What is Garlic?
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a bulb that can be broken down into cloves and planted as an annual crop. Part of the Amaryllidaceae family which is the onion family, alongside shallots, leeks, and chives, the garlic was originally from Central Asia. The garlic plant has flat, grey green leaves and prefers well drained soil that is in a full sun position. There are 2 types of garlic, soft and hard necked. The soft neck varieties are more suited to warm temperate regions and do not usually flower, where as hard necked varieties are more suited for cool to cold areas, that will flower. Some common garlic bulbs that are grown in gardens are the Australian White and the Purple Stripe. Once you have organised where you are going to plant your garlic and prepared the soil by digging through compost or well broken down manure, plant each clove with the point end facing up. It can take up to 8 months for a crop to be ready. Garlic needs the transition between short day lengths (Winter) to long day lengths (Summer) in order to form bulbs, which is why garlic grown in sub-tropical areas often produces lovely green tops, but small bulbs. Usually late Spring early Summer the leaves and the flower (hardneck) will start to yellow and die. This is the time to harvest. If the bulb is shallow you can simple pull it out with the plant other wise use a hand trowel. Clean all the dirt off and set aside to dry out.
Benefits of Growing Garlic
Garlic is a valuable and tasty source of Vitamins A, B1, B2 & C. It is a useful medicinal food, with proven anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. It is also a wonderful companion plant for roses and fruit trees as it will repel pests such as aphids and white fly. Garlic can be used to make a natural garden pest repellent by mixing finely chopped garlic with grated soap and water. Strain and spray in a hand sprayer. Young shoots can be eaten or used as a garnish.
How to Grow Garlic
Cool to temperate. Choose the right type of garlic to grow in your climate zone.
Height: 1.2m, Width: 10-15cm
When To Plant Garlic
Plant in Autumn.
Garlic prefers well drained friable soil, if soil is too heavy, bulbs will be poorly shaped. Dig compost or well broken down manure into the soil prior to planting. Apply a fertiliser such as Blood and Bone or Dynamic Lifter at planting time and again after flowering.
How To Plant Garlic
Plant in full sun to semi shade, 10-15cm apart with the bulb at a depth of 5cm below the soil surface. When planting break garlic bulb into cloves. Plant each clove with the pointed end facing up.
Garlic Plant Care
Regular watering is essential for optimum bulb production. Water your garlic regularly during the growing season especially in Spring. Stop watering once the tops of the foliage start yellowing.
A layer of mulch around each plant keeps weeds down and moisture in your soil. Garlic hates competition so make sure any weeds that do appear are removed.
Aphids can be a problem so keep an eye out.