Growing garlic is pretty easy and there is nothing nicer then tasting fresh garlic from your own garden. You can either sow spring or autumn garlic bulbs. You can plant garlic either between November and April – you will usually get bigger garlic bulbs if you start growing garlic in the autumn. Growing garlic is usually done from individual bulbs you can’t grow garlic from seed.
Growing Garlic – When to plant
If you decide to start growing garlic it’s best to plant the garlic bulbs before the last frost. Many gardeners plant their bulbs in October, November or December for the autumn varieties. The spring varieties get planted in February and March. It’s better to plant garlic earlier rather than later as this will ensure that the garlic bulbs will get some cold weather which is necessary for the garlic to vernalise.
Growing Garlic – Soil
To get the most out of growing garlic it’s best to grow garlic in full sun, the soil needs to be fertile and well draining.
Dig the soil deeply and break up the soil to a fine tilth so you have an easy to mange seed-bed. That the garlic bulb and break it into cloves. The cloves should be planted root-tip down, pointed tip goes up. You can just push them into the soil or make a hole with a garden dipper and place the clove inside the hole. Place the cloves about 10 to 15cm apart. You can also start growing garlic in containers or pots and many people have great success growing garlic in pots.
Looking after the crop
Garlic is pretty easy to grow all you need to do is keep the area weed free. You might need to water the garlic from March onwards until about two weeks before harvesting the garlic.
Garlic can be attacked by eelworms which will attack the roots and bulbs. Also they can suffer from rust which can literally cover the leaves and stem.
There are 2 types of garlic:
Hardneck – the hardneck bulb varieties don’t store as well as softneck varieties. Hardneck garlic produces a flower stem knows as a ‘scape’, these can be removed from the plant and used in salads.
Softneck – does not produce a flower stem ‘scape’. It will also store much better then the hardneck and keep for longer.
When to harvest
You can harvest hardneck varieties when 30% of the leaves start to go brown. Lift you garlic carefully by put a digging fork nest to the bulbs and gently lifting the fork and pulling the garlic gently on the stem.
Softneck varieties are ready to harvest when at least half the leaves have started drooping to one side.
Then gently brush off the excess mud and leave the garlic to dry – hang the garlic in a dry and sunny position, somewhere where there is a good air movement around or you can hang them in a greenhouse – but you need to let them dry thoroughly.
If you want your garlic to store it’s very important to dry your garlic well as otherwise they can start to rot.
Once dried you can peel back one dirty outer layer to reveal the real beauty of the garlic bulb.
Once dried you can either cut the stems off, or leave them on, and you can try to plait or grapping the bulbs.
It’s best to store garlic in a warm environment. Keep it in a utility room or hang it in your kitchen.
I hope that you will give growing garlic a go on your vegetable patch – below are some garlic videos from my own garden.