How to grow: Garlic

Close shot of garlic bulbs.

It’s either loved or hated but whatever your view garlic is certainly popular… and until you have tasted your own grown you won’t believe that it can be so much better than shop bought.

It isn’t a difficult crop to grow, but it is in the ground a long time, so ideally find a sunny corner or edge of a plot to grow it.

Varieties

‘Solent Wight’
Very large bulbs about 6cm (21⁄2in) across. Keeps well.

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‘Purple Wight’
Has very chunky cloves and is slightly sweet.

‘Albigensian Wight’
A large garlic from southern France.

‘Elephant garlic’
Not a member of the garlic family A. sativum but more closely related to the leek. Makes a massive bulb and cloves great for roasting whole. Milder than other garlics.

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Garlic plant.

Growing tips

Sowing/planting

Autumn is the best time to plant garlic because it actually benefits from a period of cold to induce good hearty bulb formation by summer.

Whole garlic bulbs can be bought in early autumn from garden centres or by mail order from specialist growers.

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To plant, split up the bulbs into individual cloves and plant with the pointed end upper most. Bury about 5cm (2in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart.

If your soil is very heavy you may want to wait until February to plant or alternatively add some gritty sand to the trench before planting.

Growing on

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If planted in October/November the garlic should be showing shoots by January. In spring a high nitrogen feed can be beneficial and encourage good growth.

Between May and June the leaves will start to yellow and growth will cease. Once the foliage has almost completely withered it is time to lift the bulbs.

Choose a period of settled dry weather to do this and leave the bulbs on the surface of the soil to dry for a day.

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