Garlic, it has a ton of vitamins and makes dinner taste 100x better. What’s not to love?
It also happens to be very easy to grow!
Soil and Temperature
Whether you’re growing garlic in the garden or in pots, good soil is key. In the garden, dig in rich organic materials such as well-rotted manure (or sheep pellets), seaweed and compost. Garlic is a heavy feeder so your soil needs to be bursting with goodness. Avoid planting your garlic in a space where a heavy feeder has just been.
Planting your garlic in autumn before the cold of winter means the cloves will establish strong roots. The coldness of the coming winter then puts the garlic into a dormant state and it’s this cold period that actually stimulates the individual bulb formation.
The kind of garlic you choose is important too. Go for organic bulbs so you know they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals that could deter their growing and be bad for your health. Buying seed garlic from a garden centre is always a safe bet, though I did source my first lot from my local organic store. From then on I saved the biggest cloves from my own bulbs to replant for the years after that.
When planting, make sure to break the bulb up into individual cloves. Each clove will grow into its own full bulb. You want to choose the biggest, fattest cloves as they will grow into the biggest bulbs.
Dig your garlic nice and deep, about double as deep as the clove is long. Place the clove in with the pointed bit facing up. This is where the new shoots will grow from. Garlic bulbs get very tall and heavy and have short roots so planting them deep enough under ground is important so that the plant doesn’t tip over. Space your garlic out well to ensure there is enough room, at least 10cm apart.
Keep your garlic bed weed free and well mulched- don’t let the weeds take all the goodness you’ve just put into your soil!
Garlic needs to be fed and watered well if you want decent bulbs. Give it a liquid feed every three or four weeks with a high nitrogen fertiliser for the first 4 months, such as a manure tea. After that, switch to a seaweed-based liquid feed as you no longer want the plant to put its energy into growing the green scapes, rather for it to fatten its bulb.
In the last month, really cut back the watering to allow the plant to start drying out. Your garlic will be ready to harvest in about 6 months time.
When your garlic leaves start dying back it is a sign the garlic is ready to harvest. However, not all the green scapes will turn brown so I suggest you pull out one and cut it to see how it’s going. The outside of the bulb should be covered in a papery skin and inside, individual cloves should be formed.
When harvesting your garlic it is important you let the whole plant dry out in a cool dry place for at least a week before cutting off the bulbs. This will ensure your garlic can be stored longer without rotting.