CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW 'GARDEN OF EADEN’ WEBSITE AND SEED SHOP
If you are used to having even a reasonable success with main-crop onions then you should have no problems at all with growing garlic as their cultivation needs are almost identical. It is definitely a crop worth growing yourself because the absolutely best garlic you can get is that lifted fresh from the ground – known as wet garlic. This garlic is sweeter, less pungent and far more digestible than dried garlic, and the only way to guarantee your personal supply is to grow it yourself.
It’s all in the preparation, and if you can, you should be preparing your garlic bed by the end of summer. The reason for this is simple - the secret in getting really big bulbs, with plenty of divisions, is to get them planted in the ground by around the middle of October.
Dig in plenty of well-rotted farm manure as garlic plants love to be grown in a rich fertile soil, but strangely they don’t care for high levels of nitrogen and so avoid planting on freshly manured soil. Instead, dig over and add manure to the ground several months before planting which means you could be preparing your garlic bed as early as August. You may even wish to add a little bonemeal at this time.
Drainage is also important as garlic will rot in water-logged conditions so if you intend planting into heavy soil add plenty of organic matter and even horticultural grit to improve its drainage.
If you soil is too acidic – below pH 5.5 – you will need to add lime to the bed, but only do so according to manufactures recommendations. In general, garlic plants will prefer a pH of between 6 and 7.5.
When planting at this time of year you must stick to using specific cultivated varieties such as ‘White Pearl’, 'Albigensian Wight', 'Early Purple Wight', ' Iberian Wight', 'Lautrec Wight' - widely regarded as Frances finest garlic, and Purple Moldovan Wight, all of which are known to suitable for growing our northern climates. Unfortunately, if you try to some of the larger supermarket bulbs they have probably been treated to prevent sprouting and are highly likely to die off in the cold wet weather.
Start by dividing the cloves of garlic from the bulb and then set the largest and healthiest looking cloves aside for planting. Plant the garlic cloves 4 inches apart in rows 8 inches apart. Place them in an upright position, no more than 1 ½ inch below the soil surface - the bottom of the clove is identified by its flattened, slightly concave end.
From May, try adding a general fertiliser - like growmore - every four weeks for extra fertility, but you can also consider adding micro-nutrients - in particular boron and zinc – which are important in garlic production in order to get the best taste. Consider giving your garlic plants a periodic liquid feed of seaweed based fertiliser but if your garlic plants are clearly growing well this will probably be unnecessary.
Although it’s important to grow garlic in a free draining soil, they will still need watering especially in hot, dry weather.
When growing garlic in rows, leave enough space between the rows to get your hoe in for weeding. However, always hand-weed between your garlic plants as they are easily damaged by garden tools.
Your garlic should be ready for harvesting any time between August to September depending on both the weather and individual varieties. The bulb will be mature when the foliage turns yellow and begins to tip over, but you will need to leave them for another couple of weeks before lifting.
The problem with harvesting garlic is knowing when they are ripe in order to lift them. Harvest them too early and the bulbs will be too small, but harvest too late and the bulbs will begin to loose their quality. If the weather is wet in early August, pull up a single bulb and see how many sheaths (the thin papery layers that surround the bulb) you can peel off the bulb, if the answer is three then the bulb is ready to be lifted. If you can remove four or more layers then it is best to wait another couple of weeks or at least until most of the leaves have turned brown. Once lifted, most of the bulbs can be washed and dried, and then placed into a warm dry part of the garden to dry out, however if rain is forecast then they will need to be brought indoors. Once dried off, these bulbs should now keep in good condition for 3 months or more.
For more information click onto:
Garlic - a Cure for Cancer?
Garlic - a Cure for High Blood Pressure?
Growing Garlic in Containers
How to Grow Asparagus
How to Grow Butternut Squash
How to Grow Garlic in Pots and Containers
How to Grow Garlic in the Garden?
How to Grow Mushrooms
How to Grow Mushrooms at Home
How to Grow your own Garlic in the Garden
How to Grow Giant Onions
How to Grow Potatoes
How to Grow Rosemary from Cuttings?
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pots or Containers
How to Grow Vegetables?
How to Make my Recipe for English Onion Soup
How to Plant Garlic
How to Plant Garlic in Containers
How to Sow and Grow Spring Onions from Seed
Is Garlic Good for the Heart?
Turmeric Spice - a Cure for Cancer, Dementia, and Arthritis?