FREEZE then bake – that’s the secrets of success with garlic.
No, they’re not cooking instructions – both autumn and spring-planting varieties need a period of cold so that cloves develop – deny them this and you’ll get one clove.
Following the winter, they need to be in a sunny position so the cloves can bake – that means without competition from weeds, so make sure you hand weed – hoes may damage bulbs.
If you’re planting in autumn, get the cloves in from October-December. For spring-planting types, February-April is the usual recommended planting time. For both, make sure the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.
For every square metre, add 50g of general-purpose fertiliser.
Plant individual cloves, keeping the papery husk on. Do not plant supermarket varieties – always buy bulbs especially for use in northern areas, from a mail order seed company or nursery.
Ensure the soil is well-drained and plant cloves 10cm apart and 2.5-5cm deep, in rows 30cm apart, with the wide root side facing down.
Prevent birds from pulling up the cloves by covering the rows with horticultural fleece. In the far north, mulch heavily with straw for overwintering, removing it in the spring – young shoots can’t survive in temps below -7°C.
Water every week during bulbing (mid-May and June).
Growing garlic at a glance:
Planting time (autumn): October-December
Harvesting time: early/mid-summer
Planting distance: 10-15cm (4-6 inches) apart, 2.5-5cm (1-2 inches) deep, 30cm (1 ft) between rows
Aspect and soil: Full sun, well-drained, non-acid soil
Recommended varieties: Provence Wight, Early Purple Wight, Lautrec Wight, Messidrome, Wight Cristo, Carrcassone Wight, Albigensian Wight, Edenrose, Germidour, Chesnok Red, Donetsk Red, Red Duke.