How to grow garlic
Choosing your seed stock
It’s a good idea to try a few different varieties to see what grows well in your region. Look for someone in the same kind of climate to you who grows garlic well and try and get your hands on some of their stock. Places like Diggers Club and Green Harvest have loads of different varieties you can buy, from early varieties to late varieties, hard necks, soft necks etc. Farmers' markets are another great place to find garlic, and meet the grower who has usually had some success!
Personally, we like the purple hard neck garlic varieties. They tend to have good-sized cloves for cooking, great flavour and store well, so they tick a lot of boxes for us. But try a few, see what you like, what grows well and then avoid the temptation of using/sharing it and make sure you keep some to replant.
If you buy garlic from a market, greengrocer or shop, it’s important to make sure it is in good condition. Firm, disease-free and healthy looking. Good quality seed stock will give you the best start.
If you plant poor quality stock it will struggle and from our experience, no amount of fertilizer and love will help.
When to plant?
We’ve planted in February, March, April, May and even June.
Everything we’ve planted, no matter when has grown, the bulbs may be smaller but it's still local garlic, and we like that.
We often have people come up to us at farmers’ markets and say they plant on the shortest day, Easter and other specific times.
We look to our garlic to tell us when it’s ready. It will start to bud towards the top of the clove and indicate it wants to shoot. Some varieties can do this in February others later in the season so try planting when your garlic is budding, or by March. The more leaf growth you can get before winter will give you a stronger plant, more likely to withstand frosts, hail and wind, and anything else nature can throw at it.
Then when spring arrives your plant is well established, large and more likely to give you a bigger bulb.
But if you do leave it late, just plant it and you should be right.