Garlic 101

Garlic 101

Mm, Garlic…It makes almost every dish better! Who doesn’t add a little extra garlic in their recipes? Roasted garlic, garlic bread, garlic potatoes, honey garlic...the more the better! If you enjoy cooking then you know the difference in taste between using fresh garlic and minced garlic from a jar. You might even know the difference between "fresh" garlic from the store and fresh garlic from your garden. At Wildwood Outdoor Living, we have been growing garlic for over 40 years and we've grown many different kinds of it. Spanish Roja, German Red Hardneck, Chesnok Hardneck, Garlic Legacy, Garlic Siberian, Garlic Duganski, Garlic Elephant, Red Russian Garlic and more! If you're interested in growing garlic or if you already grow it and you're interested in learning more about the different kinds, you're in the right place. In this blog you'll find our tried and true methods of growing garlic, as well as some interesting garlic choices you'll  want to try growing this season.

1.) Types of Garlic: Hardneck & Softneck

A comparison between hardneck and softneck garlic.
Photo by David Fuller | Image by


Softneck: Softneck garlic grow much quicker than Hardneck Garlic. They enjoy warmer climates and produces many small cloves per 1 bulb. Unlike Hardneck, they don't grow flowers known as scapes but they do tend to store better. Below are the two most common types of Softneck garlic.

Artichoke: Artichoke Garlic resemble the flowering of an artichoke. They grow 10-14 multi-size cloves. They produce no scape and require less work.

Silverskin: The best performer in garlic storage! Known for their spicy and complex taste. Silverskin Garlic can be stored for up to 12 months.

Hardneck: Hardneck garlic produce a woody stock with a flower called scape. Garlic scapes are highly enjoyed in cooking and produce foods like pesto! When harvested you can expect a single row of cloves wrapped together in a papery sheath to form the head of bulb of garlic. Hardneck garlic grows big bulbs and enjoy cooler climates. Here are some of the best garlic choices for you to try this season.



Per bulb:




Strong, Fiery

5-7 Cloves


Strong, long-lasting heat. One of the hottest hardneck varieties


Strong, Fiery

7-10 Cloves


Fiery flavor that mellows out to a rich garlic aftertaste

German Red

Strong, Spicy

5-7 Cloves


Great full-bodied and long-lasting flavor. Stores very well

German White

Strong, Robust

5-7 Cloves


Great for roasting. Stores very well. Grows great in northern locations


Medium, Strong

7-12 Cloves


Great flavor. Easy to peel. Cold hardy.


Strong, Hot

5-7 Cloves


Cold Hardy, vigorous grower and long lasting in storage.

Mexican Purple 

Rich, Medium

8-16 Cloves

Small, Medium

Milder flavor when baked. Colorful.


Medium, Strong

4-7 Cloves


Cold hardy. Very hot when eaten raw. Great for roasting.

Russian Red

Strong, Hot

6-8 Cloves


Cold hardy. Grows great in northern locations.


Strong, Hot

5-9 Cloves


Mild flavor when stored. Great for roasting/cooking

Spanish Roja

Rich, Spicy

8-9 Cloves


Rich complex flavor, long-lasting taste. Excellent for cold climates.


2.) Growing Garlic

When To Grow Garlic: Plant in mid-September to October, at least 4 weeks before ground freezing. Many varieties can also be planted in early Spring.

How To Plant Garlic: Break bulbs into individual cloves. Make sure cloves are hard and solid. Plant larger cloves as they will produce larger bulbs - you can use the smaller cloves for dinner! Plant root plate end down, 3 inches deep, in well-drained soil. Add organic matter/ manure or mulch on top. Raised beds are recommended, as soil should be well draining. Spacing of at least 5 inches on 1-foot rows will provide adequate sunshine, any extra spacing will allow bulbs to grow larger. Keep soil moist.

3.) Harvesting Garlic

Growing/Harvesting Garlic: In the spring, harvest the flowers 10-14 days after they appear. This allows the plant to put its energy into the bulb in the ground, not into making seeds. In July, harvest the bulb once it has matured, and the leaves brown off . Dig from ground, and immediately brush off the soil from around the roots, very gently!

Curing & Storing Garlic: Drying is an essential part of curing the bulbs, so do not wash them in water. Remove from direct sunlight, and leave under cover in a breezy area. With stalks/leaves attached, tie in bundles, or spread on screens/drying racks. Two weeks drying time is ideal. To store, hang in netted sacks/bags. Store in a cool, dry and well ventilated area with a stable temperature of 15°C.

You know the best part of growing garlic? That they multiply and they store well, so you will never run out! Garlic is one of the easiest, most versatile plants to grow this season. It adds flavor to almost every dish and makes a well received gift when you have enough to share. Enjoy your garlic planting, and please feel free to share any tips and tricks you have for planting garlic!

Have a suggestion or question?
Let us know at 
Sign up here for more blogs dedicated to better gardening!

You may also like View all