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Garden - Cultivation

How to grow garlic

Garlic can be planted in the autumn (October/ November) or Spring (December to February). It’s incredibly easy to plant and very hardy so it’s a great bet for novice vegetable gardeners.

Garlic doesn’t produce seeds: all you have to do is plant the individual cloves. One little clove will produce a plant with about 30 new cloves on – so you can perpetuate the crop each year.

garlic-clovesUse a dibber to make a hole just deep enough to take the clove with the pointy end upwards and cover it with just  2.5cm of soil. Don’t let the top show through the soil or the birds will have it! Plant them about 15 cm apart in rows. You can also plant them in containers -  they’re not very decorative but it’s a good option if you don’t have a lot of space.

It’s not a good idea to use bulbs of garlic bought from the supermarket as they tend to produce weak plants and may be vulnerable to disease. Instead buy from a garden centre or online supplier such as >> Unwin’s

Garlic comes in two basic types: soft and hard neck. The soft neck varieties produce smaller more plentiful cloves and tend to last longer, so they’re good if you want to store them through the seasons. A very reliable variety is Solent Wight. The hard neck ones produce a smaller number of bigger cloves so they are better for cooking – but they don’t last so long. A good variety to try is Lautrec Wight.

Storing garlic

garlic-cropBefore you harvest the bulbs, allow the foliage to dry out. Fork the bulbs up and then leave them on the soil surface to dry out completely. If there is a likelihood of rain you can lay them out to dry in a garage or porch – or in the greenhouse if you have one.

You can make traditional plaits using the dried foliage so you can hang the bulbs up. This is a bit of a fiddly task but it does enable the air to circulate around the bulbs and helps keep them fresh. Otherwise you can just lay them out on a tray and store them somewhere cool and dry.

Pests and diseases

The good news about garlic is that it actually repels garden pests, like helping keep snails and slugs at bay. As to diseases, the main one to worry about is leek rust. This can happen if garlic is grown in wet soil so you can avoid it if you plant in well-drained soil with plenty of light.

Another good idea is to rotate growth of garlic with onions. For more about vegetable rotation and to plan your vegetable growing, we highly recommend using the downloadable vegetable planning tool from Growveg.com. It has a free trial for 30 days.
So give the 30 day Free Trial a go – and let us know what you think about it.

Don’t forget to try our brilliant garlic and honey remedy. Read all about the wonderful benefits of this strange but effective marriage. >> Garlic and honey

Garlic bulbstock suppliers

>> Unwins

Online Garden Planning Tool


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There are 4 comments

  1. Posted by Garden Theorist on November 4, 2009 at 5:21pm

    There are another three things to remember so you don't get a disappointing crop: 1. Garlic needs the sunniest spot in the garden. 2. Garlic is hungry and needs plenty of food. 3. Garlic hates having its roots wet, especially in winter. You may get away with it if you only have two out of three, but if you plant it in wet, undernourished ground that isn't in full sun you will get garlic-flavoured spring onions.

  2. Posted by Clare Flynn on November 12, 2009 at 10:31am

    Thanks for the great tips! Definitely don't want garlic-flavoured spring onions!

  3. Posted by Steve on February 23, 2010 at 10:19pm

    Thanks for the article, if you buy garlic now it really does need to be planted as soon as possible. I bought 5 bulbs last week and because it is so wet have decided to pot them up individually to plant out later when the soil has dried out a bit, at least they should get a reasonable start. Some of the cloves had already started to grow mouldy so I chucked them but was still left with about 60 plants! As usual I think I bought too many. A lady today told me that she makes garlic soup made with wild garlic leaves that is delicious apparently and not too garlicy!

  4. Posted by SusanG on February 28, 2010 at 2:02pm

    I think my November garlic has bitten the dust - or more accurately suffered death by drowning. They've been in a container outside through heavy snow and torrential rain so i'm not optimistic. I don't know whether to hang on till spring or assume the worst and chuck them so I can use the planter for something else. Any advice?

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