The following information will help you learn how to grow garlic in Ontario, including varieties, planting dates, planting depth, techniques, and spacing between plants.

In Ontario, garlic, a cool-season crop, is grown in the fall and harvested the following summer. This fact sheet provides information on types of garlic grown in Ontario, garlic production from planting to the storage, and pest and weed control.



Garlic (Allium sativum) belongs to the Alliaceae family and is the same family of onions, shallots, and shallots. The majority of the garlic grown in Ontario is sold in fresh markets as a whole, fresh or green garlic or flower bulbs. Proce

ssed products such as garlic or minced garlic are also sold but to a lesser extent.


There are hundreds of garlic varieties available around the world, but only some can be grown well in Ontario. Among these varieties, all can be grouped into two types called Hardneck and Softneck.

Hard-necked varieties stick together in late spring or early summer, producing a flower stalk called a stalk. At the end of the stem is a capsule that contains follicles (small aerial lobes) instead of an actual flower.

You must remove these stems to enlarge the size of your follicles when harvesting.

The soft-necked varieties do not produce a stem, although they do occasionally produce bulbs in plant stock, especially in colder climates.

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The main rigid-necked family groups that have grown in Ontario include purple marble bands, rocampolis, porcelain, and purple bands, all of which do well in Ontario’s climate and can produce large, healthy bulbs.

The two groups of the Softneck family that grew in Ontario include Silverskin and Artichoke, although the Artichoke family tend to do better because they are more suited to northern climates.

When choosing garlic varieties to plant, you want to find cold garlic that is hardy, develops large bulbs, and has great flavour.

Most Canadian garlic meets these criteria, however, the three most common varieties we grow on our farm are Music, Spanish Roja, and Persian Star. They always do well and often outperform the lesser-known varieties.


In Ontario, garlic is usually grown in the fall so that the garlic cloves are exposed to the cold temperatures (splitting) that many types of garlic require.

Garlic can be planted in the spring, however, plants often form single bulbs (called rotations) and or grow natural bulbs much smaller than pods grown in the fall (see our article Growing Garlic in Spring for more information).

The best time to plant garlic in the fall mainly depends on where you live in Ontario. Your goal is to plant early enough that the cloves develop a large root system, while sow late enough that the garlic clove does not sprout and shows green growth above ground.

This means the planting date can be from the last week of September to the end of November depending on where you live and how long you want your cloves to settle before winter.

In cooler regions of Zone 3 or 4, such as northwestern Ontario, where winter comes early, garlic can be planted as early as September 21 or until the end of October.

In warmer regions like southern Ontario, planting can range from early October to the last week of November.

If you plant garlic in early fall, you may sometimes end up with a small amount of green growth above the soil line before winter. These first green leaves may die if exposed to very cold temperatures, however, cloves will sprout new leaves in the spring.


Garlic is a perennial plant that requires a cool period to start growing. Garlic is an annual Ontario winter – plant in the fall and harvests the following summer.

Although autumn planting is recommended, it is possible to sow in the spring. Place the planting material in a cool room before planting to allow the bulbs to grow properly.

It is essential not to plant garlic too early or too late in the fall. The depth of planting is also important. If sown too soon or not deep enough, shoots may appear above the soil surface and be vulnerable to winter damage. If it is planted too late, there is a risk that the cloves will not develop proper root systems and the winters will be very hardy.

It is also important to plant the cloves with the pointed side up. Although cloves are grown upside down thrive, they often have crooked shoots and deformed bulbs.

A robust, well-established winter plant will quickly develop bud growth in spring as the soil and air warm up. With proper moisture and nutrition, the plant will grow tall before the bulb.

Store healthy seeds in whole bulbs until shortly before planting, as the cloves separated from the parent bulb deteriorate more quickly than whole bulbs. Dry bulbs break down more easily into wet-bulb cloves.

Garlic can be crushed by hand or with mechanical devices. However, the risk of physical damage to cloves is greater when mechanically cracked. Some mechanical planting equipment requires cloves to be classified into sizes or weight ranges to improve planting efficiency.

The amount of planting material required will vary from 700 to 1000 kg/ha, depending on the weight of the cloves planted and the distances used. Space the plants 7 to 12 cm apart in a row.

Cloves can be grown from the stems of small bulbs (such as artichokes) at a distance of 7 cm, while large bulbous stems (such as porcelain) may require up to 12 cm between plants.

Row spacing depends on the method of planting and the equipment available for growing. One or more rows of plants are commonly used with at least 20 cm spacing between rows.

growing onions. The lobes, or air lobes, are located in a capsule above the stem. Depending on the type, the capsules may contain from four to a few hundred follicles

The main advantage of planting bulbs is that it allows farmers to increase their planting material very quickly and produce seeds free from soil-borne diseases.

The downside is that it can take several years of consecutive planting to obtain good-sized bulbs from your initial onion planting stock.

As with garlic, the onion capsules must be opened and individual bulbs removed for planting immediately before planting. Onion planting density is not well established, mainly due to differences in size between varieties.

Growing the bulbs closer together allows easier management, but make sure you have enough room for the bulb to grow.

Farmers in other parts of Canada have found that regular irrigation is essential for growing bulbs due to the shallow root system.


Garlic can be grown successfully in a variety of soil types and is grown in most cultivated areas in Ontario.

Soils with higher organic content are preferred, due to their increased ability to retain moisture and nutrients. Soils with adequate organic matter are also less prone to peeling and compacting.

Too thick soil impedes bulb expansion, especially if allowed to dry out, resulting in rough and irregular shaped bulbs. Intensive soil management practices are essential on light sandy soils due to their low moisture-holding capacity.

Garlic grows well in fertile soil, however, fertilizer recommendations for garlic in Ontario have not been fully defined.

Check the levels of phosphorous and potassium in the soil with a soil test. Apply all required phosphorous or potassium followed by a shallow insert into the soil before the fall planting.

The amount of nitrogen required will vary depending on the type of soil, the previous crop, the amount of organic matter present, and the climatic conditions during the growing season.

Depending on the type of soil and the content of organic matter, it is generally accepted that garlic requires between 56 and 110 kg N / ha. With a small amount applied in the fall, apply half of the nitrogen once the garlic starts growing in early spring and the remainder divide into two or three applications every 3 weeks.

Complete nitrogen application within 4-6 weeks of harvest.

Do not plant garlic in soils subject to excessive frost. Choose fields with good snow to improve plant survival. Choose fields that offer adequate protection from the wind, especially when growing garlic in lighter soil.

In eastern Ontario, many farmers cover mulch in the winter. Mulching helps cool down soil temperatures and protects roots and shoots from temperature fluctuations.

Although many different mulches are available commercially, it is important to be careful not to mulch materials that could be contaminated with garlic pests, such as bulb and stem nematodes, bulb mites, diseases or weed seeds.

The most common mulch used is straw, which is placed 10 to 15 cm deep directly on the rows of planted garlic.

In the spring, some growers completely remove the mulch once the threat of frost has passed, while others leave it throughout the season to help preserve moisture and control weeds.


Garlic is sensitive to water stress throughout the growing season. Periods of dry soil, especially during swelling, will lead to lower yields.

For most soils, about one inch of water is needed per week during the growing season. However, on sandy soils, 5.0 cm or more of water may be required in hot and dry weather.

The preferred time for watering is from morning to mid-afternoon, allowing ample time to dry the plant’s leaves before dark.

Stop watering when the garlic is ripe and ready to harvest. This will increase harvesting ease, reduce potential spoilage, and colour the outer leaves of the bulb casing.


It is highly recommended that you plant garlic in straight rows or in a uniform arrangement. Garlic requires a lot of weeding, and the straight rows make this task much easier. Using a thread or long stick with the marking or cutting machine to indicate the ideal spacing greatly helps.

When possible, hand-planted garlic cloves should be pushed into the ground with tips up and flat bottoms facing down. This allows the first leaves to easily emerge from the ground in the spring and ensures that the garlic necks do not twist.

