How to grow garlic

how to grow garlic; garlic curingMay through July is garlic planting time. Growing garlic is easy, which makes it one of my favourite crops. Am I lazy loving something because its easy? Well so be it!, easy is so very lovable. It is, of course, a very important crop for the kitchen.

Here are a few things you can do that will take your garlic crop from average to extraordinary.

Good drainage and yummy soil

When you see the words good drainage I hope you sit up and pay attention (I have a bad feeling it’s one of those instructions that’s ignored) Drainage is a make or break moment for your garlic crop. If you are on heavy soil plant in pots or make a mound and plant into that. Go the extra mile and open your soil up with a broadfork or similar, before creating your mound. As for yummy soil, well it’s tricky advising on soil amendments as we’re all in a different situation. You will need compost (I spread a 5cm layer) and I also add Roksolid (being a big fan).  Do whatever it is you need to do to make crumbly, wormy soil that smells good and earthy, tastes a little sweet and will support a crop for 6 months.

Rotate

Garlic is hungry, so don’t grow after a heavy feeder. Nor should you grow for three years after any of its antagonistic oniony relations.

Plant

At 10cm spacings, and so the tips of the bulbs are level with the top of the soil. Make your rows 20cm apart. Too much space and you’ll get lots of weeds in the gaps. Too close and they’ll be scrawny little garlics, having spent 6 months fighting over scraps of food.

Weed

Yes I know, its like outside housework, but some crops need weeding and garlic is one such. If left to grow, the weeds will steal all the nutrition you provided for your garlic. They’ll also block light and air causing rot and fungus. Scratch the weeds up when they’re little with one of those wonderful long handled wonder weeders, then leave them in situ to melt back into the soil.

Feed

Mix up a watering can of seaweed feed once a month and pour it on.

Harvest and Cure

For juicy bulbs with a long life you need to catch your garlic at its prime. When the tops begin to dry off harvest time is near. Dig a bulb up to look see, and continue to check in this way until your bulbs are beautifully formed. (Once the tops are completely dry prime time is past and old age is nigh.) Harvest with care on a dry day. Gently rub the bulk of the dirt off (do this in the garden to avoid a mess), leaving the skin intact. Hang in small bunches in an airy, dry place out of direct sunlight to cure. Once they’re nicely dry lightly trim the roots and either plait or trim the tops. Peel off any dirty or ratty skin if you must, but do remember the better protected the bulbs are, the better they’ll store.