It’s November and for some people here in Israel that means planting winter vegetables.

Meanwhile. for a lot of other people reading this blog, such as yourself, that means wishing you could plant winter vegetaibles, however you don’t currently have time/money/space/soil/seeds/know-how or all of the above.


So let me share the good news. If you are reading this, you are about to plant some garlic!

G-d willing, you are going to watch them sprout and grow lushly all through the winter until the big moment arrives in late spring, when you will pluck your fully formed garlic heads out of the soil and dance around for joy!

If it’s coming as a suprise that you are about to plant garlic, let me explain five reasons why you are about to undertake this fateful act:

1. Garlic is so easy to grow

In my winter garden, the garlic is always king. Even when other vegies look launguid and depressed in my less-than-ideal city farm setting, garlic sprouts so quickly and grows so lushly with almost no help from me.

10 days ago this was a dry garlic clove sitting in my kitchen. Now it’s a 15cm-tall garlic plant thriving in my backyard.

2. Garlic requires very little space

I am growing 50+ heads under 0.5 square meters. If you have no space or yard, you can “just” grow 6 garlics in a pot or even a bag,

3. Garlic doesn’t get infested

Unlike other popular winter vegies, like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflour and cabbage.

4. You eat lots of garlic and so does your family

Unlike the other popular winter vegies, like radish, kolrabi, beets, and turnips.

5. You don’t need to buy seeds since you already own some

Garlic plants are grown from garlic. I assume you have garlic in the kitchen right now.

You do, right?

So let’s do this!

After 5 days in the ground, I decided to move this garlic plant. Do you see how rapidly its root system has developed? Also, the fact that I can move it without killing it is very unusual in a vegetable plant. Garlics are so tough, they thrive even with punishment!

5 Steps to Plant your Homegrown Crop of Garlic

  1. Take a head of garlic and divide it into cloves, leaving the papery white skin intact
  2. Preprare some soil. If you don’t already have good vegetable bed with decent, workable soil, it’s better to use a bucket or pot or even a big bag. You can fill it with a new bag of good potting soil or reuse old soil, broken up and ideally enriched with organic fertilizer. Note: this might be the point where you, like most people, get stuck, because you want to use the “right” soil, which you might not currently have lying around. However, just do it. Even poor soil can be enriched later. Meanwhile, your job is just to fill a receptacle with whatever loose soil is available.
  3. Plant the garlic cloves just below the soil surface with the pointy side up, Space them about 15cm apart.
  4. Position your garlic plantation in the sunniest spot available.
  5. Water well, and keep watering every day. Unless it’s raining. In which case, let Hashem take care of the watering.

Great. So your garlic is in the ground. Mazal tov!

Like an industrious good urban farmer, you can go put your feet up and relax after a hard day working the land. Your garlic plants should sprout within the week. That’s an exciting moment.

You can grow garlic in a pot or even a bag filled with soil. No yard required! In this pic, you can see how I filled an old rice sack with soil and planted in it. (In this case, I planted carrot seeds in the bag but I recommend you start with garlic, because carrots can be a pain.)

Some tips for ongoing care of your crop.

  1. Every month or so, enrich the soil with any organic fertilizer you can get, eg. compost, humus, liquid organic fertilizer, or, if you’re the type, the droppings of your neighbor’s pet bunny.
  2. Your garlics will grow leaves all winter. They taste delish. When the weather starts to warm up in the spring, the bulbs begin to swell. Loosen the sool around them a bit then.
  3. In late spring, the lush green tops will start to turn brown and die back. That’s a sign they’re nearing ripeness. They will be ready for picking some time before Shavuos.

Update Six Months later:

The garlic plants grew lushly all winter and then in mid spring, they started to whither – a good sign that they were ready for picking!

BH We got an excellent harvest of over 20 heads!

The same garlic after picking in late April

Are you Growing Garlic with Us?

If you are planting garlic after reading this, please let me know. Drop a comment below, message me or even share a pic of your garlic plantation here or on the Bloomah’s City Farm Facebook page.

Let’s make a gallery of urban garlic growers here in Israel.

Together we will grow garlic! And I happen to think that’s a beautiful, rewarding thing to do!

11 Responses

  1. I was just praying for help as an immigrant in Israel with homesteading and right after I found this article about growing garlic. My husband and I were also recently talking about wanting to grow garlic to avoid dangerous additives.

  2. IY”H I will do this with my grandchildren. Sounds like the growing starts quickly enough to satisfy them, and they’ll get to eat the results!

    I’m so happy to have found this site (HT my husband!). This is exactly what I need – clear instructions for planting in pots. Now that shmitta is over, I can’t wait to get pack to planting.

    I have a question – I have heard different things about what bracha you make on vegetables that are planted on a mirpeset in a pot. Do you know the halachot? I am 2 flights up. If you suspend a bag from a hook on a mirpeset, does it have the same rules as in a pot?

    1. Good luck with your garlic growing!
      I will try answer your question from my layman knowledge but I am not an halachic authority by any means.
      I have never heard that one makes any bracha other than adama on a vegetable, even for greens grown hydroponically on the roofs of large buildings, where there is no “adama” (soil) involved.
      But when in doubt, always ask a rabbi. It’s probably not advisable to rely on the halachic opinions of a random farmer lady who writes a blog, such as myself 🙂

  3. A good friend sent me your info. on planting garlic. I did plant some years ago, they were tiny. Boo! I have a container garden. Many thanks. Ruchel , Modiin Ilit.

    1. If you plant the chinese ones you get from the supermarket, they do come out pretty small, but they are tasty and so easy to grow, so why not?
      By regulalry enriching the soil, as I suggest in my article, they should come out bigger though.

  4. Last night I did some planting with my grandchildren (ages 6, 4, 2). We had a packet of mixed winter flower seeds and, you guessed it, garlic!. Each child got 4 of those little containers that starter plants come in, got to scoop soil from a bag into their little pots and then plant the seeds and the garlic. Fun was had by all! We shall see what grows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *