University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Extension in your Community > Morrison > County Horticulture Educator > Articles > Time to Plant Garlic

print icon email icon share icon

Time to Plant Garlic

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
September 14, 2016           

Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Time to Plant Garlic
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (9/14/16) — Soon the temperatures will be dropping below the freezing level and we will have a killing frost in the area which indicates it is time to plant your garlic cloves. The optimal time to plant garlic in Minnesota is within one to two weeks after the first killing frost. Garlic is a member of the onion family and can produce a bountiful crop if the site, nutrients, and variety selection is done well.

Garlic commonly grown in Minnesota is in the hardneck category.  This group is more cold hardy, while the softneck category is most commonly grown in California commercial production. There are a numerous varieties on the market to purchase and plant; often trials are needed for the grower to determine which perform best at their growing location.

Garlic grows best in well-drained soils with high organic matter and a pH between 6 to 7. It is also considered a moderate to high nitrogen user so utilizing a green or well composted manure may be beneficial. Excessive water or drought conditions will reduce yield.
Prep the site by loosening the soil and adding appropriate amendments if necessary.  Do not separate the individual cloves from the bulb until the day of or up to two days before planting.  Plant garlic cloves 6-inches apart within the row and space the rows 30-inches apart. Closer row planting is possible, but maintenance and garlic yield size may be sacrificed.  Plant the cloves pointed side up with the base of the clove being two to three inches below the soil surface. After planting, cover rows with three to four-inches of mulch to moderate temperatures; remove mulch in spring after the chance of freezing has past.
A few tips to keep in mind during the growing season are: 1) Keep garlic watered, they have shallow root systems and lack of water will result in smaller or deformed yields; 2) In June, garlic will send up “scapes” which is the flowering stalk; simply remove when they start to curl, they are edible. Do not let your garlic go to seed to encourage the plant to put the energy in the bulbs 3) Stop watering when approximately half the foliage begins to brown and tip over.
In early July the lower leaves will start to brown.  Monitor the crop and when just about half the leaves are still green, pull a few bulbs. Cut them in half and examine if the cloves fill the sins; if so, they are ready to harvest. Tips on harvesting garlic include: 1) harvest when the soil is dry 2) gently dig the garlic from the ground with shoots and roots still attached 3) tie in bundles of 10-15, hang to cure for three to four weeks in a cool, well-ventilated area 4) after curing, cut tops down to ½-1-inch, store in 32-40°F with 60-70% humidity, but not in the refrigerator.
For more information visit and type “garlic” into the search bar.

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.