When to Plant Garlic in Rhode Island: Expert Tips

Garlic is a well-loved ingredient in any kitchen, and if you’re an avid gardener, you might be wondering when the best time is to plant garlic in Rhode Island. Garlic is a relatively low-maintenance plant that can be planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. 

Why Plant Garlic?

When to Plant Garlic in Rhode Island

Benefits of Growing Your Own Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and as a flavorful ingredient in cooking. Growing your own garlic can be a fun and rewarding experience, and there are many benefits to doing so. 

When you grow your own garlic, you know exactly where it comes from and how it was grown. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your garlic is free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. 

Freshly grown garlic has a much stronger flavor than store-bought garlic, which can be bland and tasteless. 

Growing your own garlic can be a great way to save money on groceries, especially if you use a lot of garlic in your cooking.

Types of Garlic Varieties

There are many different varieties of garlic, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. Some of the most popular varieties include White garlic, Purple Stripe garlic, Asiatic garlic, and Rocambole garlic. 

Before you start planting garlic, it’s a good idea to research the different varieties and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Hardneck vs. Softneck Garlic

Garlic can be divided into two main categories: hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic has a woody stem and a single layer of cloves around the bulb, while softneck garlic has a soft stem and multiple layers of cloves around the bulb. 

Hardneck garlic is generally easier to peel and has a stronger flavor than softneck garlic, while softneck garlic has a longer shelf life and is better suited to braiding and hanging.

When is the Best Time to Plant Garlic in Rhode Island?

Factors to Consider When Planting Garlic

There are several factors to consider when planting garlic, including the climate, the type of garlic, and the gardener’s experience level. Garlic needs to be planted in an area that receives full sun, and the soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. 

Garlic should be planted in the fall, before the ground freezes, to allow the cloves to establish roots before the winter. 

The garlic should be planted in rows or clusters, with each individual clove planted about 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep.

The Optimal Time to Plant Garlic in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the optimal time to plant garlic is between mid-October and early November. This timing allows the cloves to establish roots before the ground freezes and ensures that the garlic will have the best chance of survival over the winter. 

If you miss this window and don’t plant your garlic until the spring, you may still get a crop, but the bulbs will be smaller and less flavorful.

Is it Too Late or Early to Plant Garlic?

If you missed the fall planting window, you can still plant garlic in early spring, but the bulbs will be smaller and less flavorful. 

If you plant garlic too early in the fall, before the soil has cooled off, the cloves may sprout prematurely and produce weak bulbs. For these reasons, it’s important to plant your garlic at the right time.

How to Plant Garlic in Rhode Island?

The Clove Planting Method

Garlic is planted using the clove planting method, which involves separating the garlic bulb into individual cloves and planting them individually. 

To plant garlic, break the bulb apart into individual cloves, making sure to leave the papery skin intact. Choose the largest and healthiest cloves for planting and discard any that are damaged or diseased.

Preparing the Soil for Planting Garlic

Before planting garlic, it’s important to prepare the soil properly. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter, such as compost or manure. 

Garlic prefers a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0, so it may be necessary to add lime or sulfur to adjust the soil pH. 

The soil should be tilled or dug to a depth of at least 6 inches to ensure that the cloves can establish roots.

Planting Garlic in Rows or Clusters

Garlic can be planted in rows or clusters, depending on your preference. When planting garlic in rows, space the cloves about 6 inches apart and plant them 2 inches deep. 

When planting garlic in clusters, plant the individual cloves about 4 inches apart in all directions. Either way, make sure to cover the cloves with soil and water the area well.

How to Take Care of Garlic Plants?

Mulching Garlic Plants

After planting garlic, it’s important to mulch the area to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Good mulching materials include straw, leaves, or grass clippings. 

Apply a layer of mulch around 2 inches deep, being careful not to cover the garlic too much. Mulching can also help to regulate the soil temperature and protect the cloves from extreme cold or heat.

Watering Garlic Plants

Garlic plants need to be watered regularly to ensure healthy growth. Water the garlic deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. 

Garlic prefers to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged, so make sure not to overwater.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

Garlic is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it can still be susceptible to certain problems. Some of the most common pests that affect garlic include aphids, thrips, and nematodes, while common diseases include white rot, basal rot, and rust. 

To prevent these problems, make sure to plant your garlic in well-draining soil, practice crop rotation, and keep the area free from weeds and debris.

When to Harvest Garlic in Rhode Island?

Signs That Garlic is Ready to be Harvested

Garlic is ready to be harvested when the plant begins to yellow and dry out. The best way to tell when the garlic is ready is to inspect the bulbs for signs of maturity. 

When the garlic is ready to be harvested, the outer skin of the bulb will have dried and become papery, and the foliage will have turned brown and begun to fall over.

How to Properly Harvest Garlic

To harvest garlic, use a garden fork to gently loosen the soil around the bulbs. Be careful not to damage the bulbs in the process. 

Once the bulbs have been loosened, gently pull them out of the ground, taking care not to break the stems or remove the papery outer layer. 

Brush off any excess dirt and allow the garlic to dry in a well-ventilated area for several weeks.

Storing Garlic After Harvest

After harvesting garlic, it’s important to store it properly to ensure that it stays fresh and flavorful. The garlic should be dried for several weeks in a well-ventilated area before being stored. 

Once dried, store the garlic in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or root cellar. Garlic can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, although this can affect the flavor and texture of the cloves.


Planting garlic in Rhode Island is a fun and rewarding experience that can yield fresh, flavorful garlic that is free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. 

By choosing the right type of garlic, planting it at the right time, and taking proper care of the plants, you can grow your own garlic with ease. Whether you’re a seasoned grower or a novice gardener, these tips for growing garlic in Rhode Island are sure to help you get the most out of your crop.

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