Freshly harvested garlic

Garlic – Grow Guide

Garlic is one of the easiest crops you can grow – find out how in this simple growing guide.

Overview

To enjoy the freshest flavour and juiciest cloves, grow your own garlic. It takes up little space and requires hardly any effort to get great crops. Garlic simply needs a warm, sunny spot with well-drained soil that doesn't get too wet in winter.
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Spacing: 18cm apart 30cm between rows

Depth: 2cm

Avg yield: 17 bulbs per 3m row

Growing garlic from cloves

Sowing and planting

Garlic can be bought for both spring and autumn planting. To grow well, it needs a period of cold weather, so autumn planting is preferable. If you have heavy clay soil, however, it's best to wait until spring. This type of soil tends to hold a lot of water, especially over winter, which can cause the garlic cloves to rot.

To plant, split the bulbs into individual cloves and plant them with the pointed end upwards. Take care not to damage the cloves when separating. Space them about 18cm apart and plant at twice their own depth.

Alternatively, start garlic off by planting cloves singly in module trays in autumn. These can be planted out in spring. If short of space, try growing garlic in containers.

If you garden on clay soil, or a soil inclined to be wet in winter, grow garlic on mounds, 15cm tall and 20cm wide at the base. Plant the cloves in them, 15-20cm apart and 7-10cm deep. The results are usually great, even in very wet weathers.

Tending the crop

Garlic needs little care. Weed between plants to reduce the competition for water and space. Don't panic if the plants produce flowers, because you should still get a crop – it'll just be reduced in size.

Harvesting garlic

Harvest garlic in summer when the leaves turn yellow. In the run up, prepare plants for harvesting by scraping away some of the surrounding soil so sun and air can reach the bulbs and help to dry them out. After preparing, gently lift out bulbs with a fork or trowel.

Storing garlic

Hang bulbs in net bags. Take care not to bruise the bulbs, as any damage can make them deteriorate in storage. Once dry you can either store the bulbs loose or plait their foliage to make a traditional string of bulbs.

Preparation and uses

Crush, slice or finely chop, or roast cloves whole, to add flavour to many dishes.

How to chop and crush garlic - 20-second video demonstration from our friends at olive magazine.

Troubleshooting

Garlic is generally pest free. Garlic can be affected by leek rust, a fungal infection that is more common in wet weather. The garlic bulbs are perfectly safe to eat but affected plants should be harvested immediately to prevent the disease spreading. 
Garlic bulbs

Can you plant supermarket garlic?

It is possible to grow garlic from supermarket bulbs, but it's not recommended as there's a risk of virus infection. If you buy from proper planting stock, it should be virus free. And you can also choose a variety that has been bred especially for our climate.
Plait of harvested garlic
Plait of harvested garlic

Garlic varieties to try

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