How to Grow Garlic at Home
Growing your own garlic is fun and you get to the reward of eating your crop. Here are some tips on how to grow garlic successfully at home.
Garlic is a member of the allium family which also includes leeks, shallots and onions. Individual cloves act as seeds. The bulbs grow underground and the leaves shoot in to the air. Although garlic is traditionally thought of as a Mediterranean ingredient garlic is also grown successfully in colder more Northern climates (even here in Scotland!).
There are many different garlic varieties, a lot of which you can easily grow at home for a great crop.
Garlic is grown from the individual cloves. Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb – which may in turn contain up to twenty cloves. Growing garlic is therefore self-sustaining.
When planting garlic, choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp. The cloves should be planted individually, upright and about an inch (25 mm) under the surface. Plant the cloves about 4 inches (100 mm) apart. Rows should be about 18 inches (450 mm) apart.
It is traditional to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year. Whether this is for symbolic or practical reasons is unclear, but few people stick to the tradition these days. See more at the sowing garlic page.
Garlic is a very friendly plant and grows well planted with other flowers and vegetables in the garden. For more information on how to grow garlic with other plants, see the page on co-planting garlic.
Although garlic can protect other plants growing nearby against many ailments, there are some it is prone to. See the garlic diseases page for an overview of some of the most common.
Garlic is also vulnerable to a few pests.
Harvesting Your Garlic Crop
As garlic reaches maturity, the leaves will brown then die away. This is the cue that it is time to harvest your garlic crop. If you harvest too early the cloves will be very small, too late and the bulb will have split.
Proper handling of garlic after it’s been picked is almost as important as looking after it whilst it’s growing. It’s essential that garlic is dried properly, otherwise it will rot. The bulbs are often hung up in a cool, dry place. After a week or so, take them down and brush the dirt off gently – don’t wash the bulbs at this stage.
Then enjoy the delicious results of growing your own garlic in your own garden.