This is more important with hard-necked varieties of garlic, as the upturned cloves of garlic often form smaller, oddly-shaped bulbs.

Another option that large garlic growers and some gardeners use is planting garlic cloves on their sides, which makes the process easier and saves time.

A long groove is dug along the entire length of the planting area, cloves are placed at the bottom, the groove is covered with earth, and cloves are buried.

When using this method, most garlic plants develop into naturally shaped follicles, however, some of them may be slightly deformed at times.

Soft-necked lobes tend to be less affected by lateral implants and tend to straighten, allowing the bulb to form naturally.


Garlic cloves can be grown 2.5 to 7.5 cm deep. Some growers plant more than 3 inches deep, but it only works well in loose, loose soil that drains well.

In general, any depth greater than 3 inches is excessive and will cause the garlic cloves to use up valuable energy as they come off the ground, limiting the size of the harvested follicles due to the strength of the soil that pushes the bulbs during growth.


The depth you choose to plant cloves will depend on two factors. First, there’s the type of soil you have and the type of drainage you have.

In poorly draining soils such as clay, or in areas that usually receive large amounts of rain, planting greater than 1 or 2 inches deep can cause garlic to rot during cold temperatures or during periods of humidity.

On sandy or well-drained soils, plantings of less than 2-3 inches can lead to drought stress during dry periods.

The second factor to consider is the climate in your area. The deeper a garlic clove is planted, the more winter protection it is. In warmer parts of Ontario, where winter conditions are mild, depth is not a big problem. In very cold areas, plant deep


Cloves can be planted 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) in a row and 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) in between rows, with wider spacing, sometimes used to accommodate equipment.

To what extent or to what extent you decide to grow garlic will depend on how you plan to weed around the plants, your limited space, the type of garlic grown, your size and your quality goals.


For growers who use equipment like tillage or tractors for tasks like weeding, the garlic spacing should allow the equipment to move across the field or garden. Sufficient space must be left to prevent the tillage teeth or tractor wheels from hitting

Delicate garlic plants or roots even when semi-ripe. What appears to be a lot of space when planting cloves in the fall often appears very soon once the garlic grows in summer, so using wider spaces is a good idea.


If you have a small area to plant, good soil, and want the most garlic possible, planting garlic very close distances is a good option.

Some of the finest types of garlic in Ontario are grown by gardeners or homeowners who use very tight spaces.

The key to their success is providing the plants with adequate moisture, constant weed control, and high soil fertility.

If you have large acreage or marginal soil conditions, wider spacing is usually the best option. This will reduce competition between your garlic plants for water, light, and nutrients and make the weeding job a lot easier.


If you are growing a variety of garlic that tends to produce large bulbs and / or trying to grow as much garlic as possible, giving plenty of room for each plant is the best practice.

Generally, individual garlic plants do not need very much space, however, using the plant spacing on the wider side will definitely improve your chances of growing large garlic. Healthy and standardized.


The bulbs continue to grow in late spring and summer until the leaves of the plant begin to dry and turn light brown from the tips to the base of the leaves. Begin harvesting after 30% to 50% of the leaves have died.

Garlic bulbs harvested too early may be immature and tend to wilt upon drying, while bulbs harvested late may be intermittently coated, partially spoiled, and/or exposed cloves.

Young garlic plantations are often harvested by hand with a fork to loosen the soil and make it easier to raise. Large farms are usually harvested mechanically with a tractor-drawn blade that loosens the soil under the bulbs.

A mechanical system can be used to lift lamps, remove surfaces, and separate dirt and litter.

One time garlic treatment. Dehydration is the process of drying the bulb to help increase shelf life by reducing microbial and fungal infections and water loss.

Leave the chopped garlic in the field to dry for a few days or take it out immediately from the field and dry it in storage.


To treat field garlic, place the plants in crisp, covered, dug boxes and let them air dry naturally. To dry during storage, tie 10-15 plants into a bundle and hang them to dry in a well-ventilated location or use forced air to dry the bulbs.

Once the garlic hardens, trim or remove the heads and roots of the garlic and place the bulbs in slotted tubs, wire stands, or open trays in a well-ventilated building.

