How to Grow Garlic

How to grow garlicGarlic is a staple ingredient in many of your home-cooked meals, so why not start growing your own today? The flavoursome plant is one of the oldest horticultural crops with both Indian and Egyptian cultures using it around 5,000 years ago. It can grow wildly in warmer climates but can also be planted and harvested in the UK with relative ease.

Garlic cloves can be used in a variety of different ways when you cook and there's a huge range of great recipes to try once you start growing yours. Plus, it's known to have plenty of health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart attacks, restricting cancerous cell growth and relieving osteoarthritis symptoms.

Whether you're a garlic lover or you just want a new fun plant for your outdoor space, you can get started today when you follow the garlic growing stages below.

When to plant garlic

The window for growing garlic is wide. We recommend planting garlic anytime from October to March, so it's ready for harvesting between June and August.

When you plant your garlic will depend on the type of soil you use. Lighter soil allows for planting in late autumn or early winter while heavy soil is better suited for planting in early spring.

How to plant garlic

The secret to growing great garlic is to buy bulbs from a reputable garden centre or online seed supplier. Don't use supermarket garlic because of the risk of virus infection. Once you've bought your bulbs, break them up into individual cloves, leaving the papery husks on. Then plant them in fertile soil in a warm, sunny place. Place the larger end roughly 2.5cm beneath the surface of your soil (with the pointed end facing up) and make sure each clove is 10-15cm apart in rows around 30cm from one another.

Caring for garlic while it grows

You'll be pleased to learn that garlic requires little care and attention during growth. It just needs regular watering during spring and early summer. Reduce the watering when the leaves start to turn yellow as this is a sign that they're close to reaching maturity. Be vigilant with weeds too and remove them by hand if they're close to your garlic plant. This is because they can absorb water and stunt the growth.

As with most crops, there are various threats to a successful harvest. Here are some problems you may encounter with suggested quick fixes:
  1. Birds – they may try to eat your sown garlic cloves, so cover the growing area with a cloche or netting.
  2. Onion white rot – this can be hard to spot but yellowing, wilting foliage close to harvest time is usually a sign. If this occurs, the clove may have fluffy fungus and you won't be able to consume it. There is no direct cure, so remove the affected garlic plant immediately to prevent the rot from spreading to nearby crops.
  3. Leek rust – fungal infections such as leek rust occur in wet weather. You can tell if your plants are affected by looking for orange spots on the leaves. Water the plants at soil level and not over foliage as the disease spores thrive on leaves with a layer of moisture. Make sure you remove affected crops to stop the spread.

When and how to harvest garlic

Around nine months is how long it takes garlic to grow. You can tell when it's ready to harvest because the leaves will turn yellow. Depending on the sowing month, this tends to be between June and August. You can remove the bulbs by lifting them out gently with either a fork or trowel. Once removed, leave them to dry for a few days on a table or tray in sunlight.

You can now store them in a dry, cool place in your home or use them right away for cooking.

Advantages of growing garlic in a polytunnel

  1. Helps protect your garlic from birds, pests and diseases
  2. Weather control to ensure a consistent temperature and cover from rain or snow
  3. Shade is cast on your plants, which can prevent weeds from growing
  4. Extended growing season to boost the chances of a successful harvest

Find a polytunnel for your outdoor space today

If garlic is the next crop on your list, don't leave its growth to chance and invest in a quality polytunnel. We have plenty of polytunnel sizes available, so you can find a suitable choice for your outdoor space. What's more, we also stock cloches, polytunnel replacement covers and other accessories.

If you have any questions about our products, contact our helpful team by ringing 01282 811250, requesting a call back or dropping us an email. Don't forget to check our growers' blog too for handy tips to take your gardening to the next level.
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