If you are considering or planning to frow garlic this year, now is the time to get it in the ground.
Garlic can be planted in autumn, in March to May, for harvesting in late spring-summer, usually late November into December. Planting in autumn gives a nice, long head start for the garlic to grow.
The biggest bulbs are formed by planting in early autumn, however planting too early will result in bulbs rotting.
There are two types of garlic: soft neck and hard neck. Just like they sound, the soft neck variety has a pliable centre stem and the hard neck variety has a rigid stem.
The main difference is that the hard necks have more flavour, but do not keep in storage as long and tend to only last about four months. Soft necks are often what you'll buy in the grocery store and can keep closer to six months.
Be sure to purchase your garlic bulbs from reputable suppliers who haven't treated the garlic with growth retardants and chemicals. The best garlic varieties are those that have been grown locally; local nurseries have supplies and farmers' markets are also a good choice.
You can plant the cloves when begin to show shoot development in the centre of the clove. Some cloves may have sprouted and can be planted right away, or you can slice open a clove to see if the green shoots have started to form.
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Garlic likes well-drained, deep, rich, loose, loamy soil and does best in 6-8 hours of sun per day. Morning sun will dry the leaves quickly and minimise the risk of leaf diseases.
To plant your garlic, pull all the cloves on the head apart and plant each clove 2-3cm deep and about 10-15cm apart. Planting further apart will give bigger bulbs.
Cover with mulch, grass clippings, or straw to limit weeds, help maintain soil moisture and for a bit of winter protection.
Garlic will develop its roots before it produces leaves, which may not appear for several weeks. The plants grow over winter and die down in late spring ready to harvest in November or December.
Continue planting leeks and sow winter varieties of lettuce every 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply.
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