Care and Cultivation of Garlic
Planting out Garlic
Plant cloves in late autumn or early spring. Set 2.5cm (1in) deep and 10cm (4in) apart. Leave 15-20 cm (6-8in) between rows. Garlic needs a cold, dormant period which is why it is best planted in the autumn. The long growing season is beneficial to the ripening process.
Plant with the base of the clove, the flattest part, on the bottom of the hole with at least 2.5cm (1in) of soil above the tip. Take care not to press the clove too firmly into the soil as this reduces root development.
Garlic prefers an open sunny position and well-drained soil. Do not plant in ground where onions have been planted the previous year. Keep free of weeds during the growing season. Mulch in spring to suppress weeds and water if necessary.
Garlic can also be grown in containers during the winter and planted out in spring. Ensure the container has good drainage and use a moisture retentive soil. Water regularly and place the container in a sunny position.
As soon as the leaves turn yellow you can begin to harvest; lift carefully with a fork and then leave to dry in the sun if the weather is warm or indoors if the weather is wet. Handle gently as they are easily bruised. Do not delay harvesting as this can cause the bulbs to shrivel.
Plant Elephant Garlic following the same directions as for garlic, but increase the spacing to 30cm (12in). They make attractive plants 120-150cm (4-5ft) tall with a purple flowering head. Plant from September, though planting up to March is possible but the likelihood of the clove producing one ’solo’ bulb is increased. To gain the largest Elephant Garlic bulbs, snip off the flowering head when it emerges. These can be used in cooking. Harvest the Elephant Garlic before the bulb begins to split. This is usually from mid June to the beginning of July.