tomatoes, roses and fruit. Do not plant with peas and beans. The secretions of sulphur from garlic is said to improve the scent of roses. Garlic repels aphids and borer.


If you are mad keen to produce ‘super’ garlic, why not try the following on half your crop and compare the difference at harvesting time. Soak cloves in water containing one heaped tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and liquid seaweed to protect them from fungus – this will also give them an energy boost. Leave the cloves in the soda water overnight or long enough for the clove covers to loosen so the liquid comes into contact with the surfaces of the cloves. The baking soda helps neutralise the fungi. You can also incorporate your garlic into solstice activities: plant at winter solstice and harvest at summer solstice.

Written by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is a not-for-profit charity whose vision is to see children form positive food habits for life. The Foundation provides the inspiration, information, professional development and support for educational institutions to deliver pleasurable food education, in conjunction with educators, partners and the wider community.

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