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TOP 10 TIPS
Disappointed each season with small, weak and poorly performing garlic bulbs? These are our top 10 tips for the best chances of harvesting the largest, healthiest and the best looking garlic bulbs.
1) Choose the right garlic type
Each of the ten garlic groups prefers a particular climate zone. We have divided the country into three main garlic growing zones. Choosing the right garlic for your climate zone is the first step for growing big healthy garlic bulbs.
2) Prepare your garden bed
Pick a sunny spot. If possible use a garden bed which has not had any allium species (leek, onion, chives) in it for the past couple of years and ensure that your soil is rich in nutrients, light and well drained. Our guide offers more detail on garden preparation.
3) Pick the best time to plant
The old saying 'plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest' is a very rough guideline. Planting really depends on your climate zone and the type of garlic grown. Check out our planting guide for when to plant.
4) Find big cloves from big bulbs
It's so important to only plant big cloves from big bulbs - research shows this provides the best results. Planting small cloves will almost always return poor results. If possible try to obtain bulbs from a higher altitude and southern latitude from your garden. These cloves from such bulbs will have more vigour when taken to a warmer and lower elevation.
5) Follow best planting practices
Plant cloves not bulbs. The clove tip should sit to the top, and ideally planted 20x20cm apart and 2-7cm deep (the colder the deeper). For more planting information following our planting guide.
6) Dispose of the rogues
Find the rogues! Keep a close eye on your crop for common problems or unusual coloration of leaves. Whether this be yellowing (nutrient or an infection), brooming, or multiple shoots. If it's affecting the occasional plant then dispose of it, if there are many then it might be a nutrient deficiency,a disease or a pest.
7) Fertilise your soils
While it is important to have your soils rich in nutrients prior to planting, it's more important to put on the right fertiliser at the right time. Choose organic slow release nitrogen fertiliser at regular intervals in spring (eg. blood and bone) for leaf growth. At maximum leaf number ( in most places 10-12), stop and change to an organic slow release potassium fertiliser (eg. potash) to enhance bulbing.
8) Weed, weed and weed!
Garlic hates competition. Some growers use mulch to suppress weeds, while others do the hard mahi by hand. Either way, weed free soil ensures the best chance of larger bulbs.
9) Remove the scapes
Most hardneck garlic will produce a scape, especially if you live in a cool to cold winter climate. While some hardneck garlics respond differently to scape removal, but it's best to remove the scape to give you a greater chance of a 10-30% bigger bulb.
10) Know when to harvest
Harvest time depends on your climate zone and type of garlic grown. Harvest too early and bulbs have not matured, while harvesting too late results in the bulb skin splitting and will not store as long. Stop watering a month out, and follow our harvesting guide to know when to harvest your big healthy garlic bulbs.
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