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How to Plant Garlic in Minnesota: Expert Tips!

Are you tired of store-bought garlic that lacks flavor and freshness? Want to take matters into your own hands and grow your own supply of delicious garlic bulbs right here in Minnesota? Well, you’re in luck! In this guide, our master gardener will show you how to plant garlic in Minnesota, so you can enjoy the taste and satisfaction of homegrown goodness. Our expert growers recommend using raised beds to cultivate your garlic seed for optimal results.

Understanding the local climate and soil conditions is crucial for the success of garlic growers. The northern regions of Minnesota can pose unique challenges, but with the right knowledge and techniques, even hard neck garlic varieties can thrive. From true garlic aficionados to aspiring green thumbs, this guide will equip you with everything you need to know about planting cloves in raised beds and seed selection.

But before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of growing garlic in Minnesota, let’s take a quick look at the benefits for growers. Not only will you have a fresh supply of aromatic garlic cloves for all your culinary adventures, but planting garlic seeds also allows you to connect with nature and nurture a sense of self-sufficiency. Plus, who doesn’t love the satisfaction that comes from harvesting and enjoying your own food from the grocery store?

So grab your gardening gloves and get ready to embark on a flavorful journey as we explore the ins and outs of growing garlic cloves in beautiful Minnesota. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, spring is the perfect time to plant cloves and join the community of garlic growers. With the right soils and proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious garlic.

How to Plant Garlic in Minnesota? Factors to Consider for Successful Garlic Planting in Minnesota

Selecting Healthy Garlic Cloves

Choosing healthy garlic cloves is crucial for successful planting in Minnesota. Healthy cloves ensure strong and vigorous growth, leading to a bountiful harvest for growers. When selecting garlic cloves in the spring, growers should look for the following characteristics: healthy cloves, strong growth, and bountiful harvests. It’s important to consider the fertility of the soils when choosing garlic cloves for planting.

  • Firmness: Opt for cloves that are firm and free from any soft spots or signs of decay.
  • Size: Larger cloves tend to produce bigger bulbs, so select cloves that are plump and well-developed.
  • Appearance: Choose cloves with papery skins intact and avoid any with mold or discoloration.

By carefully handpicking healthy garlic cloves, you ensure the success of your crop. The quality of the soils in which you plant the bulbils is crucial for their growth and development. Remember to store the harvested garlic properly to maintain its freshness. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a reply.

Proper Spacing Between Garlic Plants

The spacing between garlic plants is crucial for the growth and development of the bulbs. Adequate spacing promotes airflow, reduces disease transmission risk, and allows each plant enough room to grow into robust bulbs. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper spacing for your garlic plants.

  1. Row Spacing: Maintain a distance of 6-8 inches between rows to provide ample space for easy access during maintenance tasks.
  2. Plant Spacing: Place individual garlic cloves 4-6 inches apart within each row to allow sufficient room for bulb expansion.

By giving your garlic plants adequate space, you promote healthier growth and minimize competition among neighboring plants. Additionally, this allows for better airflow and sunlight exposure, which are crucial for the overall development of your garlic plants. When it comes to replying to comments on your blog posts, it is important to engage with your audience and provide valuable content. This not only encourages discussion but also helps to build a loyal following.

Sunlight and Water Requirements

Garlic thrives when provided with optimal sunlight exposure and appropriate watering. Pay attention to the following factors to ensure the content growth of your garlic plants and be sure to reply to any comments or questions from your readers.

  1. Sunlight: Choose a planting location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. This helps maximize photosynthesis, resulting in stronger plants and larger bulbs.
  2. Watering: Garlic requires consistent moisture throughout its growing period but can be sensitive to excessive waterlogging. Strike a balance by following these watering tips:
    • Water regularly but avoid overwatering that leads to waterlogged soil.
    • Check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger into the ground. If it feels dry at a depth of 1-2 inches, it’s time to water.
    • Apply mulch around the plants to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Remember, garlic plants need well-drained soil, so ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot.

By providing adequate sunlight and maintaining appropriate watering practices, you create favorable conditions for your garlic crop’s success in Minnesota.

how to plant garlic in minnesota

Best Time to Plant Garlic in Minnesota for Maximum Harvest

Fall: The Ideal Time to Plant Garlic in Minnesota

Fall is the ideal time for maximum harvest. The cool temperatures and moist soil during this season create the perfect conditions for garlic bulbs to establish strong roots before winter sets in. By planting garlic in the fall, you give it ample time to develop a robust root system, resulting in larger and healthier bulbs when it’s time to harvest.

