How to Grow Garlic in Pots

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Growing garlic is not very difficult, but it does take some planning and a few tricks. All of the methods we’ll discuss require access to good soil which you must amend with compost before you plant your garlic cloves for best results.

Grow Garlic In Pots

Grow Garlic in Pots
Grow Garlic in Pots

Garlic prefers a moderate temperature, so an unheated porch or sunny windowsill should do nicely. A good way to start is to buy some large cloves from a garlic supplier and plant them in pots or cell packs.

Fill the pot with compost, two to three times the depth of the onion you’re going to insert. Cover the compost with sand or soil mixed with small pebbles, which will keep slugs from disturbing your precious garlic. Then plant as many cloves as you’d like, being careful that they are not crowded (3 inches apart).

Garlic’s “Food Chain”

Garlic needs nitrogen, and the best way to get it is to add some blood meal to your compost. Once you’ve put enough on your compost pile you can start planting.

You can test the soil with a kitchen thermometer, or just drop in clove and wait a little bit for it to sprout.

Garlic is a low-light plant; eventually the leaves will drop and garlic cloves will come up from their roots, which are buried in the soil.

Tip: If your cloves are not sprouting, it is likely that something else in the area has used up all of the nitrogen. If you don’t happen to have a blood meal on hand, go with a fertilizer made for young, growing plants, and be sure to water it regularly.

Doing a bit of research on garlic before planting can keep you from making any costly mistakes. You’ll find that garlic grows best in a well-drained, sunny spot. That means you should avoid planting it where tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants once grew.

All of these plants are members of the Solanaceae family (as are peppers, jalapenos, and a few other vegetables), and they produce substances in the soil that can stunt or kill off your new garlic plants.

If you’re going to grow your own garlic, be sure to plant it from organic seed. Commercial seeds like the ones offered in catalogs (usually found on the Internet) are treated with fungicides and are not recommended for growing your own.

When to Plant

Garlic likes cooler weather, so as soon as the frost is over, you should dig up your plants and start planting new cloves. You can pull up your plants about three weeks after frost, and if you wait much longer than that, it’s likely your ground will be too cold for good germination.

If you want to try your hand at growing garlic in a pot, it is best to place cloves in the ground at the beginning of fall. They can be planted while the ground is still warm.

Wait about three weeks before covering them with soil or sand so that they can grow roots before winter hits.

Garlic won’t grow well if planted later than September, and should be harvested within a year of planting for best results.

Choosing The Right Pot

Garlic needs about 18 inches of space to grow. Spacing for individual cloves should be about 3 inches apart, and you’ll need six to eight hours of sunlight per day. If your windows don’t get that much light, a sunny porch or unheated greenhouse is the best place.

Dense planting of garlic is not recommended; when you start to notice your cloves starting to droop in mid-summer, look for the thinning process.

When you buy garlic from the store, it is often already separated into small individual cloves. If you buy them this way, it’s a good idea to put them in cell packs and then dig them up at a later date so as not to disturb the soil around them.

This way you can plant your cloves closer together and they will have room to grow roots.

How to Grow Garlic in Pots
How to Grow Garlic in Pots

Choosing the Right Clove

It’s not a good idea to plant large cloves; instead, look for small ones. The cloves will retain their potency longer if planted separately and given ample space in which to grow.

If you have to plant already separated cloves, plant them two to three inches apart and thin them about a month later.

When each garlic clove has sprouted and grown into a full size plant (about 2 inches tall), thin it out so it only has one or two companions. This will help ensure the best flavor in your bulbs.

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Final Thoughts

Garlic is a simple plant to grow and can be started from seed or from large cloves. The key to thriving garlic is keeping it well fed with compost, nutrient-rich water, and the right amount of nutrients in the soil. Be sure to keep it away from other members of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants) in order to ensure its best growth.