Grow, garlic, grow!

It’s garlic planting season, and here’s how to plant garlic based on what I’ve learned and done in my own terrace garden.

Vallelado garlic cloves for planting

After a bit of searching for garlic to plant online, I found a lovely company called Chase Organics – their site is called The Organic Gardening Catalogue. October/November seems to be the time for garlic planting, so I ordered 150g of Vallelado Garlic, which happens to be three adult garlic bulbs. After doing this, I did find out that you can plant the bulbs from the grocery, but I’m happy to order fresh organic stuff over using the supermarket garlic. Neil and I receive a weekly organic vegetable box from Riverford and last Friday’s delivery included garlic, so I planted one of those today too, just to see any differences.

To plant garlic, you must separate the garlic bulbs carefully, taking care not to bruise the tender cloves, which could lead to rot in the ground. Each clove can be planted – pointed end up – but make the big ones your priority. Avoid anything that looks less good than one you’d pop into your mouth right then and there. There is no need to peel the papery covering off each clove (a question I had a hard time finding the answer to online), so don’t bother removing it.

Below: a rejected core of a bulb… not planted and won’t be eaten.
Rejected core of a bulb.

Your soil should be regular ‘ol fertile soil, but not too acidic. I have read that soil PH should be above 6.7, though I didn’t check mine. I used stuff I got for vegetable planting from the garden centre and assume it’s going to be suitable. I also read that heavier soils can produce larger garlic, which is good for me because I reckon my soil is a bit on the heavy side…

Your cloves should be planted about 6″ apart, at a depth of 1 – 2″ deep. Since I’m planting in flower boxes and a pot, the row distance of 18″ isn’t really applicable to my situation, so I planted in a zig-zag spacing to give every clove around 5 – 6″ space from the next. I decided that I know what a garlic bulb looks like in size – I had just handled several, you know – and went by that as a rough guide to my spacing.
Bulb size + extra space all around = good enough for me.

Spacing my garlic cloves

Garlic is planted in cold weather and lifted from the soil in about seven months time, give or take. My crop will be ready in July, by the book. It’s possible that the garlic you plant (or that I planted) will flower, and that’s not a desirable thing as it sneaks away resources that should be fattening your cloves below. Get rid of the flowering bit, if you get one. The garlic itself can be harvested/lifted when about half a dozen of the outer leaves go yellow. Then let the bulbs dry in the sun or where they get warm, dry air (perhaps a windowsill). After a few days drying, you have garlic! Make some pasta and celebrate with some of your crop!

Below: tags I made out of waste plastic and a Sharpie marker. Clove numbers for reference.
Garlic tags

I’m no gardener, it must be said, but I love garlic and thought I might write this out in case it helps anyone else. Fingers crossed, I’ll have months of deliciously stinky garlic ahead of me, and perhaps you will too.