How to grow garlic from old cloves

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Garlic at a glance

Growing difficulty – Beginner

  • It is part of the allium family along with onions & leeks
  • It is easy to grow and harvest
  • Majority of types will be ready after 90 days
  • Best grown in well drained, PH neural soil
  • Garlic is a natural pest repellent making it a perfect companion plant

Step by step guide on how to grow Garlic from a clove

Garlic is a very useful and tasty ingredient that is used in many cooked dishes the world over. It is also likely that most people will have had garlic that’s started to sprout lying about the kitchen. Did you know that you can use these single cloves to grow an entirely new garlic clove?

Next time you have some garlic that’s no longer useable for cooking why not try this.

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Getting left over garlic cloves to sprout

  1. Separate the old garlic into single cloves

Pull away the cloves from the main structure of the garlic and put to one side. Leave the shells on as this will protect the softer center from disease and infection.

  1. Fill a glass jar with around 3-4cm of rain water

In a sterilized glass jar such as a jam jar, pour in some rain water so it sits around 2cm or 3cm from the bottom o the vessel. Avoid using plastic and tap water, although these are relatively harmless. Rain water and glass are far more beneficial for the environment as a hole.

Which is what the Backyard Farmer project is all about.

  1. Place the separate cloves into the glass standing up, flat bottom facing down

You can now place your cloves into the water at the bottom of the jar. They should be standing upright with the flat bottom facing down, you can set them into position as you go.

The idea is that the cloves hold each other upright. If you cannot do this you need to use a smaller glass vessel preferably a similar diameter to a full clove of garlic.

  1. Leave the cloves out of direct sunlight for around 3-7 days

Put the jar in a light room but not in direct sunlight. Leave the cloves to sprout which should take anywhere between 3-7 days depending on the environment.

Planting the cloves

  1. Plant the sprouting garlic cloves in soil 1-2” deep and 3-4” apart

Your cloves should now have sprouted some green stems from the tops of the cloves. You can now plant these in the soil, garlic is a root vegetable so it likes well drained, loose soil that is PH neutral. The planting area should be an open area that receives good airflow and lots of sun.

If you are growing your garlic from fresh cloves, you can plant these directly into the soil.

Growing the garlic

  1. Allow to grow for approximately 4 months
  • Water every 3-4 days unless required
  • The rotting mulch will provide nutrients
  • Add mulch as needed to keep the crops protected
  • Cut off any flowers that start to develop as they will use up precious energy that should go to the bulb

Once the garlic is settled in and starting to grow (around 2 weeks after planting) you can lay down a blanket of mulch like hay, grass cuttings or old leaves.

Spread this around the sprouting garlic shoots, doing this will help protect the crops while they grow and retain moisture. It will also stop weeds growing and add nutrients to the soil below.

Garlic has no natural enemies and will grow quite well on its own. It is even effective at deterring pests from your raised beds making it a good plant for companion growing. Putting a border of garlic around your vegetables will help protect them from pests like:

  • Aphids
  • Ants
  • Army worms
  • Beetles
  • Borers
  • Caterpillars
  • Slugs,
  • Termites
  • White flies

One disease garlic can be prone to is called ‘White rot fungus’, this disease can also effect onions and leeks. It can be difficult to deal with and it’s sometimes better to move where you grow your alliums like garlic.

White rot fungus or Stromatinia cepivora will cause a yellowing of the leaves and a break down of the bulb and roots. A white fluffy fungus may also be present at the base of the bulb which may also contain black spores.

Plants suffering from white rot should be disposed of and the area marked unsuitable for garlic, onions, leeks and other members of the allium family.

Important things to note when growing garlic

  • You may struggle to grow from supermarket bought garlic as they are often sprayed with growth suppressant chemicals
  • You can plant garlic in any season however it is best planted in Autumn. Either way just make sure you give the cloves a coupe of months to bed in before the first frost.
  • The bigger cloves are more likely to produce better and stronger garlic plants
  • Garlic will not survive below -6c, if the temperature drops this low you should cover your garlic plants to keep them warm.

Harvesting your produce

If you planted your cloves in autumn they should be ready to harvest around 8 to 9 months later. Once your garlic is ready, the stems will start to yellow and die back. Stop watering your garlic patch at this point.

If you have planted your cloves in raised beds with loose soil then you will be able to pull the full garlic cloves from the ground.

When the soil is more firm, you may need to carefully break the soil up around the fully grown cloves in order to free it for harvest. Break up the soil and pull the garlic from the now loose earth.

  • Garlic grown from bigger cloves results in bigger bulbs at harvest

How to prepare and store home grown garlic

Once you have harvested your garlic you will want to prepare it for storage so that it will keep. To do this you need to;

  1. Clean off any excess soil and foliage
  2. Store the trimmed bulbs in a cool, dry dark place for a few weeks
  3. Garlic will keep for 3-5 months in these conditions

After their time in a dark dry place the garlic pearls will be ready for cooking with! Remember to repeat this process & save your larger cloves from the harvest for next years garlic bounty.

Not only does home grown garlic taste amazing, it is also another addition to reducing your carbon footprint.


With over 4,500 varieties of it would be a task to list them all. Go out there and explore the world of garlics, try a few new ones and grow some from their largest cloves.


Garlic has been used in recipes for over 5,000 years! Over that time this bulb has worked its way into a huge amount of meals that we produce the world over. Not only does it taste great, it also has some interesting medical properties.

Medical benefits and properties

Garlic has been used the world over in food, but it is also

Garlics medical properties include:

  • Easing of hardening arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Reduces pre-meal blood sugar levels in diabetics
  • Helps reduce cholesterol
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Shown to reduce chances of prostate cancer by nearly 50%
  • Prevents insect bites from things like ticks
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