Tuesday, October 18

A three pronged approach to planting garlic.

Our attempts at growing garlic suffered a crop failure last year. The cloves were started in pots in the cold greenhouse and were doing well until they were planted out and then it was downhill all the way. I’ve since read that garlic needs plenty of water so I suppose the really dry spring and summer could have caused some of our problems. Whatever the reason next season we are going for broke and have bought a garlic collection. 
The number and size of the cloves of each variety vary considerably .
We bought one bulb each of the following:
  • Albigensian Wight – hardneck variety (12 coves)
  • Chesnok Red - hardneck variety (9 cloves)
  • Early Purple Wight -  hardneck variety (17 cloves)
  • Edenrose – hardneck variety (15 cloves)
  • Germidour - softneck variety (12 cloves)
  • Iberian Wight’ – softneck variety (8 huge cloves)
  • Lautrec Wight - hardneck variety (12 cloves)
  • Messidrome – softneck variety (8 cloves)
  • Wight Cristo –  softneck variety (15 cloves)
  • and
  • Elephant Garlic - technically not a garlic at all (5 cloves)

    We have both hard and soft neck varieties. The softneck don’t flower and are supposed to be better for storing. The hardneck varieties do flower - in fact when I split the bulbs there was the remains of a flower stalk in the middle of some of the bulbs - you need to pinch out any flower stems that develop so all the energy goes into bulb production.

    I’m going to try a three pronged approach to see which method of growing will work best for us. 

    The first prong was to plant up 3 cloves of each variety into pots using multipurpose compost. Although garlic needs moisture it doesn’t like to be waterlogged so I’ve placed the garlic trays across the trays on the greenhouse staging to allow for drainage. Unlike onions the cloves are pushed beneath the surface of the compost. In spring the young garlic plants will be planted out on the plot to grow on. 
    For the second prong I planted three of each variety, except the elephant garlic, into a tub. Garlic apparently are hungry feeders and these plants will stay in tubs until they - hopefully - are ready to harvest. For this reason I mixed together John Innes number 3, multi purpose compost and grit. The John Innes is to provide better nutrition and the grit to help with better drainage. I thought the elephant garlic needed more space to grow to maturity which is why I haven’t planted any cloves in the tubs. The tubs will stay in the greenhouse overwinter and be moved outside in spring. Garlic needs a period of cold temperatures in order to grow cloves otherwise it can grow just one fat bulb. Life in our greenhouse will be cold enough but being under cover will prevent waterlogging.
    The third and final prong was to plant some cloves straight into the ground. The cloves were planted in a shallow trench. Chicken manure pellets will provide some nutrients.
    Now I just have to hope one prong actually works and produces a harvest. If all the prongs work then all I can say is that the whole of Yorkshire (including Whitby) will be a vampire free zone!


    1. I bet that all three ways will work out great and you will have more garlic then you know what to do with!

      Your squash look great!

    2. Wonderful collection - I'm so jealous! :)

    3. Wow, that's quite an operation - I admire your organisation! Thinking I must get some garlic to overwinter this week...

    4. I suppose it will be all or nothing Robin.

      I'd wait until you see whether or not they grow before being jealous Tanya

      They reckon it needs to be in by the end of this month, Naomi

    5. Have to try garlic again the amount we use here

    6. They'll grow...especially the ones you have planted outside! I think leaving them out over the winter helps to toughen them up for a bit of drought early in the year anyhow :)

    7. Wow - that's a lot of garlic! Good luck :-) Love 'n' hugs, Mel xx

    8. Good luck, that is an impressive array of different types, and I admire your determination! I will follow progress with great interest, I won't be growing garlic this/next season, but hopefully the one after that...

    9. I have a sneaky feeling all three ways are going to work! You'll be in garlic heaven :) I just planted my very first garlic yesterday. Will post about it later this week. Tis the season for garlic!

    10. It's worth giving it another try Cathy

      They don'y get much protection from the cold in our greenhouse Tanya just keeps some of the rain off as our soil is clay based and can get quite waterlogged.

      It's a lot of garlic cloves, Mel but will they grow?

      If it all grows I'll drown under garlic Jenni!

      For better or worse I'll definitely be posting about the results Janet

    11. If you end up with a glut, I'll help you out - even if it's only with some recipe suggestions. Jane has a roast chicken recipe somewhere that calls for 40 cloves of garlic...

    12. It will be interesting to see which method gives the best result.

    13. You can have a plaiting party next summer with all this. I would be interested in your thoughts on the differences between varieties.

    14. Crikey Mark 40 cloves? Does anyone come near you when you've eaten that dish?

      I'm interested in finding that out too Bridget - I guess it will also be affected by whatever the weather throws at us too

      I've labelled all the varieties Liz with just that intention. It's not so much the plaiting as where to hang all the plaits!

    15. Colin Spencer in Gourmet Cooking for Vegetarians (1980) has Garlic Soup (Soupe A L'Ail) with 100 cloves!

      "It does not alter the final flavour if you use 100 or 200 cloves of garlic, although the larger number might well affect the purgative, medicinal effect on the body"

    16. Can you overdose on garlic I wonder, Mal?

    17. Looks like fun with so many different variety to grow. The only variety I know in your list is Elephant garlic which we are growing now. I think you will be safe from vampires or any evil monster this coming halloween from that many garlic.

    18. Good job too, Diana with Halloween being close


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