Become a Garlic Farmer and Grow Gourmet Garlic for Profit

grow gourmet garlic for profit
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Last Updated on 2 years by Michelle

“Growing garlic” was a popular topic during the pandemic, and its popularity continued into 2022. According to Exploding Topics, More and more people search for “garlic farm” and “garlic farmer” each year, and there are no signs of slowing. 

Garlic is a common ingredient in many recipes, both for its flavor and its health benefits. Personally, I toss a few garlic cloves in almost every recipe I make.

Garlic is high in vitamins C and B6, as well as manganese and selenium. It also contains calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins B1 and B2. Garlic is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to boost the immune system.

Why grow garlic for profit?

Square wicker basket full of cured garlic bulbs

Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. It’s been used medicinally, spiritually, and culinarily for millennia.

These days, garlic is widely available at grocery stores year-round. But there’s something special about garlic that you’ve grown yourself.

Not only does home-grown garlic taste better than store-bought, but you can also make a profit off of growing it!

Here are four reasons garlic is the perfect crop to grow for profit:

Growing Garlic Doesn't Take Much Room

In just 125 square feet, you can grow 400 bulbs of garlic. In an acre or less, you can grow tens of thousands of dollars worth of garlic. 

I grow garlic on 2.5-foot wide beds, and I plant four rows of garlic per bed. The bulbs are 6 inches apart within the row, and each row is 6 inches from the next.

A garlic bed 2.5' wide and 25' long, with 4 rows of garlic plants per bed.

Other plants take up much more space than garlic, so you’d need to plant several acres to get that type of return on your investment.

Growing Garlic Doesn't Take Much Effort/Upkeep

With just a little effort, you can produce large quantities of high-quality garlic that is perfect for cooking or for the farmer’s market.

When growing garlic for profit, there are just a few simple rules to produce the best possible crop. First, use an organic fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium when you plant garlic. Then, feed a high nitrogen fertilizer every two weeks once the plants break winter dormancy and begin growing.

You’ll need to weed regularly to prevent competition for resources, but that’s really it.

Large Inchelium Red Garlic Bulb moments after harvest

High Demand for Local Produce

Planting garlic to sell for profit is an excellent idea because of the high demand for local produce.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement of people who want to reduce their carbon footprints by eating locally grown food.

They want to buy food that is grown in ways aligned with their values, and they want to support small businesses instead of large agribusinesses.

This trend is only expected to continue as people become more aware of the environmental and social impact of their food choices.

The Environmental Impact of Local Food

One of the main reasons people choose to eat locally-grown food is because of the environmental impact of large-scale agriculture.

Industrial agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

It also uses vast amounts of energy and water, which puts a strain on local resources.

On the other hand, local food production uses far less energy and resources. Because local farmers are more likely to use sustainable practices, they can produce food with a much smaller environmental footprint.

Some studies have shown that eating locally grown food can reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 50%.

People love to eat garlic, and they love to buy locally where possible. Many small farmers can sell as much garlic as they can grow because of the appeal of locally-grown produce.

The Social Impact of Buying Local Food From Small Growers

Another reason people are choosing to eat locally-grown food is that they want to support small businesses instead of large agribusinesses.

Small-scale farmers are often more dedicated to sustainable practices than large industrial farms. They also tend to pay their workers better wages and provide better working conditions.

By buying from small farms, you can be confident that your money will support more ethical business practices.

Specialty Varieties: How to Choose and Grow Specialty Varieties of Garlic

There are two main types of garlic—hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic is characterized by a stiff central stalk that produces fewer but larger cloves.

Softneck garlic, on the other hand, has a more pliable central stalk and produces more cloves that are smaller in size.

Within these two main types of garlic, many different specialty varieties can be grown.

The only way to guarantee that you have these specialty varieties of garlic is to grow them yourself.

Choosing a Garlic Variety

The first step in growing specialty varieties of garlic is to choose the right variety for your region. This is important because certain varieties of garlic are better suited to certain climates.

For example, if you live in an area with hot summers and mild winters, you would want to choose a variety of garlic that can withstand the heat.

Some popular varieties of garlic that do well in hot climates include Thai Purple Stripe, Music, and Rose de Lautrec. 

If you live in an area with cold winters and cool summers, you would want to choose a variety of garlic that can withstand the cold.

Some popular varieties of garlic that do well in cold climates include Chesnok Red, Purple Glazer, and Red Toch. 

Different Varieties Have Different Flavor Profiles

Some varieties have an intense, spicy garlic flavor, and others are known for a subtle, rich flavor. Many people don’t realize all the options until they grow their own. Grow several different varieties to see which ones your market likes best!

Where Can You Sell Garlic Bulbs

There are several great places you can sell your extra produce, including farmer’s markets, roadside stands, Facebook Marketplace, and online stores.

Farmers Markets

One of the most popular places to sell locally-grown produce is at farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets offer growers a chance to connect with their customers and build a rapport.

Customers at farmer’s markets typically look for fresh, locally-grown produce, so it’s a great place to sell what you’re growing. Farmers’ markets usually have a fun and festive atmosphere, which can be a nice change of pace from working in the garden all week!

The clientele at farmer’s markets tends to be people who like to meet their farmers, have more money to spend than the average person, and shop for food several times per week.

Roadside Stands

Another option for selling your locally-grown produce is through roadside stands. Roadside stands are becoming increasingly popular as more people look for fresh, local food.

They offer customers the convenience of being able to stop by and pick up what they need without having to make a special trip to the store. And for growers, they provide an opportunity to reach a more significant number of people than farmer’s markets typically do.

Just be sure to get all the necessary permits and licenses before setting up shop!

Facebook Marketplace

In recent years, Facebook Marketplace has become a popular platform for buying and selling all sorts of things—including locally-grown produce.

Facebook Marketplace offers growers a convenient way to sell their surplus produce without leaving home. And since so many people are already on Facebook, it’s easy to reach potential customers who might not otherwise know about your products.

Create a post with photos and information about your produce, price, and pickup instructions, and you’re good to go!

Online Store

 Selling your locally-grown produce online is another excellent option. With an online store, you can reach customers from many places—not just those who live near you. And since customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes, it’s a convenient option for them as well.

Plus, there are no limits on what you can sell or how much you can sell—so it’s perfect for growers with large produce surpluses. You need a website and basic marketing know-how, and you’ll be in business in no time! 

Four Beds of Garlic growing in a garden. There are 4 rows of garlic plants per bed for a total of 16 rows of garlic.

Profit Potential for Homegrown Garlic

How much can you make from growing garlic? Garlic grown using organic practices can sell for an average of $2-$3 per bulb at most farmers’ markets. The growing potential for a 125-square-foot bed is 400 bulbs.

That means you could make $800 from just one 2.5′ X 50′ bed of garlic!

Selling Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the long, slender flowering stalks of hardneck garlic plants. Harvested in early summer, garlic scapes have a slightly milder flavor than cloves and can be used in many of the same ways. They are becoming increasingly popular with chefs and home cooks alike, meaning there is good money to be made in selling garlic scapes.

The going rate for fresh garlic scapes is $2-$3 per bunch or $8-$10 per pound. If you choose to preserve your garlic scapes, you can charge slightly less since you’ll be able to sell them for a more extended period outside of their typical 2-3 week season. Preserved garlic scapes should still fetch around $6-$8 per pound.

When setting your prices, be sure to take into account your costs of production as well as your competition’s prices. By doing this, you will be able to price your garlic scapes in a way that is profitable for you while still being competitive within your market.

Other Garlic Products

Black Garlic

Black garlic is a type of fermented garlic that has a sweeter, milder taste than regular garlic. It’s often used in Asian cuisine, and it can be made at home with just a few ingredients and a little bit of time. 

Because it takes time to make black garlic, you can charge more per bulb. Just be sure to find out if you need any special licenses or permits to sell this product if you making it out of a home kitchen.

Seasoning Blends

Creating homemade seasoning blends allows you to show off your creativity in the kitchen and capitalize on it. Unique seasoning blends enable home cooks to take their cooking to another level. Create some of your own seasoning blends with your leftover garlic bulbs so you can sell every last garlic clove you grow!

Freshly Harvested Inchelium Red Garlic Bulb

Garlic Varieties to Grow

Hardneck Garlic

Hardneck garlic is characterized by its stiff central stalk, which bears flowers. The immature flower stalk is called a scape and is delicious. The scape is pulled off the plant a few days after it appears so that the plant’s energy is directed to growing the garlic bulb instead of the flower.

Hardneck garlic typically has fewer and larger cloves than softneck garlic, and its flavor is often described as more complex and intense.

Hardneck garlic is best suited for colder climates, as it is more challenging to grow in warm weather.

Some popular hardneck garlic varieties include Music, Romanian Red, and Purple Glazer. 

Rows of garlic growing in garden

Softneck Garlic

In contrast to hardneck garlic, softneck garlic lacks a central stalk and flowers. It typically has more cloves than hardneck garlic, and its flavor is usually milder and more versatile. Softneck garlic is easier to grow in warm climates than hardneck garlic, which makes it the more popular type grown in the US. Some popular softneck garlic varieties include California White (“grocery store garlic”), Inchelium Red, and Lorz Italian.

Elephant Garlic

Elephant garlic is not a true garlic at all, but rather a member of the leek family. As its name suggests, elephant garlic is much larger than traditional types of garlic, with each bulb often weighing in at over a pound! It also has a milder flavor that is more similar to onion than to traditional types of garlic. Elephant garlic is often used as a flavoring agent rather than being eaten on its own. The most popular variety of elephant garlic is called “Giant Red.”

Pest Issues You May Run Into When Growing Garlic

Bulb Mites

Bulb mites are tiny spider-like creatures that feed on the leaves of garlic plants. These pests are most active in warm, dry weather and can cause significant damage to garlic crops if left unchecked. Bulb mites are difficult to control because they reproduce quickly and can easily spread from one plant to another. The best way to prevent bulb mites is to keep your garlic plants well-watered and to regularly check for infestations. If you do find bulb mites on your plants, remove them by hand or use an insecticide designed explicitly for bulb mites.

Clove Worms

Clove worms are the larvae of a type of moth that lays its eggs on garlic cloves. When the eggs hatch, the worms burrow into the cloves and feed on them. This feeding can damage the cloves and make them less marketable. Clove worms are difficult to control because they’re small and hard to spot. The best way to prevent clove worms is to inspect your garlic carefully before you plant it and Destroy any cloves that show signs of infestation. You should also check your plants regularly for infestations and remove any worms you find by hand.

Onion Thrips

Onion thrips are tiny insects that feed on the leaves of onion plants. However, they will also feed on garlic plants if given the opportunity. Onion thrips can cause severe damage to garlic crops by stripping the leaves off of the plants or by transmitting viral diseases from one plant to another.

Onion thrips are difficult to control because they’re small and hard to spot. The best way to prevent onion thrips is to inspect your garlic carefully before you plant it and Destroy any cloves that show signs of infestation. You should also continue regular inspections of your plants and remove any thrips you find by hand or with an insecticide designed for onion thrips.

A bed of garlic during the winter dormancy period. The bulbs are not growing due to the cold and short day length.

Where to Get Your Garlic Planting Stock

These are my favorite places to purchase seed garlic:

Garlic Gods

Territorial Seed

Filaree Garlic Farm

Hudson Valley Seed

Picture of a pile of freshly harvested garlic scapes

Conclusion

Growing garlic for profit is within reach for many people because it doesn’t require much room to grow, doesn’t require much upkeep, and is very popular with home cooks. Devote some space in your garden to garlic and consider selling your extra!

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