Elephant Garlic is actually a leek, but resembles a larger version of traditional, hardneck garlic. It produces large cloves that average 1.5″ – 2″ in length. Each bulb usually contains about 5-6 cloves. The cloves are easy to peel and prepare. Elephant Garlic has a milder flavor than traditional garlic and is easy and fun to grow. In ideal conditions plants may reach 36″ to 48″ tall. Once the plants flower, the scapes or leaves may be harvested to use as a garnish or can be sautéed and used as a side dish.
Much like shallots and onions, Elephant Garlic is a heavy feeder and will require plenty of water and fertilizer. It should be given at least 1″ of water per week for best results. We suggest fertilizing with a complete fertilizer like our 20-20-20 initially to promote root development, and then switching to a nitrogen and sulfur-based fertilizer like our Ammonium Sulfate. Elephant Garlic will grow best when competition with weeds is reduced. Keep weeds at a minimum with frequent shallow cultivation.
Bulbs are ready to harvest when the tops flower and the cloves reach an acceptable size. Pull the bulbs from the soil and allow them to “cure” in the sun for a couple of days. If rain is imminent, move them to a dry area. Once cured, place bulbs in a cool, dry area that is well-ventilated. A pole barn or a ventilated storage basement is sufficient.
Elephant Garlic Planting Information
When to Plant: Plant 2 weeks before the first frost date in fall and overwinter throughout the spring. Plants can tolerate cold temperatures and will do best when overwintered. In warmer climates, it can also be planted in late winter/early spring. However bulbs will not usually be as big as when planted in fall. Ideal planting dates for zones 4-8 are listed below:
- Zone 4 – mid-September
- Zone 5 – early October
- Zone 6 – mid-October
- Zone 7 – early November
- Zone 8 – mid-November
Planting Depth: Create a planting furrow in the soil and plant the cloves about 2-3″ deep. Well-drained soil will produce the best harvests.
Seed Spacing: Plant cloves about 8-12″ apart along the row.
Row Spacing: Cloves may be planted on single rows as close as 1-2′ apart, but also perform well when planted on double rows with drip irrigation in the middle.