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Garlic: how to plant and grow

Garlic: how to plant and grow

What would we do without garlic? This Mediterranean staple adds delicious flavour to a whole range of dishes, from soups and stews to stir-fries and casseroles. It's also easy to grow, and a wide range of varieties is available. Plant your own garlic cloves this autumn, and you can enjoy harvesting and cooking with your own home-grown garlic next summer!

Types of garlic

Garlic is divided into hardneck and softneck varieties.

  1. Hardneck garlic produces flower spikes, known as 'scapes,' which are generally cut off before they can flower. Hardneck garlic is hardier and better for cold areas and tends to have more complex flavours.
  2. Softnecks do not produce scapes, so the necks of the bulbs stay soft. Softnecks do well in areas with mild winters and store better for longer.

Softneck garlics tend to be the more popular because of their flavours.  Amongst the softneck varieties, we find 'Garcua' with its strong flavour is one of the best storing varieties.  If you prefer a mild flavour, 'Germidour' with it's violet-coloured cloves is a good choice, and for a medium flavour, 'Thermidrome', a pure white, high yielding variety might be the one for you.  It's also worth mentioning 'Topadrome' which will give you an early harvest.  

How to plant garlic

Garlic needs well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny spot. It is best planted in autumn to give it a long growing season, but some garlic varieties can also be planted in spring.

  • Before planting, dig in plenty of organic material, such as compost, and add grit to improve drainage if necessary. Remove all weeds and large stones, and rake a general-purpose fertiliser into the soil.
  • Plant individual garlic cloves 15cm apart and 2.5cm deep with the tips just below the surface of the soil, pointing upwards. Water after planting to settle the soil.
  • Cover the beds with cloches or fleece to stop birds from pulling up the young seedlings.

How to care for garlic

Garlic is generally trouble-free and doesn't need much looking after. Follow these tips for a healthy crop.

  • Keep the beds clear of weeds. It's best to weed by hand to avoid damaging the plant's shallow roots.

  • Water well during long dry periods. When the leaves start to turn yellow, stop watering.

  • If scapes (green shoots similar to chives) appear, pick them before they flower so that the plant's energies are focused on developing large bulbs. The scapes are delicious sauteed or roasted! 

  • When the leaves are yellow, the bulbs are ready to harvest. Lift them gently using a garden fork. Spread them out in the sun or inside a well-ventilated room and leave them to dry for 2-3 weeks until the skins are papery.

  • Once the bulbs are dry, remove any damaged or bruised ones and store the rest in a string bag in a cool dark place.

See our range of garlic at

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