Have you ever wondered how to plant garlic bulbs? This guide shows how easy garlic is to grow at home giving you a year-round supply. Garlic is an essential pantry item but can be expensive to buy especially if you like fresh garlic.
Once you start growing your own garlic you will never have to buy garlic again as the garlic bulbs you grew last year can be planted out to create more bulbs for the coming year.
It is always a good idea to plant more than you will use over the course of the year so you will have enough to plant out again.
There are many different varieties available to buy from garden centres. It is best to find out what variety grows best in your area as some will do better in cooler climates where as others prefer warm Mediterranean climates.
Every country has their own unique cultivars. There is even a black garlic which is gaining in popularity. Unlike other varieties the black bulb is soft like a paste making it easy to add to sauces.
Hard neck varieties will tend to be spicy and prefer colder winters while the soft neck varieties are mild in flavour making them great for dressings. The purple garlic varieties are sweet and grow well in warmer climates.
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In the Southern hemisphere it is best to plant garlic in late February to early April for a harvest in October to November. In the Northern hemisphere plant in September to December with harvest between February to May depending on your climate.
Choose a position in full sun to part shade. They can be grown in a shade house with 50% shade.
Consider planting around broccoli, cauliflowers or cabbages as garlic is known to be a natural pest repellent.
Garlic usually takes 6 to 9 months from planting to harvest. When half the leaves have dried you can carefully dig down to see if the garlic bulb has formed.
Time needed: 45 minutes.
How to Plant Garlic Bulbs
- Soil Preparation
Add compost and aged cow manure to your soil prior to planting then cultivate to a depth of 25cm (10 inches). Garlic needs well cultivated soil with plenty of organic matter. You can grow garlic in deep pots 30 to 40cm deep (12 to 16 inches) with potting mix.
- Make the Rows
First make rows 20cm (8 inches) apart making a trench with your trowel 5 to 10cm (2 to 4 inches) deep. The depth will be twice the height of the clove.
- Planting the Cloves
Pull apart the bulb then set aside the smallest cloves for eating as they won’t produce large bulbs. Place each clove in the trench root side down 10 to 15cm (4 to 6 inches) apart to give each clove enough room to form a bulb.
- Water Management
Gently cover with soil leaving a slight ditch on top to keep the water where it is needed. Build up the soil around the edge of each row. This will help to preserve water. Mulch well.
- Plant Care
Keep garlic moist but not water logged. Once it has sprouted fertilise with liquid fertiliser every two weeks.
See my guide on Harvesting, Storing and Braiding Garlic.
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Garlic is a natural pest repellent which is why it is great for companion planting. There are a few pests that can affect garlic which is why it is a good idea to plant it in different spots each year.
Thrips, nematodes and bulb mites are the most common pests. Pesticides can be used however it is best to practice crop rotation and purchase disease free bulbs from your garden centre.
Don’t be tempted to purchase a garlic bulb from the local supermarket to plant. It may not be disease free or suitable for your area.
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