A member of the onion family, garlic is highly valued
for its culinary qualities and extremely easy to grow. Although it takes
time to mature, it grows through winter, takes up little space, and is
good in pots.
How to Grow
Garlic needs warmth to ripen and grows best in a sunny site with rich, moist, well-drained soil. Ideally, plant in fall or early winter; spring-planted garlic will produce smaller bulbs because they have less time to mature. Separate the bulb into cloves, and push the largest ones (discarding any tiny ones) into the soil with the points upward; the tips should be just below the surface. Allow 4 inches (10 cm) between cloves, and space rows 8 inches (20 cm) apart. Keep the area around the plants free of weeds and the soil moist, particularly in dry conditions. Check regularly to make sure birds have not pulled out the cloves; if so, push them back into the soil.
Garlic is ready to lift when the leaves turn yellow and wilt. Using a
hand fork, lift the bulbs, and lay them out to dry in the sun, ideally
on wire mesh to allow good airflow. If the weather is wet, dry them
indoors on trays, or hang them up in braids. Once dried, garlic can then
be stored in braids or nets, somewhere cool and well ventilated. If you
prefer, harvest garlic while the stems are still green. This “wet”
garlic has a milder flavor and should be used quickly because it will
Varieties to Try
Supermarket garlic can be unreliable. Bulbs supplied by nurseries are
virus-free and are bred to suit local conditions. Culinary bulbs are
grown in warmer regions and won't tolerate cool growing conditions.
Try these varieties:
- ‘Californian Late’
- ‘Early Wight’
- ‘Early Purple Wight’
- ‘Solent Wight’
- ‘Spanish Roja’
Watch Out for These Diseases
Onion white rot causes foliage to wilt and bulbs to become moldy and rotten. It affects all members of the onion family, including garlic.
Garlic can also be plagued by rust, leaving orange patches on leaves, which wither and die, and weakening
the crop. Avoid planting in damp, shaded areas. There is no chemical
control; remove infected material, and improve airflow.