Similar to bulbs, bulbs must be dried prior to storage. Harvest the stems with the onion capsule intact before harvesting the onion.

Once harvested, group the stems, tie, and hang them to dry for a few weeks. Once dry, remove the onion capsules and store in a dry place until ready to plant.


Storage conditions depend on end-use. Garlic intended for consumption (table stock) can be stored differently than garlic intended for cultivation. Garlic for table stock is best stored at 0 ° C to 4 ° C with 60% -70% relative humidity.

Avoid storing in high humidity, as this creates an excellent environment for Penicillium rot and root growth. Table stock stored at room temperature can dry more quickly.

Store garlic for planting at between 10 ° C and room temperature, with a relative humidity of 60% to 70%.

At room temperature, hard neck varieties can be stored for up to 4 months; Soft-necked varieties reach 8 months.

Under controlled temperature and humidity conditions, the life span can be increased to 6-7 months for Rocamboles, 8-10 months for porcelain and over 12 months for soft neck types



There are a number of garlic pests in Ontario, including Fusarium basal plaque rot, Penicillium rot, leek moth, stem and bulb nematodes, and viruses.


Fusarium basal plate rot attacks the area of ​​the base plate of the bulb and roots (Fig.6). The soil pathogen invades the roots, resulting in empty, beige-colored, non-functional roots, while the basal plaque area may develop into a pinkish brown fungal growth.

Weather symptoms include yellowing of leaf tips and spring death. Warm soil temperatures and higher soil moisture promote disease progression.

Since the organism lives as dormant spores in the soil or on plant debris, alternate with unblemished crops.


Penicillium mould is the main cause of garlic decomposition in storage. The disease appears as bluish-green growth lumps that usually first appear at the base of the bulb.

The main source of pollination is the diseased bulbs used to grow the material. When diseased follicles crack, healthy lobes can be contaminated with airborne germs. Infected cloves are particularly susceptible to this disease.

Infected cloves are often invaded by secondary decomposing organisms such as bacteria and other fungi, to mask the original pathogens. Clove rot and shrinkage of plant stands are often the results of growing infected cloves.

Warm temperatures (22 ° C – 25 ° C) are ideal for spore germination and disease development. Planting garlic early in late summer when soil temperatures are high can increase the severity of clove rot. Watering can be beneficial, as high soil humidity appears to prevent cloves from rot.


The leek moth is an invasive exotic species of European origin that is harmful to garlic, leeks, and onions. Adult butterflies lay their eggs on garlic leaves, and once they hatch, the larvae tunnel through the leaves, damaging them and leaving the plants vulnerable to bacterial or fungal diseases (Fig.7).

There are three generations in each season: the first in June, the second in July, and the third at the end of August.

Information from Europe indicates that the insect spends the winter as an adult butterfly in various protected areas and begins to appear when temperatures reach 9.5 ° C.


The bulb and stem nematode are a microscopic parasitic nematode that enters garlic through the roots or wounds in the follicles.

Early in the season, young plants infected with nematodes are often stunted, with yellowing and swelling of young leaves.

Subsequent infection can cause new growth of sprain, bulb softening and dehydration, and loss of roots (Figures 8 and 9).

Stem and bulb nematodes become active in spring, and symptoms of spoilage usually show from mid-July until harvest. The key to managing this pest is prevention.

This means planting nematode-free seeds in nematode-free soil. Test the soil before planting, use clean seeds, and follow a 3-year cycle with non-host crops.

Once in the soil, stem and bulb nematodes can spread through irrigation water, seeds, contaminated equipment, humans and animals.

White rot is a fungal disease that is transmitted through the soil and can survive as hardening in infected fields for decades.

This is a serious concern, especially during cold and humid growing seasons. Symptoms of white rot in garlic include yellowing of old leaves, wilting and twisting, the presence of watery follicles, and the presence of thin white fungi.


White rot is a fungal disease that is transmitted through the soil and can survive as hardening in infected fields for decades.

