Growing Garlic - advice on how to grow Garlic
Although visions of warm mediterrenean climates often spring to mind when thinking of growing Garlic it is easy to grow in colder, harsher climates such as Britain.
Garlic is an effective organic solution to many garden pests such as Carrot root fly, snails and aphids. It can also be effective against certain garden diseases.
Garlic is a member of the onion and leek family (Alliaceae).
Strings of Garlic can be hung in light or dark positions and will keep until around the May that succeeds their harvest.
A gap of two years should be left before replanting the same patch of garden with garlic/onion/leek to help prevent the onset of soil diseases.
Give the soil a good hoe and remove and weeds.
The time for planting garlic is typically late autumn through to early spring depending on the variety. It is important for the Garlic to experience cold periods so that the bulb contains a number of cloves.
Plant single cloves about 10cm apart with the flat (root) end of the clove facing downwards. Cover the cloves with about 2.5 cm of soil.
Plant Garlic in a position which receives a reasonable amount of sunshine. It will cope with some shade.
Garlic does not like very poorly drained, compacted soils but will grow successfully in soils that aren't well drained. The soil should be fertile.
Garlic requires some water as the bulbs require this as they swell up, about an inch a week in the spring months. You should not water the Garlic in the few weeks before harvesting when the leaves start to yellow.
Garlic is ready for harvesting around June-July. There are some varieties such as Early Wight that are ready for harvesting as early as May.
To determine whether your Garlic bulbs are ready for harvesting you use the part of the plant that is above the soil. The leaves should be yellowing and beginning to wilt. Some prefer to wait until the leaves have withered further and possibly been blown away.
When you think your crop is ready lift the bulbs (some prefer to dig them out as the roots can snap the bulb away from the stalks when pulling) and place them in a container which allows for the circulation and introduction of air. Leave this container in a dry well circulated spot where it is exposed to natural light for about 10 days. Trim the stalk to about 3cm above the bulb and trim the roots. This dries and ripens the Garlic so it is ready for storage after a quick rub to remove the outer layers of skin leaving the cloves within a white layer of inner skin.