If you've already planted....

If you've already planted autumn varieties, there is little for you to do for your crop right now as you wait for the first shoots to appear. In the case of Elephant Garlic planted early in the season, you should have a good-sized plant already. Now February is upon us, our Elephant Garlic is about 30-40cm high. A slight yellowing of some of the ends of the leaves is normal at this time of year. Here are our top tips for looking after your garlic in the ground:

- Top-dress with a suitable fertiliser. Late winter to early spring is the best time to apply or re-apply fertiliser, before the bulbs have started to enlarge.

- Keep your plants free from weeds which compete with your garlic plants for available water and nutrients.

- To minimise weed growth and protect your bulbs from the most extreme weather conditions, you can apply a mulch of grass, straw or chopped leaves. Do make sure the ground does not become water logged though as this will make the bulbs rot.

- No need to water too much at this time of year unless your garlic is growing in pots. Make sure you start watering regularly when the sun starts to appear as your bulbs growth will be hampered if allowed to dry out at all.

If you have yet to plant....

The best varieties to plant right now are the spring planting types which include Mersley Wight, Solent Wight & Picardy Wight. Our Spring Planting Pack or Winter Planting Pack are ideal if you want to try out a few different types. You can still have a go at planting heritage garlic varieties and Elephant Garlic although results may be slightly smaller when planted in the spring. Elephant Garlic cloves may still be planted up to end March if only to enjoy their beautiful large round purple flowers.

For spring planting, follow these top tips for the best garlic crop:

- Choose the sunniest position available.

- Garlic favours light, well-draining soils

- Only separate the bulb into cloves just before planting and never remove the papery clove skin.

- You can plant all the cloves in a bulb although larger cloves generally produce larger bulbs. The smallest cloves can be retained for cooking.

Regarding the difference between supermarket garlic and seed garlic.

A question we commonly get asked in our farmshop is 'what exactly is the difference between garlic from the supermarket and so called seed garlic for planting?' 'Why can't I just plant any old garlic and get good results?'

Our garlic (all except some heritage varieties) is what is called 'certified seed' grown from virus and disease free stock. This means it is propagated from virus free sections of the meristem (the very centre of the plant) taken from selections of this garlic type, started in a culture plate in a laboratory and multiplied up over a period of 7 years. This process ensures the following:

- purity if the specific garlic type

- negligible exposure to virus in the bulb stock

- increased vigour and growing potential

This process involves laboratory procedures which are not available in the UK.

For this reason, our seed garlic often originates from Europe. All our seed garlic varieties are developed and trialled at our farm on the Isle of Wight to prove their suitability to U.K. Growing conditions - you can come and visit our trial beds at the farm where each year we are trialling up to 15 varieties and learn more about everything to do with garlic. We're open to visitors all year.