Garlic is a long-term crop, often growing for up to 12 months in the same position, so select a garden bed which can be put aside for an entire year for your garlic crop. Select garlic based on your climate and requirements (storage, flavour, use).
- Improve soil prior to planting by incorporating well-rotted compost, manure and organic fertilisers such as rock dust and blood and bone prior to planting. Garlic is a bulb, so good drainage is essential. If your soil becomes damp or waterlogged throughout winter. Mound soil up to improve drainage.
- Split garlic bulbs into their individual cloves. To ensure the best result, select the plumpest cloves for planting out, leaving smaller cloves for the kitchen.
- Plant individual cloves, pointy end upward, in holes 5cm deep and 10-12 cm apart. Space rows 15-20cm apart. Gently backfill and water to settle soil in around each clove.
- Mulch with sugarcane or straw to a depth of 7-10cm. Shoots will push through the mulch so cover the entire area to prevent weed growth during winter.
- Water as required once shoots are around 10cm tall. Garlic prefers a moist, not wet soil. Apply a liquid fertiliser of seaweed (Granular Seaweed Solution) or fish emulsion (Ocean Brew) fortnightly during the growing season to keep garlic healthy and productive.
Garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves begin to dry and there are only 4-5 green leaves remaining. These remaining leaves become the protective skins as cloves dry and harden.
Dig up garlic using a fork or trowel to minimise damage to the bulb. Shake to remove loose soil and hang in clumps in a dry, airy place away from direct sunlight for 1-2 months to allow the bulbs to harden.
Plait garlic or remove excess stalks and store in a dry airy place for up to 12 months depending on variety.
Growing garlic in the tropics?
Garlic is traditionally a cool-climate bulb but it can be grown in the tropics and subtropics. Select ‘Italian Red’ or ‘Italian Late’ for optimal results. Place cloves in the crisper section of the fridge for 10-12 weeks to trick them into thinking they have had a cool-climate winter. Plant cloves 15-20cm deep into the soil (because it is cooler down deeper). Position in an area with protection from the hot afternoon sun. Water and fertilise as per instructions above.