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 some know-how, this can become one of the many successful crops we can help you grow this season.
Did you know garlic is a long-term crop? Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest; these dates, however, are just a timeline to help us remember to do so. By planting earlier and harvesting a little later, your corms will be larger and still burst with juicy goodness.
- Garlic is easily grown in containers or in the garden, but wherever you grow them, it must have good drainage.
- To get the most out of your crop, you need to incorporate the correct nutrients at planting time, including plenty of compost into the soil and ‘Bone Flour’, which gives a massive boost of calcium and phosphorous. This is specifically good for any bulb or root crop.
- Dig 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.
Garlic rust is a fungal disease that can cause significant damage to the plant and reduce crop yields. It appears as small, yellowish spots on the garlic leaves. As the disease progresses, the spots turn brown and enlarge, turning reddish-brown like rust. Infected garlic plants will have stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and premature leaf dropping. It can also spread to other plants.
The best way to prevent garlic rust is to maintain good crop hygiene. Ensure that the garlic is well-spaced and avoid overhead watering.
If you get garlic rust, removing any infected leaves and disposing of them carefully to prevent the spread is essential.
Copper-based fungicides are commonly used and should be applied at the first sign of the disease.
- When harvesting, dig up the garlic; do not rip it from the ground.
- If you lift garlic too early, you will have smaller cloves, whereas if they are left too long, they will burst. Test one corm and decide if the rest is ready to harvest.
- 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 area or a dry, shady spot outside, away from direct sunlight.
- When the tops and roots have dried, cut them off, again being careful not to damage the bulbs.