This is a serious concern, especially during cold and humid growing seasons. Symptoms of white garlic rot include yellowing of old leaves, wilting and turning over, water bulbs, the presence of a thin white fungus and black hardening of the size of a pinhead.

As well as rotten roots. Since sclerotia and mycelium overwinter in the soil and plant debris, thorough cleaning of field equipment and proper removal of expulsion garlic is important to prevent the spread of white rot in unorganized fields. Polluted.


Almost all sources of garlic contain viruses, although most of them are dormant. Latent garlic viruses may not emerge or reduce yields until the garlic plant is pressed or growth is stunted.

The most common symptom of a viral infection changes in leaf color. These include mosaics, stains, streaks, and spots. Leaf deformation can also occur.


Garlic is a weak competitor against strong weeds. Weed control is essential and can be done by planting, hand hoeing, mulching, or the application of herbicides.

Avoid deep planting near plants, as root damage and loss of yield, can occur later.

For the most recent information on weed control, OMAFRA Publication 75, Guide to Weed Control.



In Ontario, when should I grow garlic?

Garlic is a perennial plant that needs a time of cold to start growing. Garlic is grown in Ontario as a winter annual, meaning it is planted in the autumn and harvested the following summer. Although fall planting is preferred, spring planting is also possible.

To ensure appropriate bulb development, store planting stock in the refrigerator before planting.

Garlic should not be planted either early or too late in the autumn. Depth of planting is also crucial.

If you plant too early or too shallowly, shoots may sprout above the soil surface and be susceptible to winter harm.

If cloves are planted too late, they may not establish appropriate root systems and will not survive the winter.

It’s also critical to plant cloves with the pointed side up. Although cloves planted backwards will grow, they will usually have a crooked stalk and malformed bulbs.

As soil and air temperatures rise in the spring, a vigorous, well-established overwintering plant will swiftly generate shoot growth. Before bulbing, a huge plant will grow if given enough moisture and nutrition.

Because cloves split from the parent bulb decay more quickly than whole bulbs, store good seed stock as whole bulbs until just before planting.

It’s easier to break apart dry bulbs into cloves than it is to break apart damp bulbs. Hand or mechanical equipment can be used to break garlic.

When cloves are mechanically broken, however, there is a larger risk of physical harm.

For enhanced planting efficiency, certain mechanical planting equipment demands that cloves be classified into sizes or weight categories.

Depending on the weight of each cloves planted and the spacing employed, the number of planting material required will range from 700 to 1,000 kg/ha. Plants should be spaced 7-12 cm apart in a row.

Small-bulbed strains (such as Artichoke) can be planted as close as 7 cm apart, whilst large-bulbed strains (such as Porcelain) require as much as 12 cm between plants.

The spacing between rows will be determined by the planting method and the cultivation equipment available. Plants are generally planted in single or multiple rows, with at least 20 cm between rows.

Some Ontario growers have been experimenting with bulbil planting in recent years. Bulbils, also known as aerial cloves, are housed in a capsule at the top of the scape.

Capsules can contain anything from four to a few hundred bulbils, depending on the variety (Figures 2 and 3).


In Ontario, how deep do you plant garlic?

Garlic cloves should be planted 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) deep. Some gardeners go deeper than 3 inches in their plantings, but this only works in very loose, fluffy soils that drain easily.

Any depth greater than 3 inches forces the cloves to expend valuable energy while emerging from the earth, restricting the size of the harvested bulbs due to the force of the dirt pressing down on the bulbs as they expand.

Two factors will influence how deep you plant your cloves. The first consideration is the type of soil and how effectively it drains.

Planting garlic deeper than 1 or 2 inches in poorly draining soils, such as clay, or in areas that receive a lot of rain might cause the garlic to rot in cool temperatures or during wet seasons.

Planting less than 2 or 3 inches in sandy or well-drained soil can cause drought stress during dry months.

The climate of your region is the second element to consider. A garlic clove’s winter protection increases the deeper it is planted.

In the milder parts of Ontario, where winters are mild, depth isn’t a major worry.

Planting on the deeper side in particularly cold places can help protect the cloves over the winter.


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