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    Growing Tips and Advice

How to Grow Garlic

"Plant in Spring, from January to late March to produce wonderfully symmetrical bulbs."

Check out the Garlic Farmer's calendar for a month by month guide on what to do and when

Garlic grows across the UK provided it is grown in a free draining soil that is not too acid and kept well watered and weed free.
Any amateur gardener can grow good garlic.


For a great crop of garlic it is important to start with quality seed.

From here just follow our monthly reminders on the calendar along with the 4 step guide below...

1.

Prepare your soil well. Mix in lots of good compost long before you want to start planting. Make sure you have enough space (six inches between each clove). Plant in an area which will receive maximum sunlight hours.

2.

Break up the bulbs no longer than 24 hours before you plant them being careful not to bruise or damage them. Place cloves 3 - 4cm below the surface, root down (pointy end up) 6 inches apart.

3.

You'll need to water your garlic during dry periods throughout the growing season, stopping watering completely during the last few weeks. Carefully remove any weeds as they appear. In February apply sulphate of potash to your garlic, this gives it all the nutrients it needs to grow.

4.

Garlic will tell you when it is time to harvest. Too early and you’ll miss the final growth spurt, too late and your bulbs will rot in the ground. 

When to harvest Garlic in the UK

Hardneck

Ready to lift when the lower leaves start to change colour from green to yellow/ brown. End of May - end July depending on variety.

Softneck

When the lower leaves start to yellow and fold and the garlic goes “weak at the knees” and begins to lie on the ground. Mid may - mid August depending on variety.

Garlic Types

Elephant Garlic

Follow the same directions as for garlic but increase spacing to 12”. Plant from September.

Wild Garlic

Plant cloves 1 - 2” deep 9 - 12” apart. Keep well watered first year and do not pick any plants. Wild garlic seed heads should also produce viable seed and assist in the spread of your wild garlic area.

Rocamboles

Hardneck types produce beautiful floral spikes. These should be snapped off almost as soon as they appear to encourage the plants resources back down towards the bulb. Also known as scapes these can be sautéed and enjoyed like a garlicky green bean or asparagus or even made into a delicious pesto. 

Hardnecks

Produce a hard flowering spike. Cloves form around a central stem. Varietiesinclude: Purlpe Moldovan, Lautrec Wight, Chesnok Wight, Red Czech & Red Duke Wight (new). Plant harneck garlic types typically in the Autumn for harvest end of June - July. Lautrec Wight suitable for planting until early Spring.

Softnecks

Produce a softer stem with no flowering spike, typically more cloves to a bulb, bunched together in tight circles. Varieties include: Early and Extra Early Purple Wight, Albigensian Wight, Provence Wight, Picardy Wight, Iberian Wight, Tuscany Wight & Solent Wight. Plant September to March - end of April for Picardy Wight. 

Growing Garlic in Pots

Garlic can be successfully grown in pots. Use a fresh standard growing medium. Typically plant 3 cloves to a 6" pot, 6 to an 8" pot and 8 - 10 to a 10" pot. Be sure to use pots with at least 6" depth to allow adequate freedom for the roots. Keep well watered and stand outside on a patio or window ledge.

Never touched a bulb, seed, trowel, watering can? Thought a raised bed was just one of those weird folding mattresses? Check out this brilliant article from our friends at billyoh all about getting started with gardening.

Problems and Common Diseases

Rust

Rust

(puccinia porri) Small orange blisters can appear on the leaves of the plant from may onwards. Regular spraying or watering with sulphur compounds or Dithane will give some protection as will increased levels of sulphate of potash hoed in around the plants in February.

onionfly

Onion Fly

Presence is typically shown by growth halting and the neck of the plant thickening. The plant then dies. The onion fly lays its eggs close to or on the plant. When hatched the maggot (in appearance) bores into the bulb and it collapses. If plants die for no apparent reason, lift affected plants. Keeping the soil around the plants well cultivated from March - May will give some protection.

whiterot

White Rot

Occurs where there is a history of continuous allium cultivation as it is soil borne. Plants fade away in April - June bulb becomes white dust. As disease progresses a white cottony fungal growth with black dots becomes visible. Destroy all infected material and do not grow alliums in infected area for at least 15 years.

eelworm

Stem & Bulb Eel Worm

Often mistaken for “White Rot” or “Onion Fly” a few plants will fade April - June followed by more and more. A soil-borne nematode hosted by other garden plants. Some control can be achieved by using “Jeyes Fluid” on the soil  pre-planting.