A non-profit initiative of the Permaculture Education Institute & Morag Gamble

Challenge Accepted

by | February 28, 2021 | Permayouth

When I think of cooking with my family, I think of garlic. It’s full-bodied, pleasing flavour that lingers and sweetens in your mouth and ends in a nutty after taste that cannot be replaced completely by any other plant.

When I think of gardening, I keep in mind what we use in everyday cooking and garlic is at the top of our list.

In some climates, growing garlic can be very challenging but we are always up for a challenge. Sure, you can replace garlic for garlic chives or society garlic and these options are great substitutes but the challenge of growing your own garlic in our Sub-Tropical climate keeps us on our toes.

Planting
As we head into March, it’s time to start preparing your beds and garlic cloves ready for planting. In our warmer climate, we plant our garlic on the Autumn Equinox or the first full moon in March and harvest in the middle of September – leaving the garlic to be in the ground for 6 months. In cooler climates, you can plant garlic in Autumn or Spring.

Variety
The variety we choose each year for our warmer climate is Glen Large. We have had great success using this variety but in cooler climates the options of varieties are endless.

Preparation
Garlic are heavy feeders so we always spend time preparing our soil with lots of compost and well-rotted manure. By spending time in your preparation, you are giving your bulbs the best chance possible and you will have a higher success rate.

Position
We choose a sunny position and we make sure each clove has plenty of space (15cm apart) where there is no competition from weeds and other plants. Mulching helps keep the weeds at bay and the soil moist.

Watering
We do not water our cloves until they have germinated, which is about 2 weeks after planting. We also stop watering a month before harvest. During the growing stage, we give our garlic weekly feeds of compost and worm tea to keep them thriving.

Harvesting
Beware not to leave your cloves too long in the ground as the bulbs will start separating. Even though they will taste perfectly fine they will not store as well. We harvest as soon as the leaves start to go slightly brown and droop.

Storage
Another big issue in humid climates like ours is storage. The trick is to lay your harvested garlic on the ground for a few days to dry off, not too long as the bulbs can suffer from sunburn. Then hang your garlic in an undercover, breezy spot to dry out completely.

Always remember to save a few bulbs that are the biggest and the very best to plant out for the next year.

– By Eve Ballard

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