Thursday, October 8, 2020

Growing your Garlic for the Home Gardener, Ottawa City Ontario Canada


Growing your own Garlic in Ottawa City, Ontario Canada (Greater Ottawa area)


Purpose of the article:

Planting Seeds for home gardener from 1 garlic to 500 cloves from a gardener perspective.

 In Ottawa, our planting window is usually in the month of October. So October 1-30 have been our regular planting

 Some growers have a wider window:

Sept 15: early     November 30: late planting


The basics:

 1.     Inspect and prepare your soil – Our soil type in Ottawa is mostly clay, that is what got to work on. Clay is a rich soil, with lots of nutrients, but its particles cling together. It has its challenge, when it is too dry, its like concrete. When it is too wet, it can rot your garlic.

We prepare our soil by using a garden fork and loosening the soil. We added bags of compost: either you make your own, or few bags from your garden center. We have use composted mushroom, composted manure, and leave in the garden for a week to blend. Rain help to work it in, or water your plot if it is small.


We create raise beds:   4 foot wide and 20 ft long,

 ( see sample planting map) you need 60 seeds.






































































































































Spacing: 1 ft per row, 6 inches apart

Planting Depth: 1” to 3” depending on your area.

Single  row x 20 ft: you need 40 seeds


The distances are recommended optimal growing conditions, there are gardeners that space is 3 inches apart (intensive growing).  


2.     Plant cloves in the Fall ( October 1-October 31)

Seed garlic: for home gardeners, you can buy a whole bulb of garlic in the farmers market, use some of the kitchen, you like the flavor, you save a clove or two and plant in the garden. Voila! You have a new garlic for next year.

This is a picture of my Hardneck Garlic – variety : Music – these are usually large cloves, like the elephant garlic in the Philippines.


Figure 1: Hardneck garlic: Music cloves



Figure 2: Hardneck G: Music cloves: left   Right: Bulbil - A true seed garlic, variety: Creme de la Rasa


True Seed: Bulbils (see figure 2.0)  

The hard neck garlic will form a scape, which then have a flower head. The flower open and its so pretty and after that, it dries and turned into a seed.

These seeds will take 2 to 3 growing season of harvesting and replanting until before you can harvest a good size garlic to eat. Majority of home gardeners, prefer to have cloves (a division of the bulb) because you will have eating garlic next year harvested around July for Hardeneck-Porcelain-Music.

What to do after planting?

Remove the weeds around the garlic plots, garlic do not  like competition. 

Have a marker of your garlic, double the ink – I learned the hard way when the sharpie was blurred out. Here are samples of my garlic marker, it is made of left over 2 x 4 building materials. It is heavy enough that it does not fly off when the wind blows.




Yes, we sell seeds of Hardneck: Porcelain - Music,  Purple Stripe – Purple Glazer (small), Purple Stripe -Duganski ( small).

3.     Mulch for winter , it can be wood chips or straw.

4.     Use straw to cover the garlic, last year I put 6 inches of hay on top of my garlic. That is the blanket from winter snow.

 5.     Spring Chores – inspect your garlic bed, remove some of the straw so that your garlic can come up easily. I do this once the snow melts, around last week of April or May.

 Fertilizing: Once the little plants come out, we fertilize them, a handful of compost or bonemeal pellets about a teaspoon or 1 pinch.

 Weeding – remove the weeds by using a hoe, if you have a straight  row, it is easy to pass the hoe. Do this once or twice a week as needed. Garlic do not grow well with weed as competition. If you cannot weed your garlic patch, you will harvest small bulbs at the end of the season and you will be disappointed.

Watering: Garlic likes to drink too, so water regularly as needed.  

 Garlic Scapes – garlic will produce scapes and will produce flowers and seeds (bulbils). Cut the scapes, use it like onion, it is delicious. If you left the scapes on, you will not have big bulbs because the garlic energy is spent on producing seed, and no big bulbs.

 6.     Summer Harvesting and Curing

 Around July first week, right after Canada Day I inspect my garlic beds of Music, usually the last left on the bottom starts turning brown. It is about week 2 or 3 of July when 3 leaves at the bottom are brown, then it is harvest time. Some folks dig the garlic a little bit to expose the bulbs, and see if it looks ready. How can you tell? Time and experience will – they must look firm and well rounded.

 Harvesting can be done by using a fork or loosening the soil around your garlic. If you have no fork and you have a trowel, and you got few bulbs, that is fine.

 Yes, you can try and eat fresh garlic, just pulled from the ground. It is mild and nice taste to it.

 Curing is a process to dry your garlic so that it will keep for long. I have mine until 6 months, or before we eat it all or sold out.

 Since we started withs small amount, we did bundle our garlic in bunches of 5 and hang in our shed. After 2-3 weeks, we take it down, cut the leaves and dust the dry dirt.

We leave 2 inches of stalk and put it in a garlic bag or inside a milk create to continue drying. By about august 15th, the garlic is dry.

Inspect the little nicks and skin. Those that have little bruise, use them first. Or peel and put in pickling vinegar for future use.

 Save the big cloves for October planting.

 (note: we grow garlic for farmers market and direct selling, and it is a separate growing scale using commercial seed from Clean Seed Programs in ontario)

 I found this video online about garlic and planting: you will find useful information. 

Garlic Planting and Harvesting Video  Information

 More Information:


1.     John Boy Garlic (Manitoba_ -

2. Rasa Creek Farms (British Columbia) -

3. The Garlic Family Tree and Where Garlic Come from? by Bob Anderson, an article from Boundary Garlic Farm in British Columbia

4.  Garlic Growing 101 - A Garlic Growers Beginners Reference Guide – Ontario




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