At this time of year, most of us are not thinking about planting. But there is one crop that, if you didn’t plant in the autumn, you could consider allocating some space to this year. Garlic requires frost to kick-start its growing process, so planting before the last frost is best and there are many varieties that you can happily plant in January or February.
You buy seed garlic in bulbs, so you will need to separate the individual cloves for planting. You should choose a sunny well-drained spot for planting (so those of us with plots at the wetter end of the site will need to plant in raised beds otherwise the seed bulbs will rot). For nice big heads of garlic, the soil should be loose with a good level of nutrients; so fork the soil over well and dig in a couple of buckets of well rotted compost or a general purpose compost from the garden centre (not fresh manure – this should ideally be composted first).
Plant the cloves pointy-end up a couple of inches underground and about 4 to 5 inches apart. Pack the soil down lightly.
The garlic will need watering well in late spring and into summer for nice plump bulbs (but be careful not to overwater!). Stop watering 3 or 4 weeks before your estimated harvesting time (which will vary depending on variety).
Good Luck! – Chicken and 40 cloves of Garlic – Yummm!
This year, most of us growing garlic found it affected by rust which spread through the site during July. Rust is a fungal infection that affects alliums like garlic, onions, shallots and leeks. It is easily recognised and appears as small orange/brown spots that eventually cover the leaves. There are slight variations in the different allium rusts so the infection will often just stick to the allium on which it is found. The fungus is spread by airborne spores so, once present, it will spread to nearby plants fairly quickly.
The bad news is there’s not an easy solution. It is difficult to treat chemically and other remedies suggested have mixed success. The slightly better news is that, although it will limit further bulb growth on affected plants, it doesn’t affect the garlic bulbs which will be perfectly OK to eat – even if the bulbs are a little small. The good news is that this infection has appeared relatively late in the growing season – so those of us that got our garlic in early are pretty close to harvesting the crop in any case,
So, if it is affecting your plants, what should you do?
You can try removing the affected leaves and disposing of them (not in the compost!). The plants will be OK in the ground with just the green stems left but may not grow much more.
Probably the best thing is that you carefully dispose of all the plant debris after you have harvested your garlic this year and try and take precautions next year:
1. Rotate your crop (don’t grow garlic where you have grown it in the last three years)
2. Choose to plant a variety that has a higher resistance to rust
3. Don’t overcrowd your garlic bed. The fungus develops best in hot humid conditions, so allowing space between plants will improve air flow and reduce humidity
4. Grow your garlic in a sunny position as rust does better in conditions of lower sunlight.
If anyone has any other suggestions, please feel free to post them.
Can you use ordinary supermarket garlic as seed? I often have some left over that looks as though it is beginning to sprout.
You can use garlic left over from the shops once but after that the product produced will not grow true and also could harbour disease