Planting garlic...

15 April, 2015

I love growing my own garlic. However I'm not particularly good at it. Having had a marginally better garlic crop last year than the miserly result the year before that, I'm being the eternally optimistic gardener and giving it another go.

This year I have not bought any garlic to plant, but am planting out entirely from the best bulbs of last year's crop.

I've been keeping the largest cloves in the bulbs aside, and mainly using the smaller inner cloves in my cooking. Luckily I still have at least half of my stash of garlic remaining, so hopefully I'll be good for homegrown garlic until this lot crops.

This lot is a mix of varieties grown last year. I didn't separate the varieties after harvest, so I have no idea what is what is what. I haven't found much taste difference between any of the garlic I've been eating, so I'm not too fussed what this lot ends up being. I'm sure it will taste pretty garlic-y, which is all I care about.

I have learnt over the years that garlic, much moreso than onions, loves feeding. And in the garden that means manure.

So this year I'm feeding them up good with a whole bag of pigeon manure. I get this from a friend who races pigeons and he very generously gifts me multiple bags of the manure throughout the year. It is excellent stuff. Frank, you will be well paid in cider.

Garlic also loves sun. As it grows mostly over the winter and spring months, it needs to be in a place that gets full sun for the whole year and isn't shaded when the sun drops low over winter.

So I have chosen a space for the garlic bed in the main area of the front yard that gets full sun all year round.

This space previously grew last year's watermelons, then cabbages and lettuce, which mostly frazzled in the hot days we had towards the end of summer. There is a groundcover rosemary on the right and plenty of self sown nigella on the left, as well as a very stunted cabbage that I left in the ground. I was going to let it go to seed, but it now needs to go to make way for the garlic.

The bed was cleared and the whole bag of manure was well dug into the around 2m square space.

Then the garlic planting began. I plant garlic by pushing the clove down into the soil with my index finger. I plant cloves 20 cms apart in rows with 20cms between rows. Ballpark I'd say I planted around 30 cloves.

End result:

It doesn't look like much now, but hopefully little garlic stalks will be coming up shortly. And hopefully by the end of the year there will be nice fat garlic bulbs for another year's supply of tasty garlic goodness.


  1. I'm an overly optimistic gardener too. But for me it is Brussels sprouts. I've yet to get any. The best they have ever done is baby pea sized one year. Usually they don't even make it that far. But I'm trying yet again. Good luck with your garlic.

    1. Haha. I struggle with Brussels sprouts too. I hope this year is your year. Ever the garden optimism.

  2. Ooh, Bek, You are like my garden calender. I frequently read posts here about some veg or another and think, 'Must get on to that.' Garlic it is then!

    Another garlic tip - they love sweet soil, so a sprinkling of garden lime will make them very happy.

    1. My pleasure Jo :) I have that too with garden blogs. Hopefully we all remind each other and we then all end up with a timely crop!
      I will try a garnish of lime on the garlic planting area. Cheers!

  3. I have so enjoyed reading your post Bek. Twice I have tried to grow garlic with no luck. So full sun with plenty of manure (mine had none) should do the trick. Thank you. You have encouraged me to try again in a better area. Do you plant them point side down on fat side down? How far do you push them into the earth? (I eagerly await your reply) :D

  4. Hi merryn. My pleasure! I plant them pointy side up, pushing them down into the soil not quite 10cms. They like a good watering in but not to be soaking, so avoid planting in areas that are on the damp side. Also see Jo's note about adding garden lime too.
    Only other thing you may need to consider is climate and day length. There are some varieties that do better in more tropical areas, and others that are better in the sub-tropics and temperate climates. I can't recall your location, but bear in mind variety may be a major contributor to success or failure. I have certainly found some varieties were pretty much useless while others were relatively good. I say that in loosely though, I've not yet had anything I'd call a really good harvest :)

  5. I also like growing garlic but am not particularly consistent with what I grow, quality wise. and i'm with jo - I really must buy some lovely healthy organic garlic (I do not have enough of my own to plant) and start. i grow them in grow-bags, that way i do not risk rotting them, as i did my first (heart-breaking) year.

    1. Very interesting. I've never had the waterlogging issue (I assume this is what caused the rot) but it's good to know to keep an eye out for.