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Garlic is a perennial herb of the lily family that grow into bulbs. There are three main types of garlic the most popular being the common white garlic but there is also a pink (which grows earler than the white) and a garlic with red coloured bulb, which is slower and produces larger cloves.
Garlic is so versatile and useful for flavouring and other household purposes that a patch should be included in every Home Garden.
Cultivation of Garlic
Garlic needs a rich, light and sandy soil in a spot with plenty of sun. It is ideally suited to a site that has previously been manured and occupied for another crop. It does not like fresh manure but bone meal is fine. Garlic does well in soil which has been well trenched and broken up, and brought up to a fine tilth. Drainage is really important, as Garlic is likely to rot in wet soil.
Garlic does not produce seed, but is grown from its cloves or parts of the compound bulb. The whole bulbs are broken up into the small cloves comprising it, and of these the outer cloves are the ones which should be used for planting and growing more garlic.
Plant in late Autumn and cover the cloves with half an inch of soil with eight inches between each plant and one foot between rows. Do not cover the cloves but press them into the soil and leave in this state throughout the Winter.
The ground must be kept well watered and absolutely free from weeds whilst the crop is growing. This is essential to success. Other than weeding with a hoe, garlic is low maintenance and can be left to getting on with growing.
Garlic is different to shallots as it only produces one stem. As the leaves die off and turn yellow during summer the bulbs can then be harvested and left to dry out in the sun. Letting the garlic harden thoroughly and by doing this your garlic should keep for several months. If your garlic hasn’t bulked up enough it is likely that it didn’t get cold enough for the plant to put down stores and ‘fatten up’.
The bulbs, after harvesting, can be tied together and stored in a dry place. Garlic grown in cold districts has a stronger and more pungent flavor than that raised in warm localities.
Did you know…
If you want a good crop of peas or beans old wives tales tell us not to plant garlic, onions or shallots near them.
Garlic (like onions and shallots) are even great for repelling some insects like aphids and weevils and as a treatment to prevent blight in potatoes and tomatoes.