Planting garlic was a perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the glorious Autumn sunshine today! Who doesn’t love being outside when the sky looks like this!
First of all, I should say I am a bit late planting my garlic this year – its been one of those jobs that I have just never go to, and the cloves are so desperate to get in the ground they have started growing in the bag. The new shoots are using the energy in the clove rather than putting out roots, so I needed to get them in the ground where they belong. Luckily the weather has been relatively mild so the ground is still warm enough, but for next year, I will try and get them in in October.
Garlic is a staple in cooking in our house, and it has a multitude of health benefits, so having a good crop will make sure that we have a plentiful supply, once its harvested, I’ll hang it, along with the onions, and it will store and keep for a few months in a cool room.
Planting garlic couldn’t be easier, try and choose fairly loose, well draining soil in a spot with plenty of sun. If your soil is heavy clay and very compacted, its worth digging in some sand and compost or manure to improve the structure.
First create a shallow trench in the ground, about 10cm deep. If you are planting elephant garlic, go deeper, a good rule of thumb would be to plant the garlic about twice the depth of the size of the clove.
Once you have prepared your trench, take the individual cloves and place them in the trench, pointed end up, and about 15cm apart. If you want to do more than one row, make the rows about 15cm apart as well. Cover over with earth, water if the ground is dry, and wait for the little green shoots to push out of the ground in 6-8 weeks. Don’t worry about the cold, the garlic will just stop growing when it gets too cold, and start again in the spring when it warms up. If you have planted late like me, there is a possibility you wont see any green shoots until the spring – have faith – they will come!
Garlic planted in the autumn should be ready to harvest in early summer, June and July, You can also plant your garlic in the spring, the method is exactly the same, your harvest will just be slightly later – you could get really fancy pants and do a few autumn and a few spring if you like! To tell when its ready to harvest you wait until the leaves have started to turn yellow and die back, just loosen the ground gently and you will be able to lift the new bulbs with a trowel. When mine (hopefully) get to this point I will try and remember to take some photos to show the leaves and how to tell that its ready.
Next year, when you harvest your garlic select a bulb or two to create your crops for the following year – take only the biggest cloves from the bulb for planting, this will help you keep getting good strong bulbs of garlic year after year. The smaller cloves take and use in your kitchen. If you are using a head of garlic from a garden centre sold specifically for planting, you can use all the cloves. But remember so save some the following year and you should never need to buy garlic again! Winner. It really is soo easy to grow garlic and I hope you have the chance to give it a go.