Browsing Tag


Vegetable Garden

Planting Garlic (Allium sativum) Cloves in the Autumn

October 18, 2010

Garlic is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and takes just a few simple steps.

How to Grow Your Own Garlic - Step by Step Guide

Three bulbs of garlic can divide into 30 – 50 individual cloves. Every clove you plant should develop into a new bulb in just a few months. That’s a year’s worth of garlic for your kitchen growing in less than two metres of space. It makes sense to give it a go doesn’t it?

Garlic Growing Tips

As with onions, garlic prefers a sunny site in soil that has not been freshly manured.

Garlic doesn’t like heavy or badly drained soil or it may rot. If you’ve got heavy soil you could try planting cloves into individual module trays in the autumn, that you remove and transplant into the soil in the Spring.  Alternatively plant your garlic in large containers.

Garlic takes a long time to grow and most types need cool temperatures of about 0ºc – 10ºc (32ºf – 50ºf) for a month or so to fully mature. If you plant it in the autumn/fall, you can expect to harvest your garlic around mid summer. Check whether the garlic variety you have bought is for Autumn or Spring planting.

It’s important to buy bulbs from reputable suppliers as they’re likely to have been certified disease free.  If you do this you can pretty much guarantee they will grow well for you and you can plant next years crop from bulbs you’ve saved.

How to plant garlic

Prepare the soil by removing all the weeds, roots and all, then remove any large stones and finally rake until the surface of the soil is smooth. Bulbs usually come in packets of three. Split the bulbs into individual cloves.

How to grow your own garlic - step by step guideLay the cloves on the top of the soil in a line, spacing them between 10cm (4in) to 18cm (7in) apart. Check the packet of the bulbs for more specific spacing guidelines relevant to the variety you’ve chosen. Once they’re all laid out in place, begin to plant the cloves up to 10 cm (4in) deep in sandy soils, or 2.5 in (1 in) in heavier. If you lay the cloves out on top of the soil before planting them, you’ll be able to see where you bury them as you move along the line. How to Grow Your Own Garlic - Step by Step GuideIt will also give you a second chance to check that you’re planting them the right way up. If your soil is in any way heavy use a dibble to make the hole and do not force the clove in – it’s easy to damage the clove if treated roughly.

Once in the ground garlic doesn’t need much looking after other than weeding.  When the leaves have turned yellow, usually around June to August, use a fork to loosen and dig up the bulbs and leave them to dry for a couple of weeks, preferably outside if it’s sunny, or inside in an airy place if not.  When the bulbs are fully dry they can be plaited or stored in a frost-free, dry place.  Depending upon the variety grown, garlic will keep for up to a year.

Here’s how Dee plant’s it at home, and where she shares a few tips about bulb dormancy and the need for some cooler temperatures needed to enable to clove to become a bulb.

Have you grown your own garlic before? Are you tempted to give it a go? It’s surprisingly easy and very satisfying.

Vegetable Garden

How to Grow Your Own Overwintering Onions

October 13, 2010
How to Grow Overwintering Onions

Onions and parsnip seedlings

Following on from 10 reasons why you should grow your own onions, here’s a post about how to grow overwintering varieties (planted in the Autumn).

Something to remember if you’re aiming for a year round supply of Alliums:

  • Overwintering onions will not be ready to harvest until early to mid-summer and don’t tend to store as well as onions that are sown in the spring (although they can be diced and frozen).
  • They do fill the gap (spring planted sets are usually ready late summer to autumn and will store until mid-spring the following year if stored well). Some people grow shallots to fill any gaps as they store particularly well.

1.  Find a supply

Luckily with the trend in grow your own building, finding a supplier is getting easier.  I bought two varieties, Radar and Senshyu Yellow in a local garden centre who were selling several varieties.  Priced at just €1.75 for 50, sets are generally considered easier to grow and less prone to disease (although they often bolt or run to seed).  Sets are also available on-line.

2.  Prepare the ground

Avoid planting onions in soil that’s been freshly manured or they will be too lush. I’ve planted mine in the patch that I’d manured for potatoes at the beginning of the year. Onions also prefer soil that has a fairly neutral pH of 6 to 7 so test it with a pH kit (easy to do, just follow instructions on the packet) and add lime as per instructions on the box if it’s very acidic. Avoid planting them where onions have grown in the last three to four years to prevent pests and diseases.

Use a marker to measure distance.

3. Position the Onions

Planting onionsI find it easier to place all the onions in position and then plant them.  I usually follow the recommended planting depths and distances on the packet but if I don’t have a packet usually plant them about 7-8 in apart each way.  The two packs I planted today recommended 5 in apart.

I then use a marker snapped to the correct length and a rake handle (or bamboo cane) laid across the bed as a marker.
(spot the health & safety hazard!)

From experience I’ve found it easier to place all the bulbs before planting so that I can see where they all are! It also gives me a second chance at checking that they’re the right way up.  The bottom of the bulb is usually flatter and the tip pointed.

4.  Plant the onion sets.

10 reasons to grow your own onionsOnions are sown quite high in the soil, about an inch deep, as opposed to garlic which is planted deeper.

If your soil is quite firm avoid pushing the bulb into it as you may damage it.  Use a dibber or a stick to loosen the soil first.

5.  Label.

Once you’ve planted all your sets, label them with the variety and date and watch them grow.

6. Aftercare

Keep an eye on the sets and re-plant them if birds dislodge them.

Ensure the soil is kept watered if there’s a dry spell.

Keep the soil weeded (which is much easier at this time of year as they’re not growing as quickly, if at all).<

In the spring you can add a seaweed-based feed which is full of nutrients and minerals to give your plants a boost.

7.  Pests and Diseases

If you’re prone to onion fly (where small maggots attack the seedlings), you can grow them under fine netting. Unfortunately you wont know you’re prone until you’ve experienced them!

There are no organic remedies for mildews and rots of onions (which will be worse in damp weather) that I’m aware of.

All that’s left of our summer crop, oh no!

8.  Harvesting

onions drying

You can lift and use the onions as you need them once they’re a reasonable size.  If you’re hoping to store them, wait until the foliage dies down and the tops bend naturally (see blog in September).


For more information about growing onions from seed, see the YouTube clip below: