Growing Garlic at the Allotment

Growing Garlic at the Allotment

Garlic is part of the Allium family and are easy to grow with little maintenance required. 

Generally, they are sown during October-November time but can be sown through until February. They like the cold to start with but require well-drained soil to prevent rot. They then require full sun, so ensure they have an open space that is kept weed-free. 

Sow directly into the soil, splitting up the bulb into individual cloves and placing them approximately 1 inch into the ground with the pointed end facing upwards and the flat end going into the soil first. Plant each clove about 6 inches apart. You can start them off in pots and plant out if you wish, especially if you have very wet soil. They only need to be moistened slightly if they're kept under cover. 

The soil will require some good compost or manure mixed in before you sow. Dig in some lime if you have acidic soil.  

Garlic only requires a little watering during dry periods until they are well established or you will risk them going rotten. Do not water from over-head.  
To prevent the birds from pinching them, you will be as well to protect them until they become established. 

Although you can plant shop bought garlic cloves it is wise to ensure you choose those that you know are from the UK as imported produce may not grow well due to other climate requirements and may also carry disease.  

The two main types of garlic are Hardneck and Softneck. 

Hardneck Garlic tends to grow fewer but larger bulbs. They tend to have a stronger flavour and they produce a flower stem. These should be snapped off so that they are not drawing in all the nutrients meant for the growing bulb. 
Softneck Garlic tends to be smaller with tighter packed cloves and do not usually produce flowers unless there is a problem.  

If you have sown your cloves in pots, plant out during the spring in a sunny, weed-free position and space them out about 6 inches apart.  

When the foliage starts to bend and go yellow, like onions, they should be ready for harvesting and can be lifted from the ground. Healthy green leaves can be eaten too. They will generally be ready early summer through to autumn depending on when they were sown. Lift them when they are ready to prevent them from opening and not lasting as long in storage. 

They will then require drying time and will store for quite a few months. They will be ready when the outer skins are paper-like and crispy. 

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Growing Garlic in Summary

Sowing Garlic

  • Sow with clove tip pointing upwards
  • A sunny weed-free position
  • Use UK varieties

Growing Garlic

  • Requires very little water
  • Snap off flowering stems
  • Protect from birds

Harvesting Garlic

  • Harvest when the leaves are bent over and yellowing
  • Dry out until skins are paper-like
  • Stores for several months