Should you grow garlic? It’s a fair question and the answer might not be as simple as you think.
Sure, it truly is one of the easiest crops for a beginner to grow, but depending on your garden goals, it might not be the best fit for you.
In this episode of the Beginner’s Garden Podcast and the post below, I discuss 3 reasons to include garlic in your garden, and 1 reason you might skip it. That one reason is a pretty big one, and it’s one I rarely hear anyone discussing.
(Click below to listen to the podcast episode, or continue reading.)
Growing Garlic: Easy and Rewarding
Garlic is the easiest annual crop I grow. I simply plop the cloves in the ground in the fall, cover them with mulch, and wait. When the days begin lengthening and the temperature warms, little green shoots emerge from the soil. In my area, they grow strong and tall until they are ready to harvest in early June.
Garlic: the Perfect Succession Plant
Because I harvest garlic in early June, I’ve learned to grow peppers in the same space. After starting my pepper plants from seed indoors, I transplant them to the garlic bed in May. The garlic is tall and strong, and the pepper seedlings nestle in between the rows. After I dig up the garlic in June, the peppers take off in the heat, giving me two crops from one garden space.
Here is a video where I show exactly how I use succession planting with garlic:
I live in the Southeastern US, where I grow fast-maturing softneck garlic. This is how I’m able to harvest garlic in June. But for those of you in more northern areas, your garlic may not be ready to harvest until July or even early August. In that case, you can still use succession planting by planting your fall crops in the ground after your garlic comes out.
One Fewer Item on the Grocery List
Maybe it’s just me, but growing enough of an item to last me all season is one of my biggest delights in gardening. Knowing that I never have to write “garlic” on my grocery list is reason enough to grow it. Because I grow softneck garlic (common in warmer climates), the shelf-life enables me to use my harvest year-round. But even those of you who grow hardneck garlic can preserve your cloves in many ways such as fermenting, pickling, or drying into powder.
But Growing Garlic is Not Cost-Efficient (At First)
You don’t want to plant garlic you bought at the grocery store (they aren’t certified disease-free and can introduce harmful diseases into your soil), and buying seed garlic isn’t cheap. One year my purchase cost $14.50 for a half pound. This gave me 4 heads, with about 10 cloves each.
I planted 40 cloves, which yielded 40 heads of garlic. That put my cost per pound at roughly $5.90. Since I can buy garlic at the grocery store for $0.39 per pound, you can see it’s not cost-efficient the first season.
BUT after a few years I was finally able to harvest enough garlic both to use and to save for planting. Now, I plant garlic year after year without buying seed garlic at all. Though it takes a few years to break even, you can eventually grow free garlic!
Bottom line: if you’re looking to gardening to save money right away, garlic isn’t your most cost-effective crop. But if you’re looking at the long-term gain, enjoy the fun of growing an easy crop, and want to make double use of a garden space, growing garlic is a perfect addition to your garden.
If you decide to grow garlic, I make it easy with my FREE Garlic Planting Cheat Sheet! Enter your e-mail address and I’ll send it straight to you!
Garlic Planting Cheat Sheet
Garlic is the easiest and most rewarding plant you can grow! All you have to know is some basics:
- WHEN to plant
- WHAT KIND to plant
- WHERE to purchase
- WHERE NOT to purchase
- The simplest WAY to plant, whether you have a raised bed, a plot of land, or container. This step is SUPER EASY!
Enter your e-mail address, and I'll send you the cheat sheet immediately!
Plus, I'll send you my "In the Garden E-mail" on Fridays, periodic updates on garden resources relevant to you, and get access to my entire bank of free garden downloads!