Delightful to grow and even better to eat
The cooler shorter days are a signal to plant garlic; traditionally garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest. But it really depends on your region; planting can anywhere from May through to July with some gardeners prefer to plant as late as August.
The main variety and most freely available is Printanor, this is the variety favoured by commercial growers and is a mid-sized bulb with a mild to strong flavour. Elephant garlic is popular variety for the home gardener; it has huge cloves make them perfect for roasting. As far as the flavour is concerned most people report it as a milder than Printanor but we have had a few customers saying they find it stronger.
Garlic is a 6 month low maintenance crop, a companion plant to tomatoes, carrots peas and beans acting as a deterrent to aphids and carrot fly.
It is best to plant “Mother Bulbs” rather than the bulbs you purchase that supermarket as these can be treated to stop them sprouting.
Before planting prepare the soil with generous amounts of compost and blood and bone, the position needs to be well-drained and in full sun.
Break apart the whole clove, as each individual clove will becomes a plant, discard any damaged or cloves that are too small. Plant the bulb with the pointy end facing upwards, to a depth of 5cm, give the plants around 8cm between each one and if you are planting in rows, around 20cm between each row.
Make sure you give them plenty of water in the drier months as failure to provide enough can result in small bulbs.
Harvesting and storing
Although Garlic is a 6 month crop, let the plants be your guide, look for is the lower leaves starting to turn brown by this time the tops would have mostly dried off. Don’t pull the garlic out by the leaves; rather lift it out by digging underneath the bulb. If you are in doubt then dig a little below the surface of the soil with your hands, you will be able to feel if the hard bulbs have formed. Once lifted they can be left lying on top of the soil for a few days (unless it rains) with the tops covering the bulbs for some protection – the sun then ripens and cures the bulb for better storage. Clean off all the soil and either braided them together or gather them together by their tops and store in a cool dry place ready for use.
We all know the many medicinal and health benefits of garlic but it can also be used as an insecticide, especially on soft body insects like caterpillars
100g Garlic – chopped
2 tbsp. mineral oil or liquid paraffin
Mix together than soak for 48 hours. Add half a litre of water and 30g pure soap. Filter the mix and store in a plastic container. When using mix 15ml (3tsp) to 1 litre of water, apply when necessary. Garlic leaves are a great addition or the diet and can be used as you would chives so in the off season try growing garlic tops. You can use one of the whole bulbs you have grown and in a narrow neck jar similar to a hyacinth bulb.
Team Tip – The little heartsease viola, makes a great companion to garlic and will help keep the weeds down.