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Friday, 7 October 2011

Home grown garlic


With winter approaching it is time to prepare your soil and plant your garlic bulbs for an early start in the spring.  





Growing Cycle

In our northern climate, garlic is planted in October, which sets roots before freeze-up, rests over the winter, resumes growth the following April and is harvested in July or August. Spring planting does not produce satisfactory results.

Site Selection

Pick a location with good soil, drainage, full sun and proximity to water for irrigation. The plot should provide for space rotation, as garlic should not return to the same bed where any allium grew in the last three years.


Rich soil, high in organic matter and full of microorganisms is the key to organic garlic production. Start with loam, if possible. Sandy soil dries out easily and should be avoided. Clay soils can be built up over a number of years with large amounts of compost. In building up the soil, use liberal amounts of organic matter (compost or composted animal manure) and grow green manures and legume crops for plough-down. Wood ash can be sprinkled to provide potassium. Take a soil test to maintain soil balance. A soil pH within the range 6.0-7.5 is acceptable.


Hand planting is preferable. Place the clove vertically in the trench, basal end down (pointy end up) and press it gently into the soil. Mechanical planting devices generally drop the cloves in random fashion, resulting in crooked stems. Cover the garlic by filling the trench, ensuring at least 4 inches of soil cover.


Garlic should be mulched to insulate it against mid-winter thaws and resulting in winter kill. Wait until the ground is frozen, usually November, and then mulch with 4-6 inches of clean straw. The same mulch can be kept on the following summer to help keep down weeds and preserve moisture.

Spring Care

Even before the frost is out of the ground, the garlic spears will be seen poking up through the mulch. Carefully move the mulch away from the row to enable faster thawing and rapid growth.

Bon appeti