Garlic

Camilla Lazzar's hints on growing and harvesting garlic

Planting garlic

Garlic can be planted in autumn, for harvesting in late spring-summer.

When you are planting your garlic, break apart the bulb into individual cloves and plant pointy end up, approximately 7cm apart. Cover with approximately 2-7cm of soil (deeper in warmer climates, shallower in cooler climates, or as per packet recommendations). Garlic requires well drained, enriched (well rotted animal manure/compost) soil in full sun. Additional lime is also beneficial in soils with a neutral to low pH.

The biggest bulbs are formed by planting early autumn, however planting too early will result in bulbs rotting. You can plant garlic when cloves begin to show shoot development in the centre of the clove. You will need to slice open a clove to observe this development.

Garlic needs the transition between short days lengths (winter) to long days lengths (summer) in order to form bulbs, which is why garlic grown in sub-tropical areas often produces lovely green tops, but small bulbs.

Water your garlic regularly during the growing season especially in spring. You can also fertilise it with well a balanced fertiliser. When the foliage begins to brown off, cut back on the water and fertiliser. This usually happens from November onwards.

Harvest

Harvest garlic when there are 4-5 green leaves left, these leaves become the protective 'skins' needed for good storage. Another 'harvest time' sign is when stems become soft and wilted at the base. Hang harvested garlic in a dry position with good ventilation to allow bulbs to ‘harden’ and leaves to dry. Garlic should keep in a dark, dry place for about 6 months.

Garlic year round

To extend garlic availability it is good to plant both an early (Italian Red) and late (Silver Skin) variety. Russian Garlic also has the ability to store for up to 9 months. In addition to garlic bulbs you can also grow garlic shoots. Shoots are best grown by using the smallest unwanted cloves planted in a separate bed that can be continually harvested.

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Camilla Lazzar

A highly experiences fruit, vegie and ornamental gardener with a BAppSc in Horticulture from Melbourne University, Camilla worked with Diggers for over 20 years and headed up our bulb, seed and plant departments.
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