Growing Hardneck Garlic

Oct 22, 2018

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request:  My sister brought me some heads of hardneck garlic from her harvest in Idaho. I would like to know when is the best time to plant this garlic for this area. I have a fairly large garden area in my back yard in which I currently have tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, chiles, and a few weeds all of which are nearly at an end (except the weeds, sigh). I also have some space which I left fallow this summer. It all gets full sun. I appreciate any information you can offer. Thank you,

MGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener program with your questions about growing garlic. From your description, it sounds as if you have a good space for growing garlic, as it needs good soil and full sun. October is the ideal time for planting garlic in our area with a harvest expected next June so they should be planted where you won't need the space for your spring planting.

hardneck garlic
However, there is one caveat regarding your sister's hardneck garlic from Idaho. Plant material brought into California is subject to control by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and should not be imported without permission or inspection. If this garlic was passed by an inspection when your sister entered California, there is no problem. If not, please contact the CDFA to ask about this - here is their contact information. I know this sounds like a lot of fuss for a few heads of garlic, but there are very good reasons for these controls as many serious exotic plant diseases have entered California by such innocent means!

If you would still like to grow garlic, you could use the heads from Idaho in your kitchen and purchase some more for growing in your garden. You can probably still find seed garlic at some local nurseries or online. Suppliers that are out of state but ship to California will have passed inspection, and there are several in-state suppliers.

Here are some UC links with  more information on growing garlic in a home garden:  and 

We are not able to recommend any particular business, but some local nurseries may have them still in stock. Also, a Google search 'Suppliers of seed garlic California' brings up a number of Northern California suppliers and some of these websites have great information on growing needs and the different varieties.

I hope this helps, and if you have any further questions please do contact us again.

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SMW)

Note:  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 608-6683, email:, or on the web at MGCC Blogs can be found at You can also subscribe to the Blog  (//

By Steve I Morse
Author - Contra Costa County Master Gardener