We love garlic and use it pretty much every day in the kitchen, so ‘G’ just had to be garlic in our ‘Allotment A-Z’. Last year we had great success with some very tasty garlic called Spanish Roja (an over-winter hardneck variety that packs a huge flavour punch), so we decided to grow it again this year!
We saved some bulbs and planted out the biggest cloves last autumn and now, here we are in spring, and the garlic is looking good. I’m loving the great circle of life…
- Variety Spanish Roja (autumn planting), Solent White & Elephant (autumn or spring planting).
- Plant In situ or in pots. Late-autumn, early-winter or early spring in well-drained, fertile soil. Pointy tips up. 5-10cm deep. 20x20cm or in rows.
- Grow Keep weed free. Water only in hot, dry weather – dislikes waterlogged soil.
- Harvest Early-summer. Make ‘plaits’ to dry & store your bulbs.
- Biodynamic tips Plant and harvest on root days with a descending moon.
- Natural remedies Benefits from a wood ash and/or comfrey mulch. Equisetum ‘tea’ deters mildew.
Planting guide by Homegrown Kate www.homegrownkate.com
There are loads of different varieties of garlic and all are easy to grow and fun to try. Our original Spanish Roja bulbs were ordered online as I couldn’t find this particular variety in any of my local nurseries or garden centres, but you can pick up standard garlic bulbs pretty much anywhere.
Whole bulbs will need splitting into individual cloves before planting and each clove you plant will grow into a whole new bulb. You’ll need 4-5 bulbs (around 36 big healthy cloves) to fill a standard 4ft x 4ft (1.2m x 1.2m) raised bed.
Planting: Spanish Roja is an over-winter garlic that needs the cold weather to form bulbs, so the best time to plant these cloves is in late-autumn to early-winter. Most garlics benefit from an autumn planting, but many are also fine to plant in early spring. Sowing and growing requirements will be the same, but harvesting will be a little later for spring-sown varieties.
- Garlic loves a warm site in full sun with well-drained, fertile soil.
- Plant your cloves straight into the soil with the pointy tip facing up, around 5-10cm deep.
- Space them 20cm x 20cm apart.
- Once you’ve planted out the autumn cloves, just leave them be. You should start to see some greenery by mid-winter and may need to protect them from birds or mice with some twigs or netting laid over the top. Our chickens were particularly interested!
- Hoe to remove weeds.
- Water only in really dry, hot weather. Garlic does not like waterlogged soil.
- You’ll know when your garlic is ready for harvesting when the leaf tips start to go yellow. For over-winter garlic this is usually around early summer.
- Using a garden fork, gently dig up your bulbs.
- We cut off the roots, but leave the stems so we can make garlic ‘plaits’. This is a great way to dry and store your bulbs for the months to come.
Biodynamic Tips: To make use of these tips you’ll need a biodynamic or lunar gardening calendar. More information about biodynamic gardening can be found here.
- All work is carried out on a root day.
- Plant out when the moon is descending to encourage super-strong root formation.
- Hoe and weed when the moon is descending.
- Harvest when the moon is descending, so that all the energy and goodness of the plant is drawn down into the bulbs (the bit you’re going to eat!)
Natural Remedies: Wood ash and comfrey mulch make great fertilisers, but garlic doesn’t need much. Equisetum (horsetail) ‘tea’ prevents mildew.
Health Benefits: We love growing garlic on the allotment and cook with it pretty much every day. Garlic is full of antioxidants and has powerful antiseptic properties, it can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and is fantastic for your immune system – it’s good stuff!
Recipes: Spanish Roja is a strong flavour-filled garlic and a fantastic ingredient in our cooking, but any type of garlic will work in these recipes. Here are some of our homegrown recipes for you to try…