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A staple ingredient in a variety of dishes, garlic, Allium sativum, is easy to grow, bearing strong-flavoured bulbs that last well into autumn.
Garlic falls into two basic types: hardneck and softneck. Hardneck varieties generally produce larger bulbs and have a more intense 'garlicky' flavour than softneck varieties, but don't store as well.
Plant garlic in either spring or autumn – simply separate the cloves of the bulb and plant them individually at a depth of 5cm, spacing them 10cm apart. If you garden on heavier soils, it's worth planting garlic in raised beds, or stating the cloves off in modular trays first, to transplant at a later date.
A softneck variety with purple-tinged bulbs, Allium sativum 'Early Purple Wight' crops as early as mid-May. However it doesn't store as well as other softnecks, so use the bulbs within three months.
Allium ‘Early purple wight’ and wildlife
Allium ‘Early purple wight’ has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.