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If you’re looking to calculate and grow a year’s worth of anything, garlic is the easiest by far.
Not only is it easy, but saves a lot of money for those of us who add 8 cloves to the meal, when the recipe calls for a measly 1-2 cloves of garlic.
The first step to calculating your needs is to understand what to expect.
Then, you can actually calculate a realistic number of cloves to plant for your family, and deciphering that number is the whole point of this post.
How much garlic do you get from one plant?
Garlic is planted by the individual clove, and each clove becomes a plant, so the expected yield is easy to measure.
One garlic clove will grow into a single plant and produce one whole bulb of garlic. In general, garlic bulbs produce from 2-14 cloves each. Some types of garlic produce fewer but larger cloves, while other types produce several smaller cloves.
Before you break your bulbs for planting, count how many cloves per bulb is the average. From here, you can expect this same amount in your harvest if you give your plants average care.
Hardneck ‘Music’ garlic, the most popular type of garlic grown in our area, provides 3-6 cloves per bulb.
From our initial planting of 32 cloves, we yielded 32 plants. From those 32 plants, we now have 128-192 cloves for eating or planting.
Expected yield of popular garlic varieties
|Garlic type||Average number of cloves||Clove size|
|Music (Hardneck)||3-6||Very large|
|Spanish Roja (Hardneck)||7-10||Large|
|Russian Red (Hardneck)||8-10||Medium|
|Artichoke (Softneck)||10-14||Small to medium|
|Chesnock Red (Hardneck)||8-10||Medium|
|Persian Star (Hardneck)||8-10||Medium|
|Nootka Rose Silverskin (Softneck)||15-24||Small to medium|
While softneck garlic is gorgeous to braid, hardneck garlic will yield you more food!
Don’t forget to cut and eat the scapes from hardneck varieties.
Is it cost-effective to grow your own garlic?
To provide you with realistic expectations, we put together the prices of garlic and our yields from growing it.
We got 8 bulbs and 32 large cloves from 1lb of local seed garlic for $22. The number of bulbs and cloves you’ll receive in a pound of garlic varies between garlic types. One pound of garlic has a range of 7-12 bulbs of garlic per pound. Each bulb will have between 3 and 14 plantable cloves.
While we paid $22 for 1 pound of local seed garlic, and we will never need to buy garlic again. From the one pound, we grew 32 plants and yielded 3.5 pounds of bulbs—so we saved $55 on garlic. We now have 80 cloves to replant and 100 cloves to eat.
Planting 80 cloves will yield 80 bulbs with 320-480 total cloves.
At the grocery store, we would need to pay between $9/lb and $20/lb for garlic for eating. While cheaper than what our neighbors are selling their seed garlic for, their locally grown garlic is already accustomed to our climate, and we trust and support the way it was produced.
Avoid buying imported garlic from other countries with the intent of planting (and eating…)
Imported garlic bulbs will not have any acclimatization to your climate and have, more than likely, been bathed in chemicals that will prevent a successful crop—being cheap is not a good investment.
How do I calculate how much garlic I need to grow?
As you can see, garlic can easily multiply out of hand if you plant more and more cloves every year!
Rather than growing endless amounts of garlic, decide on a set number of cloves to plant.
Your family’s yearly garlic consumption is determined by the average amount of garlic used per meal. What is the least amount of garlic cloves you’ll add to a meal that calls for garlic? Then, what is the largest number of cloves you’ll add to a garlicky meal? Pick a number in the middle.
For example, we are growing Music garlic as our staple garlic variety. These bulbs yield 4-6 large cloves. in a single meal, for two people, we use an average of half the bulb.
Of this type of garlic, we use a minimum of 2 cloves and a maximum of 6 cloves in a single meal for two.
Once you have your average number of garlic cloves per meal, or per person, you’ll need to estimate the average frequency you cook with garlic.
- Do you cook with garlic once per day? Twice sometimes?
- How many times per week do you use garlic?
- Over the course of a month, do you consistently use garlic every week?
How our family uses garlic:
Unless we feel a cold coming on, we typically use garlic in one meal per day.
Sometimes, even our garlic-inclusive main meal has a fresh side salsa to which I would add garlic, so we occasionally use double the garlic at dinner.
Then when thinking, usually a couple of days a week I don’t peel any garlic.
We also tend to eat garlic consistently throughout the year, as we want all its benefits.
After entering our weekly garlic consumption, we can see the calculated estimate that a single person eats garlic 6 times a week.
It also shows that I personally consume 1.5 garlic bulbs per week.
Note, the calculator intentionally breaks it down to the per person per meal so that later, with any type of crop, like tomatoes, peppers, or brussel sprouts, we can adjust the number of people we cook a particular vegetable for—not everyone eats a portion of brussel sprouts!
Finally, we decide how many months of the year we consume garlic.
We like garlic year-round! So we put ’12’ and we cook for two people, so we put ‘2’ people that we grow/cook garlic for.
How much garlic do you need for a year?
Our results from this calculation show an average number of garlic the two of us will consume over the course of a year.
On average, we need 78 plants per person to yield a year’s worth of cooking garlic. Multiply it by 2 to feed both of us, and that is a total of 158 cloves for planting just so we can eat homegrown garlic for a full year.
But we need to account for more than just cooking garlic so we can replant enough cloves for the following years’ harvest.
How to grow enough garlic for replanting
To grow your own garlic, you’ll need to grow not only enough to eat for the year, but enough to replant for a year’s worth to eat and replant in the following season.
Since Music garlic yields an average of 5 cloves per bulb, you would think it’s as easy as dividing 78 by 5 and rounding up to 16 cloves for replanting so you have 78 cloves to replant next year, but then, next year, you have no replanting cloves.
Now you need enough replanting garlic for ‘replanting garlic‘ year after year.
My brother and I made the formula so you can easily determine how much replanting garlic you’ll need.
Here is a chart to show you the coefficient and formula, but below, I link you to the garlic replanting calculator so you don’t need to grab and pen and paper.
|Garlic type||Average number of cloves||Replanting coefficient|
|Spanish Roja (Hardneck)||9||1.125|
|Russian Red (Hardneck)||9||1.125|
|Chesnock Red (Hardneck)||9||1.125|
|Persian Star (Hardneck)||9||1.125|
|Nootka Rose Silverskin (Softneck)||20||1.052|
How to use the coefficient with the amount of cooking garlic needed:
At this point, you’ll have calculated how much garlic you need for cooking.
In our case, we need 400 cloves for a year of cooking.
400 ‘Music’ garlic bulbs x 1.25 = 100 planting cloves.
Replant a minimum of 100 cloves per person every year to account for having enough cooking and replanting garlic year after year. 80 bulbs can be consumed, and the remaining 20 bulbs will be broken up into an average of 100 cloves.
You can either decide on your garlic type first and use the corresponding coefficient, or you can enter the number of cloves you need per year into the calculator, and it will show you the most space-efficient garlic for you to grow.
Do you have space to grow a year’s worth of garlic?
One year, we planted our Music garlic too close and it resulted in 2-3 cloves per plant, instead of the normal average of 5 (4-6 cloves each). So proper spacing is vital to a good harvest.
Space garlic at no less than 6 inches apart on all sides to retain the size and number of cloves in a bulb. Start by planting one straight row with 6-inch spacing. The next row can either be 6 inches to the side and planted square, or staggered for diamond spacing.
64 cloves of garlic can be planted in 4×4 bed. In a 16 square-foot space you’d make a line with 8 cloves of garlic per row starting 3 inches in from the border edge.
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