Garlic Growing 101
Garlic Bulb cross view from underground

Reno Garlic Festival goes online with free year-long course.

Written by Claire McArthur

Photos courtesy of Reno Food Systems


Though the much-loved Reno Garlic Festival was cancelled this summer due to the pandemic, the event organizers want to make sure there is no shortage of garlic-fueled fun in your future.


A garlic bulb ready to be harvested. Photo by Rachelle Le Rude


This October, Reno Food Systems and Be the Change Project kicked off a year-long online (and free!) course teaching Reno-Tahoe gardeners of all skill levels everything they need to know about planting garlic this fall for a hearty summer harvest.

In just three years, the festival had succeeded in its mission to support local garlic growers and build a community of garlic enthusiasts — the 2019 festival attracted nearly 4,000 attendees — but the organizations still wanted to find new ways to inspire more people to grow garlic at home.

“We just hadn’t gotten there yet,” explains Jolene Cook, board member of Reno Food Systems. “We were glad to hear from the garlic growers who usually depend on our festival that much of their crop was pre-sold due to supply chain disruption in China, which supplies 75 percent of the world’s garlic, as well as the continued recognition of the importance of local farmers. So we turned our one-day, in-person event into a year-long learning opportunity.”

The online-based course, A Year in Garlic, will provide new articles and videos each month from Reno Garlic Fest vendors on the user-friendly, community-based platform Mighty Networks. 

“October’s lesson is all about learning how to make your bed. A lot of people who have signed up for the course already said they’ve tried to grow garlic and it’s been really puny and hasn’t worked out,” Cook says. “Garlic grows really well in Nevada, but the number one thing is you’ve got to have really good soil — fertile, soft, organic-matter-rich soil.”

On the first of each month, new content that is topical in terms of what needs to be done to your garlic crop during that period will be posted, and throughout the month, video tutorials, recipes, and community-engagement opportunities will be highlighted. Preparing your garden bed for garlic is October’s theme, and the content can be viewed whenever you’d like, as often as you’d like.

Throughout the year, participants will learn about all different topics pertaining to garlic, from composting with Full Circle Compost and Down to Earth Composting to garlic braiding with Katy Chandler-Isacksen from Be the Change Project.


Katy Chandler standing at her booth with a shirt that says "FARMY" in an ARMY logo style

Katy Chandler of Be the Change Project. Photo by Ben Lazar


Cary Yamamoto of Yamamoto Farms, Lyndsey Langsdale of Reno Food Systems, Charles Schembre of Desert Farming Initiative, and Earstin Whitten of Soulful Seeds are also slated as instructors during the 12-month course.


Earstin Whitten standing in his garden

Earstin Whitten of Soulful Seeds. Photo by Rachelle LeRude


During the winter months, when the garlic growing process is hands-off, participants will discover fun ways to use garlic in their kitchen, including a highly anticipated garlic doughnut recipe from Fausta Apambire of MwintSoph Enterprises. 

Once signed up for the course, participants also will have the opportunity to win garlic-themed prizes. Five lucky winners will take home a Be the Change Project garlic braid; 10 registrants will be offered “farmer mentors” who will come to their houses three to four times over the year for personalized, COVID-compliant garlic-growing consultations; and 30 more will receive a few heads of locally grown garlic seed and compost from Full Circle. A beautiful container from Moana Nursery pre-planted with garlic also is up for grabs.


NDA funds

NDA funds purchased Arnold’s Acres Garlic to give away to 30 participants
enrolled in the A Year in Garlic course. Photo by Ben Lazar


The Reno Garlic Festival, funded by the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, has grown each year since its inaugural event in 2017. And with a tentative 2021 date of July 31, it will be back at a new location, Dick Taylor Park, to accommodate that growth.

“It’s something to look forward to for next year, and if it can’t happen how it used to, we’ll come up with a new way to continue to engage our community’s love of garlic!” Cook adds.

To sign up for A Year in Garlic, visit


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