Green Garlic

May 19th, 2010

I don’t write many how-to posts here. Not sure why, except that neither do I read many how-to posts  But it occurs to me that green garlic is something that

  1. is not very well-known
  2. is not readily available to buy, unless you have a good farmer’s market nearby
  3. is exceedingly easy to grow indoors or out

So, then, here’s how to do it. You will need a head of garlic (from the grocery store is fine), a deep plant pot (old nursery containers are good), and potting soil.

Fill the pot with potting soil. Separate the garlic into individual cloves. Peel or don’t peel them; it really doesn’t make much difference. However, if they’re too shriveled, they probably won’t grow and it’s easier to determine that if you peel them.

Garlic for Planting

Preparing to replant hardneck garlic. Discard any rotted or badly shriveled cloves, like the ones at the top of the picture.

Poke holes in the surface of the potting soil with your finger, or if you want to look fancy and professional, with a dibble. Insert a garlic clove in each hole, so the top of the clove is about an inch or so below the soil. They can be planted quite close together because you’re going to use them before the plants make bulbs.

Spacing of garlic

Plant the cloves close together

Firm the soil over top of the cloves. Water well and put in a sunny window or under grow lights or in a cold frame or outdoors if nighttime temperatures don’t go much below freezing. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Green Garlic Sprouts

Green garlic, ready to dig

As soon as the plants sprout and get a few inches tall, you can start to use them. They develop very long roots, so I usually dig out a plant or two as needed with a long wooden plant label. They look something like  green onions, and as with green onions the entire plant is usable.

Green Garlic

Green Garlic, ready to use

OK, now how to use it? It seems to have an affinity for starchy food – potatoes and pasta  in particular. I’ve made Green Garlic Soup (and written about it). And I really need to start reading things I’ve posted in the past, because I was going to write here about the Sautéed Mushrooms I made a few days ago as a topping for Italian Sausage sandwiches. But then I found that I made something very similar a couple of years ago, wrote about it, and then forgot about it. Anyhow, this time I omitted the parsley, but added a few chopped sorrel leaves and a tiny amount of snipped bronze fennel leaves along with the tarragon.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Green Garlic

Sautéed Mushrooms with Green Garlic

A few more ideas:

  • Baked potato topping (instead of green onions or chives).
  • Pizza topping. I used to do this, but haven’t made pizza for a  long time. More often I make cheese toast, à la LuluLovesBombay. Substitute green garlic for the onion. It’s better if you let the cheese get bubbly and start to brown. Even better on naan than on sliced bread.
  • Snip the leaves into a salad.
  • Add to fried potatoes when they’re nearly cooked through. You can add ham or cheese to the potatoes, serve it with a fried egg on top and call it hash. (Yes, we do eat a lot of eggs and potatoes.)
  • For the grill, I make aluminum foil packets of sliced potatoes. Smear the foil with olive oil or butter, layer sliced potatoes, green garlic, salt & pepper. Make at least 2 layers. Drizzle with more olive oil or dot with butter. Fold up the aluminum foil into a leak-proof packet and grill over low or indirect heat until done. Best if the bottom layer of potatoes browns a bit. The steamy fragrance when you open the packet makes you forget the rest of the meal.
  • The sautéed mushrooms above would be great with pasta, with or without a few tomatoes added, maybe changing the herbs to basil and oregano. In fact I’m thinking of making that for dinner with some Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Some bacon might be nice in the sauce…
  • Or of course, just Google “green garlic”. I’ll probably do that when I run out of ideas.

11 Responses to “Green Garlic”

  1. Interesting how-to!
    Green garlic has been limited in availability, but since it is increasing in popularity, more stores are picking it up. Christopher Ranch released it’s first green garlic harvest this year, and it’s available in Whole Foods

    • entangled says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Of course, I’d prefer that folks grow their own 🙂 , but your website has some great-looking recipes.

  2. Nancy Bond says:

    Wow, does this all sound delicious! Especially with the sauteed mushrooms. Or most anything else, for that matter. 🙂 Thanks for the simple and concise instructions!

  3. Wendy says:

    yum! I’ve got to try this. Is this is “cut and come again” thing? or do you have the pull the whole thing? How is the flavor?

    Your recipe ideas sound wonderful

    • entangled says:

      Hmm, I’ve never tried cutting it. That’s a great idea for an experiment. I think it might work for a while, but then when the bulb would normally go dormant, it will go dormant? Just a guess.

      I would characterize the flavor of the tops as “garlic with fresh green overtones” – similar to garlic chives, but more garlicky. The white part doesn’t have the green taste – more like a freshly-dug garlic bulb.

  4. Sandy says:

    I will use this. My mom used to grow garlic like this for potatoes and potato soup. Thank you very much.

  5. Jake the Girl says:

    That sounds so easy! I’m going to plant some at my mom’s house in upstate NY, and then again at my house in Northern California, and compare. I bet it grows fine in both places.

    **Check out Adina Sara’s gardening column in the MacArthur Metro! Visit for links to the column and her book, The Imperfect Garden**

  6. Green garlic sounds good, Entangled – whether or not it’s in fashion…. think Philo would like this. Thank you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    • entangled says:

      Philo and I must have similar tastes 😉 I’m going to make the sauteed mushrooms again this weekend.

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