December is the perfect time of year to start growing crops of garlic ready for next summer. Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day – December 21st, but can be planted anytime from late November onwards. It needs a long growing season and a cold snap to mature properly.
You can use garlic from a supermarket, or even better, from a garden centre. All you have to do is:
- Remove the outer skin, and separate the bulb into individual cloves.
- Plant each of these with the pointed end upwards, just about sticking out of the soil, in a sunny spot.
If you’re planting in the ground, you need good drainage, so if the soil tends to stay wet for a long time after rain, then just add a bit of grit to improve drainage. The other option is plant each one in a 3 or 5 inch pot with compost- If you just have a sunny windowsill, try that. All they should need is watering and the occasional feed of fertiliser with something like Tomato Feed. How do you know if a pot needs watering? Stick your finger into the top, if you get bits of soil sticking to it – water it. If you don’t – don’t.
Next July, when the long, thick, grassy leaves have turned yellow, your garlic will be ready to take out. If you want to use it dried (as you get in shops) tie them up by their leaves and hang them to dry out for about a month. If you’re feeling brave, do as the French do and eat some fresh on toast! It’s a wholly different taste…
- Posted: 16 Dec 2003
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