Focus On... Planting Garlic

Amateur Gardening|February 08, 2020

Focus On... Planting Garlic
Before you crack out the cloves, let Lucy help you with planting, soil conditions and seasonal considerations to ensure you grow and harvest the finest garlic possible…

The organised gardener may have started off their garlic in November, but the rest of us can plant now. There are two main types: softnecks (Allium sativum) and hardnecks (A. sativum var. ophioscorodon), so what kind of care do they need?

Get the best yields

Whole bulbs (heads) should be split into individual cloves just before planting (they dry out excessively, otherwise). Don’t bruise them as this can cause rots. Only plant the largest, plump cloves as these give the biggest yields (pot smaller ones up as garlic chives), positioning them 3in (8cm) deep and roughly 6in (16cm) apart in grids (wider on lighter soils). Site in full sun, and add plenty of organic matter to the plot, plus a little bonemeal. Garlic doesn’t have an extensive root system yet it needs steady moisture and appreciates phosphorus (but not excess nitrogen). Acid soils give poor yields, so lime to raise the pH to neutral. Water every week in dry spells (except two weeks prior to harvest) and keep beds well weeded. Harvest once the foliage is halfdead – any later, and the mature cloves keep growing, hindering storage life.


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February 08, 2020