Planting garlic

Garden Life
Garlic is a bulbous plant which lends a unique taste to every dish. However, it also divides opinions: there are garlic lovers and those who prefer to avoid the strongly smelling bulb. Those who like garlic can plant their own without a great deal of effort.

Garlic can be planted from April to August, and would generally be considered a winter task. However, early varieties can be planted in Autumn, and if you have allium rust in your area, getting your garlic in early will allow the bulbs to fatten up before rust spores appear.

Garlic likes a sunny location, with well drained soil and should be watered often, however stagnant moisture is to be avoided. Garlic will thrive in a well drained fertile soil that is nutrient rich with compost. At the site of the garlic itself, no other bulbous plants, such as onions, chives or leek should have been growing for the previous two to three years. Otherwise the soil has too few nutrients which the garlic needs to grow. 

Growing garlic is easy. It's always best to buy a bulb from a good nursery over using one bought from the supermarket. Choose the largest cloves of the bulb and plant them individually just below the surface about 2.5cm deep with the tips of the cloves pointed upwards. Planting the cloves too deep will cause the clove to rot. The distance between rows should be approximately 15 to 18cm apart. Soon the cloves grow roots and long narrow leaves appear.  

To prevent possible failures over winter due to too much moisture, it is recommended that you cover the beds with straw. Your crop should be ready to harvest towards the end of spring, approximately six months after planting. When the green leaves start turning yellow, you know it's ready to harvest. Lift the bulbs during a dry spell and leave them to dry in the shade to preserve their flavour. Then brush off the dirt and store in a dry cool place.

Finally, a few more facts: Common garlic is a herbaceous plant and reaches growth heights of 30 to 90cm. The deciduous leaves are up to 15mm wide. Garlic reached Europe from Asia via the Mediterranean and is used as a medicinal and culinary herb.