How to Grow Garlic

garlic

Now is the time I start planting garlic. According to the search stats finding my blog recently, the topic of how to grow garlic seems be quite popular. Planting times, growing and harvesting garlic appears to be causing confusion to some, so I thought I’d put this guide together. I’m not an expert by any means, but it might be useful to those searching the internet looking for information.

When to plant garlic:

I tend to plant garlic during November or December, but you can plant from October right up until early spring, if conditions are right. Reasonably well-drained soil is perfect for autumn planting, and this gives your garlic a longer growing season to produce bigger bulbs. If your soil tends to be too claggy for autumn planting, try starting garlic off in small pots of compost instead, leave them outside your back door or anywhere they won’t blow away! Plant your pots of sprouting garlic out in early spring once soil conditions are right.

growing garlic in a raised bed

Where to buy garlic:

Ideally you should use seed garlic for planting, and this can be bought from many places nowadays. It’s not actually little seeds that you are going to plant, but pre-grown bulbs from disease-free stock. Seed garlic usually come in packs of 2 or 3 bulbs. The usual way to purchase seed garlic would be via a seed merchant catalogue or specialist websites (more choice with varieties), but many more places offer what we need to grow our own, such as DIY chain stores (B&Q for example) and local garden centres, even supermarkets such as Waitrose are recognising the increased interest in kitchen and allotment gardening.

planting garlic

How to plant garlic:

An open sunny site with free draining soil is best. Split the seed garlic into individual cloves before planting, each one of these cloves will grow into a new bulb. I space each clove by stretching my thumb and forefinger apart and place the clove on top of the soil, it’s a rough planting distance but it works for me. Once I’m happy with my rows I make holes with a dibber and place the cloves in the holes, pointy end upper-most. Cover over with soil, the garlic tips should be hidden just below the surface.

Newly planted garlic can be disturbed by birds. To combat this problem I cover my raised beds with wire mesh frames, which simply sit on top and prevent anything from gaining access to the bed until lifted. The frames are easy to make from scraps of wood and chicken wire.

veg frames for raised beds

When to harvest garlic:

Garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellow, this is usually early summer, depending on planting time and variety. Lift from the ground using a garden fork. After I harvest my garlic I lay the bulbs over the side of a raised bed to allow worms to free themselves from the roots and drop back into the soil below, before dark I take them in from the garden and place somewhere dry to complete the drying process, such as a greenhouse or a shed.

drying garlic bulbs

How to store garlic:

Allow the bulbs to fully dry out before storing, when the bulbs are fully dry they’ll be papery white and rustle when touched. Now you can plait them together if you wish using the stems, or place in a net bag for storing. Trim excess roots.

garlic plait

I store my bulbs in an unheated greenhouse over winter, bringing bulbs to the house when needed. A cool, dry shed or garage would do.

Grow Your Own Parsnips

If you’re new to vegetable growing perhaps you’ve found parsnips tricky to grow? So far (touch wood) I’ve had good results with growing parsnips so I thought I’d share some tips on how I grow them:

  • Buy seed fresh every growing season to increase germination success, germination is generally slow.
  • Sow from March onwards, direct into the ground (once the soil has warmed) just under the surface of the soil, thin seedlings down to 6 inches apart. Parsnips are a root vegetable, they don’t appreciate being disturbed so it’s best to sow them where they are to grow (although you could start them off earlier in toilet roll tubes if you prefer).
  • Well drained, fairly deep and stone-free soil is ideal. Growing parsnips in raised beds makes it easier to control the desired depth and soil conditions that parsnips require.
  • Choose a sunny spot to sow seed, allowing plenty of space between rows. This will make lifting them easier later on.
  • Don’t sow on a windy day, the papery seed will fly everywhere!

I use Mr Fothergills ‘Gladiator’ seed, a canker resistant variety (the main problem for parsnips). I highly recommend this variety from growing experience. I don’t ‘chit’ my parsnip seed before sowing (placing seed on moist kitchen paper until they sprout), I haven’t found germination a problem with the variety I grow. Parsnips can be left in the ground until the following February/March, frost will sweeten the flavour so don’t worry about them getting chilly!

There’s still time to sow parsnips for your Christmas dinner. Happy parsnip growing!

If you found this post helpful let me know, I’d be happy to do more on other vegetables!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,653 other followers

%d bloggers like this: