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Growing Garlic in North Dakota

Fall is the time to plant garlic, and now is the time to purchase your bulbs.


This is a great time of year. It’s harvest season, and it’s a joy to be eating fresh vegetables from the garden.

Most of us don’t think about planting now, but if you want to take your garden to the next level, think about growing garlic. It will add amazing flavors to your meals next summer.

Fall is the time to plant garlic, and now is the time to purchase your bulbs. 

Garlic types include hardneck, softneck and elephant. Hardneck types are hardiest and most suitable for us in North Dakota.

Numerous seed companies offer garlic cloves. It’s important to purchase your cloves as soon as possible. Supplies of the finest varieties are limited and in high demand. Your local garden center is another good place to buy hardy garlic bulbs.

Popular hardneck varieties in North Dakota include ‘Music’ and ‘German Extra Hardy’. These German varieties produce large cloves and are very reliable.

It’s fun to try other varieties from around the world. Varieties are available from Spain, Romania, the Middle East, Siberia and the Orient. Some of these varieties taste mild while others have bold and pungent flavors. Some varieties are prized for baking, while others are selected for roasting or frying. The cloves come in shades of white and purple, many in bright stripes.

Garlic is planted soon after the first hard frost, which is usually in late September or early October.

The cloves grow best in a rich, well-drained soil. Add an inch of compost to the site and 2 to 3 pounds of 10–10–10 per 100 square feet. Work this into the soil.

Separate cloves from the bulbs a day before planting. Set cloves upright in the furrow, pointed end up, 4–6 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Space rows 18–30 inches apart.

Water deeply to activate the cloves. The cloves will push out roots and underground shoots this fall. Mulch with 4 inches of straw in November. This straw will insulate the soil and protect the sprouted bulbs.

Next year the sprouts will shoot out of the ground. Harvest the flower buds (scapes) when they curl in June. They are mild in flavor and great in stir fries.

Harvest the bulbs in July when the lower leaves turn brown. Then get ready for some of the most delicious meals you have ever eaten!

Written by , Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: Felixdanbruell.

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