How to prepare the soil for growing garlic?

 Proper soil preparation is very important to grow large, delicious-tasting garlic bulbs. First, you need to know what kind of soil you have and performing a soil test is perfect for that. This can help you determine if you have the best soil for garlic, and if not, how to improve it.

If your floor isn't perfect, don't worry. Garlic is a very forgiving plant that can do well even in marginal soil. Fertilizing with organic fertilizers like manure and alfalfa and using cover crops to boost fertility can help poor soils, so don't let that stop you from growing garlic.

How to prepare the soil for growing garlic?

Ground to ground

Garlic grows best in loose, well-drained soil. Sandy loam is the ideal soil type for growing garlic, but many small farmers do well with clay soils . However, if you have too much clay, you may face several problems:

Wet feet: 

Garlic does not grow well in standing water. It will tend to rot if its feet are wet for too long. To solve this problem, try growing it in raised beds and/or increase the sand and organic matter in the soil.

"Dirty" bulbs and more work to harvest:

 the clay will tend to cling to the papery garlic outer skins. This will be difficult to remove and may stain the outer packaging. It can also make harvesting garlic more difficult, especially if the soil is dry and the clay has hardened.

The Best Soil For Garlic: 

Start With The Nutrients

Garlic is more like potatoes than onions in terms of pH response and nutritional balance. Here is a general idea of ​​the basic soil composition for optimal growth:

pH: Between 6.0 and 7.5 is the ideal pH for growing garlic.


Garlic needs more nitrogen than most growers realize, mainly during its initial growth phase as it emerges and spreads its leaves. Adding organic fertilizers, such as cow and poultry, is a great way to add nitrogen.


 Phosphorus is necessary for optimal root development.


 A sufficient amount of potassium is essential for leaf growth and the formation of healthy bulbs.


 Sulfur compounds are directly linked to the benefits and unique flavors of garlic. To add sulphur, sprinkle gypsum on your flowerbeds in the spring, after the plants have emerged and started to leaf.

Modification with manure

When adding manure, be careful. You don't want to add manure too close to harvest time . Organic certification generally requires applying it no earlier than 120 days before harvest. Antibiotics, drugs and GMO residues from animal feed take time to break down in manure.

cow manure

Three weeks before planting, you can spray your fields with liquid cow manure). Spray the field we are going to plant as well as the field that will be planted the following year. Within three weeks, the smell has dissipated enough that planting isn't an obnoxious chore, and it also lets the nitrogen settle so it won't shock the cloves once planted.

Be sure to go back under the liquid manure after spraying so the nutrients don't evaporate. We use a disc on our Kubota to mix the manure with the soil.

Poultry manure

Poultry manure, like chicken manure , is the most concentrated nitrogen source of any manure. Buying or using organic manure is best if you can manage it because there are so many chemicals and GMOs used in feed these days. Poultry manure does not evaporate like cow manure, so it does not need to be turned as quickly as cow manure, but it is still important to mix it into the soil before planting... especially since the nitrogen is so concentrated.

horse manure

Composted horse manure can also be a good source of nitrogen. Make sure you know what medications, if any, the horses have been given, as anything given to them will usually be thrown into their manure and go straight into your precious soil.

Modification with alfalfa

Another technique that can be helpful is to amend your soil with alfalfa. Alfalfa pellets are economical, easy to apply and biologically appropriate.

Plow the soil

Garlic needs space to spread its legs, so loosen your soil before planting.

Here are some ways to minimize tillage:

The spader:

 This is a tractor-mounted, PTO-driven implement (but you can also get a walk-behind unit ) widely used in Europe, but rarely seen in the United States. It works by digging deep with six-inch-wide shovels, then turning the soil over. It breaks up compaction up to two feet deep but leaves your soil's delicate microbiology intact.

Compost tea:

 Healthy soil is simply teeming with microorganisms — bacteria, fungi, yeasts and more — that create a living, complex web. Traditional cultivation and fertilization damage this web. Compost tea helps restore it.

Cover crops: 

Also known as “green manures,” cover crops can add nutrients to your soil and help loosen the soil with their powerful root system. Find out which cover crops are ideal for loosening the soil.


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