horticulturist working throughout west sussex

Growing garlic

Garlic is one of the best vegetables to plant in autumn as it doesn’t need much attention. Garlic grows very easily in well drained soil; however, there is a constant need for weeding. Garlic has small, thin leaves that don’t provide enough coverage to stop weeds from growing. Weeds will absorb any nutrients that you intended for the garlic bulb which will rapidly decrease the growth and size of the garlic bulb.

Before planting your cloves it’s a good idea to cover the area you’re using with organic matter such as compost or manure; this will improve the soils structure, moisture retention and help provide nutrients. I used home-made compost, roughly 3 shovels per every 1m squared; then carefully dig it in to the top inch of the existing soil.

Always buy garlic bulbs from garden centres/online stores. Never use supermarket bulbs, the particular garlic variety might not grow in this climate, the variety could also carry diseases/viruses. I purchased my garlic bulbs from an online store, take a look here. The pack contained four different varieties of autumn planting garlic including: Early Purple Wight, Lautrec Wight, Elephant garlic (the massive cloves!!) and Provence Wight.

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When planting, pull the bulb apart separating any cloves, then dig them in rows. The cloves need to be spaced 6 inches apart and the rows need to be 12 inches apart, this will ensure that each vegetable gets the maximum space to develop. The bulb needs to be placed root down, thinnest part of the clove pointing to the sky; the tip should be left showing and not covered in soil.

Harvest the garlic in mid-summer when the foliage has yellowed and started to die off! Remember that garlic takes a long time to grow so that area of vegetable patch/allotment won’t be free for spring planting for vegetables such as lettuce, spring onions and potatoes.

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