A while ago, I received a new variety of garlic to try in my garden. It was a hardneck garlic that I decided to keep in my fridge until it was time to plant. Much to my surprise, it started to sprout, so I wasn’t sure what to do. Can you even plant sprouted garlic?
The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, it’s like jumpstarting the garlic growing season altogether.
Planting sprouted garlic is a simple process, as you’ll soon see: each clove will grow into a whole new bulb, and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh garlic in your cooking. Keep reading to find out how to use your sprouted garlic in your garden so it doesn’t go to waste.
Why Plant Sprouted Garlic?
If you’ve ever found store-bought sprouted garlic in your kitchen or got it from a friend as I did, you might be wondering if it’s still good to use. The answer is yes! Not only is it okay to eat, but it’s also a great opportunity to plant the cloves and grow your own garlic. Here are a few reasons why you should consider planting it:
It’s more nutritional
Garlic is packed with nutrients and has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. According to Healthline, garlic is high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. It also has a substance called allicilin which acts as an antioxidant and works against inflammation in your body. Garlic is basically nature’s antibiotic.
By growing your own garlic you can ensure that it’s clean of pesticides and harmful chemicals. And since it only takes seconds to get to your table, you’ll eat it at its nutritional peak.
It saves you money
Growing your own garlic is easy and helps you stay on a budget. One clove of garlic can yield up to eight cloves in just a few months. This means that a single bulb of garlic can produce dozens of cloves, which can be used in cooking or planted to grow even more garlic.
By growing your own garlic, you can save money on groceries since it stores really well over the winter. Plus, those sprouted cloves will go to waste if you don’t do anything about it.
When to plant sprouted garlic?
Garlic cloves usually sprout around the time they need to be planted anyway, but the sprouting can be accelerated by keeping them in the freezer or in the back of your fridge, which mimics the winter frost.
The best time to plant sprouted garlic is identical to regular garlic, but it also depends very much on what month you’re already in. Is it fall? Plant your sprouted garlic straight away. Is it winter and do you have snow on the ground? It’s best to wait for spring.
As a general rule, garlic should be planted in the fall, about 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes.
In regions with harsher winters, it’s important to plant garlic early enough in the fall to allow it to establish roots before the ground freezes. This is typically around mid- to late-October, depending on the specific climate and zone. In these areas, it’s also important to provide adequate protection for the garlic during the winter months.
One way to protect fall-planted garlic during the winter is to mulch heavily with straw or leaves. This will help to insulate the soil and protect the garlic from extremely cold temperatures.
Garlic plants are also sensitive to water pooling around their roots, so make sure your soil is well drained, or add some organic matter or builders sand to your soil to help it drain better.
In warmer regions, garlic can be planted in late winter or early spring, as long as the soil is workable and not frozen. This can be as soon as late February for most temperate regions if there’s no snow on the ground.
Some gardeners claim that planting garlic in spring leads to smaller bulbs, but that’s not true for all varieties. I’ve had great experience sowing garlic in late February to early March and harvesting it in July!
In my experience, garlic sprouts closer to spring, since the cloves are still fresh in fall, so, whether or not it’s ideal, spring is the most realistic time to get your sprouted garlic in the ground.
How to Plant Sprouted Garlic
So now that you have your sprouted cloves, don’t throw them away! You can plant them and grow your own garlic. Follow these steps to plant sprouted garlic:
Preparing the Sprouted Cloves
To prepare sprouted garlic for planting, start by peeling off the papery part of the outside of the bulb. Be careful not to peel the garlic completely, just enough to separate the cloves. In fact, we have a whole article on peeling garlic cloves and why it’s not a good idea for planting.
Each clove will form a whole new garlic bulb within a few months, so they’ll need to be planted individually. Take great care when handling your sprouted garlic cloves as the delicate sprouts can break and the peel can come off much easier than with regular garlic cloves.
Preparing the Soil
Choose an area in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil. Garlic prefers loose, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, work in some compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil’s fertility.
Planting the Garlic
Plant the garlic cloves about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Rather than making a row, I like to mark my planting holes with a sharp dibber, but if your soil is loose and fluffy, go ahead and use rows.
Make sure the sprouted end of the clove is facing up and the flat end is facing down. Cover the cloves with soil, ensuring that the green sprouts sit outside the soil’s surface, and water well.
Watering and Maintenance
Water the garlic regularly, making sure the soil stays moist but not waterlogged. Once the garlic starts to grow, you can mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
In the spring, cut off the scapes (the curly flower stalks) to encourage the bulbs to grow larger.
Harvest the garlic when the leaves start to yellow and fall over, which is usually around mid July to August.
Are sprouted garlic cloves safe to eat?
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t let anything from the garden go to waste, you can use the remainder of your sprouted garlic cloves in your kitchen. They’re delicious and absolutely safe to eat.
Sprouted garlic cloves are slightly milder in flavor than regular garlic cloves. This is because the sprouting process causes the garlic to lose some of its pungency.
In addition to having a slightly different flavor, sprouted garlic cloves may also have a different texture than regular garlic cloves. The green shoots that develop from the top of the clove can be tough and fibrous, so you may want to remove them before using garlic in your cooking.
Despite these differences, sprouted garlic cloves are still perfectly safe to eat and can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic. In fact, some people prefer to use garlic that’s already sprouted because they are believed to have more health benefits than regular garlic cloves. Sprouted garlic is said to have higher levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds than non-sprouted garlic.
Now you know that you can plant sprouted garlic and grow new bulbs. Planting sprouted garlic is a great way to avoid wasting garlic that has started to grow in your pantry. You don’t need to throw it away, but instead, you can plant it in your garden and enjoy fresh garlic later.