Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garlic for beginners

In November last year I planted 2 types of garlic: Chesnok Wight and Picardy Wight, both sourced from the lovely people at The Garlic Farm. Garlic cloves need well drained soil and a spell of cold weather to ensure the new bulbs form properly. And aside from that they're pretty low maintenance. A bit of watering here and there to get them through periods of dry weather - not that we've had too many of those since May - and that's about it. In June the hardneck garlic (Chesnok Wight) start to produce a flower head or scape, that should be snipped off to prevent the plant's energy going into the production of the flower rather than into the bulb.

In early July when the garlic foliage started to yellow and flop over, the new bulbs were lifted carefully with a fork, the roots shaken of soil and the bulbs dried in an airy location to prevent them going mouldy or rotting. I usually use the greenhouse - either hanging them up or laying them in wooden crates.

Once dry and papery, I rubbed off any remaining dirt and loose skin, trimmed the top foliage off and then stored in a cool dry place ready to be used! Hardneck varieties will last until January so should be used first; softneck garlic will store well until late spring next year.
And as ever, before using any bulbs, I'll be selecting the biggest and healthiest from each variety to break up and replant come November. That way my garlic production is self-sustaining from year to year. Now that's what I call self-sufficiency!


  1. A really interesting post for a newbie like me, and had me racing off to the seed sites to see what to buy : ) I'll definitely be planting garlic this autumn on my new plot. Thanks!

  2. Very neat, and yes, self-sufficiency, it is! You may like this book - http://www.amazon.com/Roses-Love-Garlic-Companion-Planting/dp/1580170285.

  3. Banksy - you'll be amazed at the range of garlic varieties available. Much more interesting than the standard supermarket types.
    Asha Ram - thanks for the book recommendation, I'll certainly take a closer look.

  4. Just revisiting this post as I have just planted out Chesnok Red and Picardy Wight. Now the part I am interested in is the self sufficiency in re-using the best bulbs for planting out next autumn. Once I have chosen a few healthy looking bulbs is there any special way of storing them before I plant out next Autumn?