There is a million reasons to love garlic. It’s so useful in the kitchen, as well as in the garden.
We use SO much of this wonderful bulbs that we like to grow our own and now is the time to get it planted.
Garlic is an essential crop for us to grow to grow, we plant 3 different varieties. There are so many to choose from.
Check out this page at The Garlic Farm for a look at some varieties. ( No Affiliate Link Just Good Products)
But First, Why Grow Garlic?
• More Variety.
As I said there are so many varieties to grow, with all different characteristics.
Some are very strong they almost taste spicy, others are so mild and almost sweet. Some are better roasted and others can almost be eaten raw.
Typically, shops sell 2 standard varieties which are chosen for their growing reliability not flavour, so why not grow your own and put some variety in your meals?
• Health Benefits:
Garlic has documented health benefits but most importantly It can help boost your immune system.
• It Stores Well:
Once dries, garlic can last for the full year. So it is super easy to grow enough garlic to last you all year long with only a few cloves and a small patch of soil.
So, What Is Garlic?
Garlic is basically a bulb belonging to the allium(onion) family.
And like onions, its has a juicy pungent aroma and flavour that most of us have used in almost everything we cook.
Its also a great bug deterrent. We love to use any left over cloves in a homemade slug spray to protect our hostas from the millions of slugs and snails in our soil.
It worked a treat last year.
So, how can you grow a great crop of garlic?
Garlic is one of the easiest crops to plant and grow in your garden. It needs little to no maintenance and is fuss free.
Just give it a sunny patch of soil and a good drizzle of general fertilizer and your good to go.
How long does it take to grow a garlic bulb?
When grown in the correct way, garlic typically takes nine months to split and swell and be ready for eating.
And if you forget to harvest some bulbs, it will even grow a beautiful pom pom flower spike the following year, which the bees and pollinators love.
Planting Garlic – The Secrets To Growing A Great Crop
Here are Some Helpful Tips for Growing Garlic
The best time to plant hard neck garlic in the U.K is in the late Autumn. Here I try to have my crop in before Halloween.
This helps the bulb form lots of lovely roots to sustain it over winter. To produce cloves, garlic need a period of intense cold over the winter. This forces them to split into individual segments and grow well.
To ensure this happens, give your bulbs a few weeks of autumn growing so they can establish roots before winter hits.
The bulbs sit quite happy in the soil all winter ready to romp away next spring.
In the UK the leaves begin to yellow and die back in late spring early summer and I like to harvest my crop in late July to early August
Preparing Your Cloves For Planting.
Buy only large cloves for planting as these lead to the biggest bulbs.
There is 2 types of garlic cloves.
• Hard neck Garlic
Hard neck varieties are more suited for areas with really cold winters.
• Soft neck Garlic:
This is the type of garlic we are used to seeing at the shop, with white papery bulbs and mild flavours.
However don’t through the smaller ones away. Eat them or grow them on in a pot of soil on your windowsill to encourage lush green shoots to appear which you can snip off and eat in meals.
To Prepare The Cloves For Planting
You could try regrowing kitchen scraps with your kids too. Learn how to grow all your left overs on your windowsill. Kids LOVE this and it is great for Winter when theres not much else growing.
Separate each clove carefully. It doesn’t matter if the papery coating is loose or falls off but don’t go peeling it off as you can damage the delicate clove.
To encourage your garlic to sprout quicker, soak your bulbs in water with a little bicarbonate of soda day before planting.
This soaking gives the clove a boost to get it hydrated and raring to go as well as protect it from rotting while it establishes itself.
Preparing The Soil
Nutritious soil is best for growing any vegetable so adding a general fertilizer like blood fish and bone or compost works a treat.
To Plant Garlic
Garlic is so easy to plant, simply dig a shallow trench 3 to 4″ deep and spread some compost along the bottom. Lay your cloves 4″ apart along it.
Now just gently refill the trench and cover your cloves.
Remember to lay the cloves flat end down and pointy end up.
You don’t need to plant in rows though, just make sure your bulbs are around 4″ apart from the next bulb in all directions.
You can also start your cloves off in module trays or pots until spring if your ground isnt ready for them. Just transfer them into the ground when the soil thaws in spring.
Remember, when planting your cloves not to push them into the soil as this could damage the base plate (flat spot) where roots develop from.
As spring starts to warm the earth back up, the cloves will spring into growth producing long green shoots similar to an onion.
Can I Grow Garlic From A Shop Bought Clove?
Each clove of garlic has the potential to grow into a full-sized bulb.
It is best to buy specifically grown ‘seed’ cloves from a supplier as these are guaranteed disease free, however, I have regularly grown bulbs from store bought cloves and I have had no issues.
Make sure you choose the largest cloves to grow.
How To Harvest Garlic
When the leaves turn yellow at the end of summer, simply dig up the bulbs. Don’t just pull the leaves, they will break off and you will lose the bulbs location.
To Store Your Garlic
Take your bulbs and lay them, leaves and all somewhere dry. After around a week you can cut the roots and leaves off and your garlic will last for a long time.
Try growing sweetpeas over winter too with the kids. They will get a head start and you will end up with stunning blooms.
We keep ours in a wire basket in the shed.
So give it a go! Garlic can even be grown in a pot so even if all you have is a balcony you CAN grow garlic.