Garlic Growing Guide

Garlic is one of the easiest and least fuss vege crops you can grow. It takes up hardly any room (width wise above the soil) and once planted it requires little care. Packed with flavour and health properties, it’s a superfood of the garden! Traditionally garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest day, however it can be planted in both autumn and winter.

Garlic is used daily in many kitchens worldwide – it can be used both cooked and raw, in everything from salads to seafood dishes. Garlic goes especially well with prawns, chicken, lamb, bread, olives and pasta.

Garlic thrives if given basics - food, water and plenty of sun. It will grow in both garden beds and containers.


The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like sheep pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix. Ideally leave the soil for a day or two, or until the next weekend before planting. This allows the compost and worms to harmonise and adjust before planting.

If planting in pots and containers use Tui Vegetable Mix.


Garlic bulbs are readily available in garden centres in winter, buy a whole bulb like you would at the supermarket. Steer clear of planting garlic from supermarkets as often it has been treated to stop it sprouting away in the supermarket – particularly if it’s been imported from China.

Planting in garden beds:

  • Break up each bulb into cloves, it is these cloves which you plant NOT the whole bulb.
  • Bury each clove finger depth at least 5cm below the ground (twice as deep as the length of the clove). Shallow planting will cause big problems. When the plants grow the roots can’t support the weight of the heavy leaves and fall over, pulling the whole plant out of the ground. Hence always plant deep!
  • Once planted, shoots will appear within a month or so.

Planting in pots and containers:

  • Garlic is happy growing in pots and containers, in a pot the size of a kitchen bucket you can plant about six cloves of garlic.
  • Choose a pot or container with good drainage and position in a spot that receives full sun.
  • Break up each bulb into cloves, it is these cloves which you plant NOT the whole bulb.
  • Fill with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Bury each clove finger depth at least 5cm below the mix (twice as deep as the length of the clove).


Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential.

For garlic planted in garden beds feed every four weeks during key growth periods. Tui Vegetable Food is a rich formulation of fertilisers including dolomite, blood and bone and sheep manure dust designed to encourage healthy vegetable growth and microbial and earthworm activity in the soil. If planting in pots and containers use an all purpose variety, such as Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic through the season to encourage larger cloves.

Garlic needs to be kept well watered to produce large bulbs, particularly as the bulbs are starting to form in November and December.

Well watered, well nourished plants will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.


The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your garden.

Keep your garden weed free. Protect your garlic plants from the elements with layers of Tui Pea Straw Mulch to keep the soil moist and cool when the garlic is actively growing.

Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your garlic plants. Garlic is relatively pest and disease free. If aphids are a problem treat with a suitable insect control from your garden centre.


Harvest in summer once the tops start to die back. Don’t be tempted to pull the bulbs out by the leaves, dig up with a fork and leave to dry on the top of the ground for a week or so, then plait and store somewhere dry and away from direct sunlight.

Keep a few good heads of your own garlic to use as the stock of next year’s crop. You can expect about 150 plants from a dozen heads of garlic.