September or October: Suitable Months for Planting Garlic Bulbs

In Minnesota, September and October are the prime months for planting garlic bulbs. This timing allows the cloves to settle into the ground before the first frost arrives. It’s important to plant garlic at least two weeks before the ground freezes, giving them enough time to establish roots and prepare for dormancy during winter.

To ensure a successful garlic harvest, follow these steps when planting in September or October:

  1. Choose a sunny location: Garlic thrives in full sun, so select a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
  2. Prepare the soil: Dig up the soil about 8-10 inches deep and remove any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to improve drainage.
  3. Add organic matter: Incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil to enrich its fertility and provide essential nutrients for healthy bulb development.
  4. Plant individual cloves: Break apart your garlic bulb into separate cloves right before planting. Place each clove about 2 inches deep with the pointed end facing up.
  5. Space properly: Leave approximately 6-8 inches of space between each clove and maintain rows that are 12-18 inches apart.
  6. Mulch generously: Cover your planted cloves with a layer of straw or mulch about 4-6 inches thick. This will help insulate the soil and protect the garlic from extreme temperature fluctuations during winter.
  7. Water adequately: After planting, water the cloves thoroughly to settle the soil around them. Throughout fall, keep the soil slightly moist but avoid overwatering.

Early Spring Planting: An Alternative Option

If you missed the fall window for planting garlic in Minnesota, early spring can be a viable alternative. While it may not yield as large of a harvest as fall-planted garlic, you can still enjoy a decent crop by following these steps:

  1. Timing is key: Aim to plant your garlic cloves in late March or early April when the ground has thawed but before significant growth occurs.
  2. Prepare the soil: Follow similar soil preparation steps as mentioned above for fall planting.
  3. Adjust spacing: Since spring-planted garlic has less time to grow, provide extra space between cloves—around 8-10 inches apart—and maintain wider rows of approximately 18-24 inches.
  4. Mulch and water: Apply a layer of mulch after planting and ensure consistent moisture throughout spring and summer.
how to plant garlic in minnesota

Selecting the Right Garlic Variety for Minnesota Climate

Growing garlic in Minnesota’s cold climate can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to choose the right variety that will thrive in these conditions. With a wide range of garlic varieties available, each with its own unique characteristics, selecting the perfect one can seem overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll explore different types of garlic varieties suitable for growing in Minnesota and highlight key factors to consider when making your selection.

Overview of Different Garlic Varieties

There are two main types: hardneck and softneck. Both have their advantages and thrive well in colder climates like Minnesota.

  1. Hardneck Varieties: These garlic varieties are known for their hard central stem or “neck” which produces a flower stalk called a scape. They typically have larger cloves and offer robust flavors. Some popular hardneck varieties suitable for Minnesota include:
    • Purple Stripe: This variety has beautiful purple streaks on its skin and offers a rich flavor.
    • Porcelain: Known for its large cloves and mild yet complex taste.
    • Rocambole: Renowned for its full-bodied flavor profile and easy-to-peel cloves.
  2. Softneck Varieties: Softneck garlic lacks the central hard stem found in hardneck varieties but compensates with longer shelf life and easier braiding capabilities. While they may not withstand extreme cold as well as hardnecks, some softneck options that do well in Minnesota include:
    • Inchelium Red: A versatile softneck variety with medium-sized bulbs and a mild flavor.
    • California Early: Known for its early maturity, this variety adapts well to colder weather conditions.
    • Silverskin: A long-storing softneck option that thrives even during harsh winters.

Emphasizing Cold-Hardy Varieties

Minnesota’s frigid winters require garlic varieties that can withstand frost and cold temperatures. When selecting a variety, consider the following factors:

  1. Winter Hardiness: Look for garlic varieties that are specifically labeled as “cold-hardy” or “winter-hardy.” These varieties have been bred to tolerate freezing temperatures and will have a better chance of surviving harsh Minnesota winters.
  2. Clove Size: Larger cloves tend to be hardier and more resistant to cold weather than smaller ones. Opt for garlic bulbs with larger cloves, as they are more likely to produce robust plants that can withstand the winter season.

Highlighting Specific Characteristics

Apart from winter hardiness, other characteristics such as flavor, size, and storage potential should also influence your choice of garlic variety.

