Garlic is easy to grow and can be planted in autumn or spring, with the former usually producing bigger bulbs. It can be used freshly harvested, or dried off and stored for later on.
For best results, look for varieties adapted to the UK climate and certified disease resistant.
Where to grow garlic
Choose a sunny, slightly sheltered site with free-draining alkaline soil on which onions and garlic haven’t been grown for at least three years to avoid build ups of disease.
How to prepare the soil for garlic
Dig over the ground to remove weeds and add plenty of well-rotted compost, which will increase nutrients and help retain moisture. Dig in some general purpose fertiliser if the soil is poor. Increase the chances of a successful crop on acid soil by adding lime to increase its pH.
How to plant garlic
Place the cloves in the soil with their tips around 2.5cm (1in) below the surface. Space them about 15cm (6 inches) apart. Keep rows around 30cm (12 inches) apart.
If the weather is particularly wet, or soil very heavy, start cloves in modules in a greenhouse or under other protection until conditions improve.
How to look after garlic
Remove weeds, which will rob garlic of nutrients and moisture. Weed by hand rather than using a hoe to avoid damaging developing bulbs. Covering a crop with horticultural fleece will protect emerging shoots from birds. Water when the soil begins to dry, although be careful to avoid getting the leaves excessively wet to reduce the chances of fungal diseases. Stop watering when the foliage turns yellow to avoid rotting.
How and when to harvest garlic
Cloves put in the ground between October and December should be ready to lift from early to mid-summer. Harvest spring-planted bulbs from late summer to early autumn. A good indication as to when garlic is ready to be lifted is when their foliage starts to go yellow and wither. Use a fork to gently remove the garlic bulbs from the ground.
How to store garlic
After lifting, dry off bulbs in a light and airy space. They should ‘rustle’ when their outer skins are fully dry. Store in a cool place until needed.