If you love to cook with garlic, but have never tried to grow your own, then there is no time like now to give it a go. Growing garlic is easy and with a little know how this can become one of the many successful crops we can help you to grow this season.
Did you realise garlic is a long term crop? Traditionally garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest; these dates however are really just a timeline to help us to remember to do so. By planting earlier and harvesting a little later your corms will be a larger size and will still be bursting with juicy goodness.
Garlic is easily grown in containers or in the garden, but wherever you grow them it’s essential that they have good drainage. To get the most out of your crop you need to incorporate the correct nutrients at planting time; incorporating plenty of compost into the soil, as well as ‘Bone Flour’ gives a huge boost of calcium and phosphorous, which is specifically good for any kind of bulb or root crop. Dig both compost and bone flour into the root zone at the time of planting, adding 1-2 teaspoons of the bone flour per corm. Use only certified garlic from your garden centre; don’t use those you bought for cooking from the supermarket.
Plant each clove of garlic 5-8cm below the soil surface and about 15cm apart, making sure the pointed end is facing upwards. Use only the bigger ‘juicy’ looking corms, as the small ones really won’t do much and are a waste of space. These smaller ones, you can use in cooking just like shop-bought garlic corms. It is important to keep the area weed-free and well-watered during the summer.
When harvesting, make sure you dig up the garlic; do not rip it out of the ground. If you lift garlic too early you will have smaller cloves, whereas if they are left too long they will burst. Once you have dug up your garlic, gently brush off any soil clinging to the bulbs, being careful not to gouge them. Allow three to four weeks of drying in a well-ventilated situation or in a dry, shady spot outside, away from direct sunlight. When the tops and roots have dried, cut them off, again being careful to not damage the bulbs.