Growing Garlic

When growing garlic, try planting it close to roses - it's said to enhance the perfume.

Now I don't know if that's because the garlic smells and so anything that's vaguely aromatic will smell that much better...

No - garlic doesn't smell bad when it's growing – that was a joke.

Growing garlic under peach trees will help prevent leaf curl it's said – that’s serious – so’s the bit about the roses – but not the smell.

So you don't need to grow garlic just in the herb garden.

It grows quite tall - 2 feet plus (60cm or more) and looks a bit like an onion top - it has a flower, which you need to nip out when you see it appearing.

Growing Garlic

Select a sunny, sheltered site - garlic likes fertile, well drained soil.

Peel off individual cloves and plant them flat end down - about 2 in (5 cm) deep and 6 in (15 cm) apart - leave 1 ft (30cm) between rows.

Now the traditional time to plant garlic was early Spring but garlic is hardy and it's possible to plant it in late autumn instead.

If you want garlic all year round, then plant one lot early autumn and another lot mid spring - harvest the garlic when all but 6 leaves have died down.

The autumn planting will mature in summer and the spring planting will mature in late autumn.

That should give you enough bulbs of garlic to see you through the winter and some spares to plant next season.

Keep the growing garlic well watered until the leaves begin to die off – at that point, stop watering them and you’re probably about 10 days from harvesting. Leave until the outer leaves have died down to 6 in number before lifting and ‘curing’.

Don’t let all the leaves die off or the garlic will have no ‘wrappers’ – the topmost leaves will be the ‘wrappers’ on the garlic.

Drying Garlic

Lift the garlic bulbs, clean off the soil and lay them on the ground with their roots in the sun. It’s best not to wash them if you can help it – that’s why you need to stop watering before harvesting.

If the sun shines, then leave them out for a day or so then move them into the shade.

Hang somewhere dark after the initial drying phase – take off any dead leaves and just hang in a frost free place – shed, garage or similar.

Tie about 10 or so bulbs together and hang in a dark airy place.

After they are completely dried, then remove the roots to about an inch and then store.

I have once tried growing it indoors, but the pot was probably too small - I’m sure it could be done, but pick a big plant pot if you’re going to give it a go – also bear in mind that the leaves grow very tall.

It is far better to grow a few more bulbs that you think you'll need, dry them and store them for out of season use.

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› Growing Garlic

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