Some of us have a little more time on our hands again and now is the perfect chance to get yourself some garlic bulbs and turn each clove in to a plump head of garlic which will do you the world of good. For some reason it’s one of those crops I always forget to plant, maybe it’s because I’m usually having a break from the veg patch at this time of year and I seem to miss the boat.
However this year Karen kindly gave me a stash that she ordered from The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk. They sell a large range which have all been selected to do well in our climate, have a browse on their site or simply pick up a few bulbs from your local garden centre and give it a go.
It is one of the simplest crops to try and as long as you water them well during dry spells and fingers crossed for some sunshine then hopefully you can’t go wrong.
The earlier you plant your cloves the better; Garlic needs a cool period of 30 to 60 nights with temperatures of below 10C for the cloves to form well, otherwise you will end up with one big fat clove, that won’t store well. By planting now, you give the clove enough time to shoot up before the dark days of winter.
By December or not long after you should have a little green shoot poking out of the soil, but as the temperature drops the garlic continues its magic underground.
It does best with space 18cm each way, or 10cm between cloves with 30cm between rows. The cloves need to be at least 2.5cm below the soil level and can be planted as deep as 10cm, in well-drained soil. Dib the cloves in rather than pushing them, as this can damage the base where the roots will appear.
Things to remember…
Plant in a sunny position in well drained soil
Yellowing foliage is a sign that the bulbs are reaching maturity
Better to hand weed to prevent damaging the bulbs.
Don’t over water bulbs which are reaching full maturity as it can encourage rotting.
Make sure you cut off any scapes (flower stems) but don’t waste these they are good to eat steamed in butter or in a stir fry.
Garlic thrives on potash so a bit of fresh ash from Bonfire night can be worked into the ground before planting. You can also feed again in mid-spring with a seaweed or comfrey feed if you really want to.