Homeschool Garden Club - Garlic

Home-grown garlic takes up little space and requires hardly any effort to get a good crop. It’s a good crop to grow as part of the Homeschool Garden Club, as garlic is easy to grow, and the cloves are the perfect size to be planted.

There are two types of garlic to grow: softneck garlic and hardneck garlic.

  • Softneck garlic is easier to grow and stores well

  • Hardneck garlic, while less hardy and not as long-lasting, it has the best flavour.

There’s also elephant garlic, which bears giant, mild-flavoured bulbs, which you can grow for a lighter garlic flavour. We can have a competition to see who can grow the biggest elephant. Aim to have your garlic in this week or at least before half term.


Garlic Varieties to Grow

'Albigensian Wight'– a heavy cropping, soft-neck variety with large bulbs

Blanco Veneto' (‘Venetian Wight’) – forms large bulbs with a strong flavour

'Early Purple Wight" – mild, purple-tinged bulbs

'Iberian Wight'– produces large bulbs with plump cloves, good to plait

‘Solent Wight’– small bulbs with a strong flavour

How to Grow Garlic

Grow garlic in a warm, sunny spot, in fertile, well-drained soil that doesn’t get too wet in winter. Plant garlic cloves in autumn or early spring, planting individual cloves 18cm apart at twice their own depth. Keep the area weed free, water when dry and harvest from July onwards.

You can buy garlic for both spring and autumn planting. However, it’s best to plant garlic in autumn, as the cloves need a period of cold weather to develop into bulbs.

To plant garlic, split the bulbs into individual cloves and plant them with the pointed end upwards. Take care not to damage the cloves when separating them. Space them about 18cm apart and plant at twice their own depth.

How to Plant Garlic

It is possible to grow garlic from supermarket bulbs, but it’s not recommended as there’s a risk of virus infection. If you buy from proper planting stock, it should be virus free. And you can also choose a variety that has been bred especially for our climate.

It’s best to plant garlic in autumn, as the cloves need a period of cold weather to develop into bulbs. To plant garlic, split the bulbs into individual cloves and plant them with the pointed end upwards. Take care not to damage the cloves when separating them. Space them about 18cm apart and plant at twice their own depth.

Grow garlic in a warm, sunny spot, in fertile, well-drained soil that doesn’t get too wet in winter. Keep the area weed free, water when dry and harvest from July onwards.

If you have heavy clay soil, it can be better to plant garlic in spring. This type of soil tends to hold a lot of water, especially over winter, which can cause the garlic cloves to rot.

Alternatively, you can start garlic off by planting cloves singly in module trays in autumn. You can then plant these out in spring, when the soil has dried out a little. You could also try growing garlic in mounds 15cm tall and 20cm wide at the base. Plant the garlic cloves into these mounds, 15-20cm apart and 7-10cm deep. Because the soil is slightly raised, it doesn’t get as wet, so the garlic is less likely to rot.


How to Care for Garlic

Garlic needs little care. Water regularly and weed between plants to reduce the competition for water and nutrients. Remove any flowers, or ‘scapes’ the plants produce – you can eat these in stir-fries.

Harvest garlic in summer when the leaves turn yellow. Gently lift out bulbs with a fork or trowel, taking care not to damage the bulbs. Leave the garlic to dry out for a couple of days, by laying it out on a table or tray, in full sun.

Once dry, you can either store your garlic bulbs loose or plait their foliage to make a traditional string of bulbs. Take care not to bruise the bulbs, as any damage can make them deteriorate in storage. bear in mind that softneck garlic varieties store better than hardneck garlic, so eat the hardneck varieties first.

How to Harvest Garlic

Harvest garlic in summer when the leaves turn yellow. Gently lift out bulbs with a fork or trowel, taking care not to damage the bulbs. Leave the garlic to dry out for a couple of days, by laying it out on a table or tray, in full sun.

How to Store Garlic

Once dry, you can either store your garlic bulbs loose or plait their foliage to make a traditional string of bulbs. Take care not to bruise the bulbs, as any damage can make them deteriorate in storage. Bear in mind that softneck garlic varieties store better than hardneck garlic, so eat the hardneck varieties first.


Growing Garlic: Problem Solving

Garlic is generally pest free. However, garlic can be affected by leek rust, a fungal infection that is more common in wet weather. The garlic bulbs are perfectly safe to eat but it’s a good idea to harvest affected plants immediately, to prevent the disease spreading.


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