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How to grow Garlic

GARDENING - GROW YOUR OWN VEG

Garlic / Allium sativumGrowing garlic is a rewarding and easy way to add flavour to your cooking while also boosting your health. Garlic is packed with nutrients and is known for its numerous health benefits, including its ability to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Here is a step-by-step guide to growing garlic:

Choosing the Right Variety

The first step in growing garlic is to choose the right variety. There are two main types of garlic: softneck and hardneck.

  • Softneck garlic is the most commonly grown type and is known for its strong flavour and long storage life.
  • Hardneck garlic is less common and has a milder flavour but it is also easier to peel. Some popular varieties of garlic include California Early, Chesnok Red and Purple Glazer.

Preparing the Soil

Garlic prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Choose a sunny spot in your garden and remove any weeds or debris from the soil. You can improve the soil quality by adding compost or well-rotted manure before planting.

Planting the Garlic

The best time to plant garlic is in the Autumn, usually between September and November, depending on your location. Separate the garlic bulbs into individual cloves, making sure to leave the papery skin intact. Plant the cloves pointed end up, about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, in rows that are about a foot apart. Cover the cloves with soil and water thoroughly.

Caring for the Garlic

Garlic is a low-maintenance crop but it does require regular watering and fertilisation. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged and fertilise the plants with a balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks. Garlic is also prone to pests and diseases, so keep an eye out for signs of damage or infection and take appropriate measures to control them.

Harvesting the Garlic

Garlic is usually ready to harvest in mid-summer, about 8 - 10 months after planting. The leaves will start to turn yellow and wilt, indicating that the garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested. Use a spade or fork to gently lift the bulbs out of the soil, taking care not to damage them. Allow the bulbs to dry in a cool, dry place for several weeks before using or storing.

Storing the Garlic

Proper storage is important to ensure that your garlic lasts as long as possible. Store garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation, such as a pantry or basement. Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, as this can cause the bulbs to sprout or rot. Softneck garlic can last up to a year in storage, while hardneck garlic may only last for a few months.

Growing garlic is a simple and rewarding process that can be done in your own backyard. With the right variety, soil and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of flavourful and nutritious garlic bulbs that can be used in a variety of dishes.

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