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Planting Garlic

Posted by sheiladearing on 13 Oct 2009 at 11:21 AM

Now’s the time to start planting garlic. [Fig 1a] Garlic can be planted anytime from autumn to early spring. Most cultivars are better planted before Christmas although some can be planted as late as March. What determines whether to plant early or later is whether they are hard-necks or soft-necks. The hard-necks need to be planted in the autumn – October is a good time. The reason why the hard-necks need to be planted early is that they require a period of cold (6-8 weeks below 10°C) to form cloves properly. Otherwise the bulb will not split to form individual cloves – it just gets bigger.


     Fig 1a                          Fig 2a

The hard-necks are derived from the species Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon and normally produce a flower during the growing season; when the dried bulb is examined later there is a hard central stem remaining from the old flower stalk. When these bulbs are broken up [fig 2] to separate the individual cloves, this central stem [fig 3] is removed and normally leaves a small amount of the root plate on each clove. [Fig 4,4a] This is what is referred to in some gardening books when they say separate the cloves so as to leave each clove with a bit of root plate. This is really only possible with the hard necks.


          Fig 3                       Fig 4                      Fig 4a

The soft-neck are derived from Allium sativum and will not normally produce a flower unless under stress and so the bulbs have no central stalk when split [fig 5,5a] and no roots remain attached to the root plate. [Fig 6,6a]


    Fig 5                       Fig 5a                     Fig 6                       Fig 6a

Once the bulbs have been broken up into individual cloves these can be planted between 4-6 inches (10-15cm) apart with 18 inches (45cm) between the rows. At Rosemoor we have planted 9 inches (22.5cm) by 12 inches (30cm). [Fig 7] Plant about 3 inches (7.5cm) deep so that there is 1 inch (2.5cm) of soil over the clove. [fig 8]


        Fig 7                   Fig 8

Do not plant too close as this restricts air movement and can cause problems with rust the following year. If rust does occur, using a potassium feed such as sulphate of potash can help to reduce the severity of the attacks, as soft growth caused by too much nitrogen can make the problem worse.

This year we are growing the following cultivars:

Solent Wight
Albigensian Wight
Iberian Wight
Provence Wight
Early Purple Wight
Lautrec Wight
Aquila Wight
Chesnok Wight
Purple Heritage Moldovan

All from the The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight

 Garry Preston


christine swain said:

Many thanks for this! I've just read an article about garlic and this has added to it nicely. I'll get to the allotment tomorow and get mine planted!

on 30 Oct 2009 at 08:54 PM