Growing your own garlic

I love cooking with garlic. I use it in quite a lot of my cooking and like to have a regular supply in the pantry. My issue with buying garlic is that for part of the year, only imported garlic is available and I like to buy Australian produce that hasn’t travelled thousands of kms to get here. The other issue I have is that they spray garlic with chemicals such as growth inhibitors to prevent sprouting.

I haven’t grown garlic the last few years since we moved to our farm and boy have I missed it! I planted my garlic recently (Autumn in southern Australia) and I thought I would share my tips for selecting and growing your own garlic.

Which variety to select?

There are few things to think about when selecting garlic bulbs for planting. You will want to buy garlic heads from a nursery or online store or in future you can use some garlic heads you saved from your last planting. I usually consider the following:

  • Is it an early or late harvest variety? I like to have a bit of both and if you have the space I would recommend this so you have some ready early and some later in the season.
  • How strong is the taste? Some garlic varieties are quite strong flavoured and peppery which is not everyone’s cup of tea. Choose a mild flavoured variety if that is the case. Or you could plant a bit of both so you can choose an appropriate one depending on what you are using it for. Descriptions of the taste are often given in the information provided by the company you buy from.
  • How long do they store? If you want garlic for most of the year, choose a variety with a long storage length (many can be stored for up to 8 months). This will ensure you have a supply of garlic for a long period of time before you get to the next growing season.

Planting your garlic

Separate the bulbs and select the large ones for planting

Separate the bulbs from the garlic head

Make a trench in your soil – ensure you have good quality soil that is well drained with lots of compost added. The bulbs should be planted about 10cm apart with rows about 40cm apart.

planting garlic
Plant bulbs in a trench 10cm apart

Ensure you plant the bulbs ‘pointy’ end up. So the end that formed the root is at the bottom. Cover with just enough soil so the bulb is not visible.

Plant garlic bulbs pointy side up

Cover with mulch to prevent weeds as garlic doesn’t like weed competition. Don’t worry about covering the whole area with mulch. The garlic will pop up through it as long as it’s not too thick.

It shouldn’t take long before you see green sprouting through the mulch. Don’t water too often as the bulbs can rot if they are sitting in soil that is water logged. Check if the soil is drying out before watering.

Once the garlic has grown and starts to die off it is time for harvest. I’ll do another post when I harvest my garlic to show you how to do this and prepare the garlic for storage.

Happy planting!

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