Growing Garlic

Latest Update 7th July 2016.

Garlic
  • I keep the best of my previous years crop to provide cloves for the new season.
  • I can fit 44 cloves in 3 allocated rows and they produced plenty for our needs.
  • Blackfly (aphids) are a persistent problem, and vigilance is needed to ensure they don't get established and cause significant damage to the crop.  
  • Organic horticultural oil used as a spray (diluted to suppliers recipe) smothers them.  Spray early in the morning before beneficial insects become active so they are not impacted. 
  • Garlic is harvested as soon as leaf tips turn yellow, and dried in bunches hanging freely from rafters in a shed or garage.  They will store like this for 9 months, but start to send out new shoots in Winter.
  • To avoid losing part of your crop, its worth freezing some of them as soon as they have completely dried out after harvest.  No special preparation is necessary and you can store them with stalks removed in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.  
  • As soon as potatoes are harvested in my crop rotation program, I start preparing the soil for a crop of Garlic.
  • They are planted early in April in Melbourne's, warm temperate climate. 
  • They are extremely nutritious and add great flavour to soups and casseroles, and they taste great when roasted with other veggies. 
Description
  • Variety:                                                    Italian Red.
  • Family group:                                           Allioideae.  
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Light Feeders.
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                             5.5- 7.5.
  • Minimum sun per day:                              4 hours.
  • Plant spacings (centres x rows)                 100 x 100mm.
  • Planting depth:                                         50 mm. 
  • Weeks to harvest:                                    17 - 25 weeks.
  • Good companions.                                   Rose. apple. pear. peach. cucumber. pea.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere.
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. 
  • It is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and selenium, and a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. 
  • More from nutrition data.self.com.
Growing Conditions: 
  • They grow best in full sun.
  • They need well structured rich organic soil.
  • The soil must be kept moist until the tops begin to die back in Spring.
Soil Preparation. 
  • Clear space for garlic in early autumn and apply a 60mm layer of home made compost as a top dressing then cover with 50mm of fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave the Ecobed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity before planting.
Growing Instructions.
  • Move the mulch to one side ready for sowing the garlic in April.
  • Sow the garlic cloves 100 mm apart along rows 100 mm apart with pointed side up and in 50mm deep holes in the soil.  Water them in with rainwater.
  • Return the mulch around the garlic plants as soon as they are established. 
  • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks at the same time as all the other edible plants.
Harvesting and Storage.
  • Harvest the garlic in October or when leaf tips begin to yellow.  Choose a warm sunny day and lift them from the soil carefully.
  • Leave them to dry for a short time after brushing off any soil.  Hang them in a cool dark place until required in the kitchen.
  • Retain a few of your best cloves for planting the following year.
Organic Pest Control.
  • Aphids (blackfly).
    • Exclusion netting is effective against blackfly, but it must be applied early and maintained securely to keep the winged adults from reaching the young garlic plants in Autumn.  This is when they mate and the female lays eggs.  These eggs over-winter and hatch in spring. 
    • If they penetrate your defences, you can spray the hatchlings with dilute Eco-oil (to suppliers dilution ratio) or a 5% home made organic soap solution to kill the aphids by smothering them.
    • Make sure you spray all the leaves and stems including the underside of the leaves. 
  • Slugs and snails.
    • Garlic should be protected against slugs and snails using self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of your Ecobed.
    • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with iron based snail pellets as soon as you discover them.  You should only need to use a small number of these pellets, which are not considered to be toxic to beneficial organisms.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of garlic by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  These microbes defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.
    • Exclusion netting stops birds digging up worms in your Ecobed.