How to grow garlic

how to grow garlic; garlic curingMay through July is garlic planting time. Though I’ve had hassle with rust these last few years, garlic is still one of my favourite crops.

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. 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 2cm layer), but this depends on the state of your soil to begin with. Minerals are the very best idea you’ve had all day. Fodda is a really solid feriliser.  Your soil needs to 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 20cm 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 a hoe or 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.