Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

How to Grow Garlic

Garlic cloves that are sprouting

I always include Garlic in my vegetable garden. Being a root vegetable/herb does not like/require high levels of fertiliser is soils. Higher levels result in excessive leaf growth with less development in the cloves, the main part we want. So these follow leaf crops in the crop rotation, with all root vegetables.

Traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest, they take up little space, but need to remain in their spot for quite some time, so plan carefully so they don't interfere with the planting space needs of other crops. They require good sunlight and consistent but not excessive watering.

To plant, separate a garlic bulb into it's cloves and ensure you plant them root end down by simply pushing each clove into the prepared soil so they are about halfway in the soil (minimum). Water once, unless the soil is already very wet and leave until the shoots appear. NB: In the photo on the right, you can see what happens when the clove is not planted deep enough. As the roots emerged, they have pushed the clove up out of the soil, rather than anchoring it down. If this happens, gently lift the clove to avoid damaging the roots, use your finger to poke a deeper hole (slightly deeper than the height of the clove) place the rooting clove in the hole and cover lightly with soil. Don't press it down as you'll damage the roots. Just lightly water it in to settle the soil around it.

After about a week planted, roots shoot

After two weeks planted, the clove shoots

These two photo's show a clove after a few days panting as the roots shoot, then after two weeks planted, the clove has rooted firmly and the shoots emerge from the tip.
After 4 weeks planted, this clove has divided

garlic plants at around 6 weeks of age

Planting Guide

Position: Full Sun
Plant: separate a garlic bulb into it's cloves and ensure you plant them root end down by simply pushing each clove into the prepared soil so they are about halfway in the soil (minimum).
Frost tolerant: Yes Heat tolerant: Yes
Feeding: Not required as it causes excess shoot growth at the expense of bulb development.
Plant Group: Alliums, part of the onion family and grown with other root crops.
Pests: Birds, snails and slugs when newly planted, otherwise few problems as the plant is a natural repellant
Harvesting: carefully loosen the soil beneath the developed bulb so it can be easily lifted free of the soil. Shake off the excess soil from the roots and hang in a cool dry area out of direct sunlight to dry for a week or so.

Footnotes & Harvest

As you head into summer, there will be appreciable development in the bulb size of the plants and you will be able to see this as a mound at the soil level and thickening of the neck. Although they obviously still need watering, care needs to be taken not to allow too much water to run down the centre of the plant, especially if the clump has started to try and flower. This flower spike can allow water down into the centre of the bulb and cause rot.

With the weather a little unpredictable this year, late rains then early very hot weather, our patch started to die back.

Harvesting onions & garlic

Once die back is obvious, stop watering. You can allow the plant to die back on their own, or, speed the process by bending the foliage over and then tie it up. Leave the plants to dry. I prefer to dig them up and allow them to dry in the a warm sunny area (but under cover from potential rain). Once dry, I use the foliage to tie/plait them all together to hang and cut bulbs as needed. These had to be harvested a little earlier than normal due to unseasonal heavy storms. We had already lost one to rot, so chose not to risk the rest.

Harvested Garlic

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