Growing Garlic - How To Do It

how to grow garlicGarlic is a key ingredient in a variety of foods around the world, everything from Asian stir fry to Italian pizzas. It is also said to have medicinal properties, with research suggesting it can help prevent heart disease.  Growing garlic and knowing how to do it will ensure that you can get the freshest possible ingredients and knowing how to plant it yourself ensures the best results from this fantastic herb.

Garlic is relatively easy to grow, and is mainly grown in mild climates. There are two main types of garlic - hardneck garlic is grown in cooler climates, while softneck is grown in warmer climates, generally closer to the equator. When choosing where to plant your garlic, it is important to place it in full sun. This will make sure your garlic will grow quickly and produce large sized bulbs. Make sure you plant it in an area that is not prone to waterlogging or your bulbs will be in danger of rotting over the winter.

The best time to plant garlic is in mid-October, although you can plant it earlier in some warmer climates. Dig the soil deeply (roughly a spade's length) in order to ensure you don't get waterlogged bulbs. Sand can be used to improve drainage, while it is advisable to add bonemeal every square metre.

For planting garlic in mid spring, the best variety is probably White Pearl. These can be purchased from your local nursery/garden centre (earlier spring planted garlic can be purchased from the supermarket). There will be approximately twenty bulbs, each of which have to be individually planted. Make sure you remove the outer skin of the bulb and not the cloves. Each clove should be planted roughly four inches or ten centimetres apart.

Maintaining Growth

how to grow garlic

In order to maintain the growth of your garlic, add general-purpose fertiliser around late March and mid-May. If at all possible, adding fertiliser once or twice a month will achieve the best results. Make sure your garlic is free of weeds and in drier conditions they will require more water. This maintenance should mean your garlic would be ready for harvest around mid-August.

When harvesting your garlic, it is essential to know when to harvest it - too soon and your bulbs will be too small, too late and the bulbs will split and be of insufficient quality. The key sign is when the foliage turns yellowy-brown - this is the ideal time to start harvesting your garlic. In wet summers this can prove a bit more problematic - if left in the soil too long the bulb can become diseased. This is when you must check the sheaths (papery layer) around the bulb.

If there are only three layers, you can leave it a bit longer. Four or more and it's the ideal time to reap your garlic. When removing from the soil, use your trowel gently or you will be in danger of bruising your garlic. Before using your garlic it should be washed and dried, and then stored either outside away from rain or indoors. These bulbs should last around three months in good condition.

If growing outside is not practical, then how else can you grow garlic? Another option is to grow it inside a pot or other suitable container. The ideal time to grow garlic in a container is in mid-October, but you can do so up until mid-April. Place a single upright clove in a 13 by 5cm pot. Keep in a sunny position and (if planting in mid-October) keep away from cold winds. The best spot is inside the house, right at the edge so the plant can get the maximum sunlight, allowing for the biggest, healthiest bulbs. From early June, feed with general purpose plant food every two weeks.

Growing Garlic How To