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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.