  1. Flavor Profiles: Garlic varieties offer a range of flavors, from mild and sweet to pungent and spicy. Consider your personal taste preferences when selecting a variety. For example:
    • If you enjoy milder flavors, softneck varieties like Inchelium Red may be ideal.
    • For those seeking bold and intense flavors, hardneck varieties like Rocambole could be an excellent choice.
  2. Bulb Size: Garlic bulb size can vary significantly between different varieties.
how to plant garlic in minnesota

Preparing Soil for Garlic Planting: Fertility and pH Levels

Preparing the soil is crucial for successful growth. We’ll also explore organic matter amendments that can enhance the health of your garlic plants.

Importance of conducting a soil test

Before planting any crop, including garlic, it’s essential to understand the fertility levels of your soil. Conducting a soil test provides valuable insights into its nutrient composition. By knowing the specific needs of your soil, you can make informed decisions about fertilization and amendments.

A soil test will reveal if your soil lacks essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. It will also indicate if there are excessive amounts of these nutrients that could harm your garlic plants. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your fertilizer application accordingly.

Maintaining optimal pH levels

Garlic thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH level around 6.0. This acidity allows for better nutrient availability to the plants’ roots and promotes healthy growth. If your soil’s pH deviates significantly from this ideal range, adjusting it becomes necessary.

To raise pH:

  1. Incorporate lime into the soil based on recommendations from your soil test.
  2. Mix well to ensure even distribution.
  3. Retest after a few weeks to monitor changes in pH levels.

To lower pH:

  1. Add elemental sulfur or acidifying agents like peat moss.
  2. Follow recommended application rates based on your specific situation.
  3. Thoroughly mix these amendments into the topsoil.

Organic matter amendments

Adding organic matter to your garden beds improves overall soil structure and fertility while enhancing water retention capabilities—a win-win situation for growing robust garlic plants.

Consider incorporating compost or well-aged manure into your planting area before sowing garlic cloves. These organic matter amendments provide a slow-release source of nutrients, ensuring a steady supply throughout the growing season.

Benefits of organic matter amendments:

  • Enhances soil structure, allowing for better root penetration and nutrient uptake.
  • Improves water-holding capacity, reducing the risk of drought stress.
  • Boosts microbial activity, promoting a healthy soil ecosystem.
  • Provides essential macronutrients and micronutrients required for garlic’s growth.

Proper Steps for Separating and Planting Garlic Cloves in Minnesota

Step-by-step instructions on how to separate individual cloves from a garlic bulb

  1. Start by selecting a healthy garlic bulb. Look for bulbs that are firm, plump, and free from any signs of disease or damage.
  2. Gently break apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves. Be careful not to damage the cloves while separating them.
  3. Remove any loose outer layers of skin from each clove, but leave the papery skin intact.

Demonstration on proper depth and spacing while planting cloves into prepared soil beds

  1. Prepare your soil beds by loosening the soil with a garden fork or tiller. Garlic prefers well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
  2. Dig a trench in your prepared soil bed that is approximately 2 inches deep.
  3. Place each garlic clove into the trench with the pointy end facing up and the root side facing down.
  4. Space the cloves approximately 6 inches apart to allow room for growth.

Mentioning techniques like pointy end up, root side down while placing cloves

  1. Ensure that you plant the garlic cloves with the pointy end facing up. This is where the shoot will emerge from when it starts growing.
  2. The root side of the clove should be placed facing down into the soil. This is where the roots will develop and anchor the plant.

Remember, these steps are crucial for successful garlic cultivation in Minnesota’s climate.

By following these proper steps for separating and planting garlic cloves, you’ll give your garlic plants a great start towards healthy growth and delicious harvests.

In addition to these steps, there are a few more tips to keep in mind:

  • Water your newly planted garlic thoroughly after planting to settle it into place.
  • Mulch around your plants with straw or leaves to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.
  • Monitor the moisture levels of the soil and water when necessary, ensuring that it doesn’t become waterlogged.
  • Fertilize your garlic plants with a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring to provide them with essential nutrients.
  • Remove any flower stalks that appear, as they can divert energy away from bulb development.

By following these guidelines and giving your garlic plants the care they need, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a bountiful harvest of flavorful garlic cloves. Happy planting!

How to Care for Garlic Plants during the Growing Season in Minnesota

Regular Watering: Keeping Your Garlic Hydrated without Overwatering

One of the essential aspects of caring for garlic plants during the growing season in Minnesota is providing regular watering. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and avoid overwatering, especially during dry periods. Here are some tips to help you keep your garlic hydrated effectively:

  • Water deeply: Ensure that your garlic plants receive a thorough watering, allowing the moisture to reach deep into the soil. Shallow watering may lead to shallow root growth, making the plants more susceptible to drought.
  • Monitor soil moisture: Use a moisture meter or simply dig your finger into the soil to check its moisture level. Garlic requires consistently moist but not waterlogged soil. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week, adjusting as necessary based on rainfall and weather conditions.
  • Mulching benefits: Apply a layer of organic mulch around your garlic plants. This helps conserve soil moisture by reducing evaporation and suppressing weed growth.

Weed Control and Conserving Soil Moisture with Mulching

Weed control is another vital aspect of caring for garlic plants in Minnesota. Weeds compete with garlic for nutrients, sunlight, and water resources, hindering their growth. Here’s how mulching can aid in weed control while conserving soil moisture:

  • Suppress weed growth: A thick layer of mulch acts as a barrier against weeds, preventing them from germinating and growing near your garlic plants.
  • Retain soil moisture: Mulch helps retain soil moisture by reducing evaporation caused by direct exposure to sunlight. This is particularly beneficial during hot summer months when water evaporates quickly.

Redirecting Energy towards Bulb Development by Removing Garlic Scapes

To ensure robust bulb development in your garlic plants, it’s crucial to remove the scapes—those curly stalks that emerge from the center of the plant. Here’s why removing garlic scapes is essential:

  • Energy redirection: By removing the scapes, you redirect the plant’s energy towards bulb development rather than flower production. This results in larger and healthier garlic bulbs.
  • Preventing disease: Leaving scapes on the plants increases the risk of fungal diseases as they create a microclimate that encourages moisture retention.

To remove garlic scapes, simply snap or cut them off when they start to curl but before they fully straighten. You can use these delicious scapes in various culinary preparations, adding a mild garlic flavor to your dishes.

Caring for your garlic plants during Minnesota’s growing season involves providing regular watering without overwatering, using mulch for weed control and soil moisture conservation, and removing garlic scapes to promote bulb development. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to growing healthy and flavorful garlic in your garden.

Remember, consistent care throughout the growing season will yield bountiful harvests of this versatile and aromatic herb!


In conclusion, successfully planting garlic in Minnesota requires careful consideration of various factors. Timing is crucial, and planting in the fall before the ground freezes allows for maximum harvest. It is essential to choose the right garlic variety that can thrive in Minnesota’s climate. Preparing the soil by ensuring proper fertility and pH levels is vital for healthy plant growth.

It is important to separate them carefully and plant them at the right depth. Throughout the growing season, providing adequate care such as watering, weeding, and mulching will help your garlic plants flourish in Minnesota.

To summarize:

  • Consider factors such as timing, variety selection, and soil preparation for successful garlic planting.
  • Separate and plant garlic cloves properly to ensure healthy growth.
  • Provide consistent care throughout the growing season.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can increase your chances of a bountiful garlic harvest in Minnesota.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started with planting your own delicious garlic crop! Remember to share your success stories with fellow gardeners or even try out some new recipes featuring your homegrown garlic.

Happy gardening!


Q: How deep should I plant my garlic cloves?

A: Garlic cloves should be planted about 2 inches deep into well-prepared soil.

Q: Can I use store-bought garlic for planting?

A: While store-bought garlic can be used for planting, it is recommended to source organic or heirloom varieties from reputable seed companies for better results.

Q: How often should I water my garlic plants?

A: Garlic plants require regular watering, especially during dry periods. Aim for about an inch of water per week.

Q: Should I fertilize my garlic plants?

A: Yes, applying a balanced fertilizer before planting and side-dressing with nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the growing season can promote healthy growth.

Q: When is the best time to harvest garlic in Minnesota?

A: Garlic is typically ready for harvest in Minnesota around mid to late summer when the leaves start to turn yellow and dry out.

Q: Can I replant garlic cloves from my harvested bulbs?

A: Yes, you can save some of your harvested bulbs for replanting in the next growing season. Just make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place until planting time.

Q: How long does it take for garlic to grow from planting to harvest?

A: Garlic usually takes about 8-9 months from planting to harvesting, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

Q: Are there any pests or diseases that affect garlic in Minnesota?

A: Garlic can be susceptible to pests like onion maggots and diseases like white rot. Practicing crop rotation, proper sanitation, and using organic pest control methods can help prevent these issues.

Q: Can I grow garlic indoors in Minnesota during winter?

A: Yes, you can grow garlic indoors during winter using containers or pots. Provide adequate light and maintain a consistent temperature for successful indoor cultivation.