How to Grow Garlic
23 November 2022
How to Plant Garlic
Hardneck vs Softneck Varieties
Garlic is easy to grow and is fairly low maintenance. Usually planted direct into bed, but some varieties can be sown in pots too if you’re short of space. At Kings Seeds, we have a range of hard and soft neck varieties available to order. Softneck is the most common type. It can be stored for longer and has more cloves per bulb compared to hardneck. Hardneck garlic is usually hardier, has a stronger flavour and they produce tall flower spikes, known as ‘scapes’. Most growers snap or cut the scapes off of the plant as soon as they appear to encourage the bulbs to develop larger, but they can be left on and then cooked.
We also have elephant garlic, which is not a true variety. It is more like a leek, but has a milder garlic taste and can be grown the same way. Elephant garlic also produces beautiful large purple flowers in spring.
As soon as your garlic has arrived, store in a cool dry place to prevent the bulbs from sweating, sprouting and deteriorating. We recommend storing them in a seed tray.
Autumn Planting Varieties:
Solent Wight, Mersley Wight, Maddock Wight, Picardy Wight, Provence Wight, Rhapsody Wight, Kingsland Wight, Carcassonne Wight and Elephant.
Spring Planting Varieties:
Solent Wight, Mersley Wight, Picardy Wight and Elephant garlic.
Watch this video of our Seed Expert, Peter Miller plant his garlic!
Garlic is most commonly planted in autumn through to early winter, although some varieties can be planted in spring. Sowing early gives the garlic long enough to develop roots and shoots before the frosts start. It needs a cold period to develop good bulbs, but should try to avoid severe frosts.
In the video above, Peter is planting his garlic early October. Autumn planting varieties can be planted from September to December and spring planting varieties can be sown from January to March.
Peter’s preferred varieties for autumn planting are Caulk Wight (Hard neck) and Rhapsody Wight (Soft neck).
We recommend using a hoe and a crome fork (sometimes known as a drag fork). The tool that is being used here is handmade from a bent over muck fork.
Rejuvenate worn out draw hoe blades to make sure they are still sharp. Peter uses a new blade which is cut from an old carpenters saw, and attached with short gutter bolts.
Preparing the Ground
First, hoe the bed, as this helps to disturb any weed seedlings that may be in the soil. Next, snuvvel the ground to break up any clods of soil and to firm the ground. The last step is to Crome over the ground.
Planting the Garlic
Once the ground has been prepared, you can then draw out a shallow drill. Carefully break up the garlic bulbs into individual cloves or pips. Leave the skin on the bulbs. Plant them in the ground with the root facing down and the pointed end facing upwards. Plant each garlic clove approximately 10cm apart, and then cover with soil at approximately 2.5cm deep. For elephant garlic, increase the spacing to 25cm apart as this grows much larger. Covering the garlic prevents birds and worms from pulling them up. If planting in rows, leave approximately 30cm between each row. After planting, gently crome over the ground again to leave the bed looking tidy and to disturb any new weed seedlings.
From March, fertilise the crops using Sulphate of Potash fertiliser every 6 weeks, and weed. As the temperature begins to heat up around April and May, make sure that the crops are watered.
If planting hardneck varieties, then these will produce purple flower spikes. To grow your garlic to it’s fullest potential, we recommend snapping these off as they appear. These are known as scapes and can be cooked and eaten like asparagus.
Planting Garlic into Pots
Garlic can be planted in pots, although usually grown direct into a bed. This is a good option if you do not have much space, or a outdoor garden. Pots can be placed on a sunny windowsill or outside on the patio in a sunny position.
Choose a pot that is at least 15cm deep to allow enough room for the garlic to grow.
For a 15cm pot, plant 3 cloves. For a 25cm pot, plant 8-10 cloves.
Garlic is ready to harvest once when the lower leaves have started to turn yellow. Softneck varieties tend to ‘fall over’ when they are ready to be harvested too.
For autumn planted garlic, this should be ready to harvest in early summer, from the end of May, depending on variety. Spring planted garlic should be ready from mid summer, around July. To harvest carefully dig the bulbs up with a fork. When the garlic is ready, make sure you do not leave them in the ground for too long, otherwise the bulbs will begin to rot.
Dry the garlic bulbs thoroughly before storing. The bulbs can be dried by laying them out in the sun, or keeping them in a dry, warm ventilated area such as a shed or greenhouse. The garlic can take up to 4 weeks to dry completely. Once the bulbs are completely dry, you can cut off the stalks and then store them in a cool, dry place. They can be stored for several months.
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