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How to: grow garlic


April is garlic-planting time and it’s easier than you think to grow a year’s supply for your family.


Garlic does best in areas with a cold spell of 10 degrees or below for longer than a month. Without this the clove may remain whole and not divide into little bulblets. 


A warm winter is the main obstacle to growing garlic in Sydney. Last year we had no problems, with consistently good bulbs developing, and have fingers crossed for this year too. You’ll need to plant at least 36 cloves, which will require one square metre (6 plants by 6 plants at 15cm apart) to provide a family with garlic for a year. It takes seven months to grow so the garlic you plant now will be ready for Christmas. 

Photo - Linda Ross

Step 1: Garlic needs friable, well-drained soil and full sun. They will be in the garden throughout winter so it is a good idea to mound the soil so it doesn't retain too much moisture that could cause the bulbs to rot. Dig in compost and a cup of blood and bone per square metre.

Photo - Linda Ross

Step 2: Plant out cloves purchased from a reliable mail order company, or Australian garlic (with the roots on) from the greengrocer. Note: Garlic grown in China will have the roots cut due to quarantine requirements. If you grew garlic last year, select some of your biggest cloves and plant them.


Photo - Linda Ross

Step 3: Do not split bulbs until just before planting. Cloves at least 1cm across at the base will give the best bulbs. Plant cloves 8cm deep and 15cm apart. Ours sprung into life within a week. We found that inter rainfall was enough water, but remember to water throughout spring.


Step 4: For green garlic, dig up bulbs in late spring and use straight away. For the true harvest, wait until the leaves yellow. Dry the bulbs completely by spreading them out on trays in the sun for two weeks until they are dry and the skin is papery. Remove any soil, plait the leaves and hang them in a cool airy place until you need them. We have them at the back door! 



Photo - Linda Ross

Text: Linda Ross    

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Author: Linda Ross