I have never thought of growing garlic before for many reasons. Firstly I have never had a garden that I have been able to do this in, and secondly I am addicted The Sims games. In The Sims 4 garlic is one of the last plants that your sim can learn to grow. Because of this, I guess I have always thought that garlic would be hard to grow. I have started following CaliKim on YouTube and have watched a lot of her gardening videos. While she gardens in a completely different climate to mine, I discovered through her that garlic is a vegetable that is planted in winter. As we bought our new house in autumn, and I am so keen and eager to get into the garden despite the bone-chilling cold, I thought I would try my hand at growing garlic.
Planting garlic is a relatively straight forward process. I am only trying to grow this in the garden, outdoors in the South Island of New Zealand. At this stage I haven’t planned to plant any in planters (as they’re expensive) or in my glass house. The climate I live in is classified as cool/temperate. I think it would be colder than that, so hopefully the garlic I planted mid-June this year, will start sprouting towards the end of winter. Traditionally, garlic is planted on the winter solstice. Today, I think the general consensus is that planting garlic depends a little bit more on when you will be expecting frosts. I decided to keep it simple this year and plant it the week of the solstice and see how I go.
There are generally two types of garlic you can plant, normal garlic, and elephant garlic. They are really self explanatory in terms of difference. You will be able to buy garlic bulbs from your local garden store, both normal and elephant garlic should be easily available. As the elephant garlic is larger the planting method varies slightly.
- ‘Normal’ Garlic: Separate the bulb into individual cloves (each clove will become a new garlic bulb – kind of like magic). Select the larger of the cloves to plant. According to CaliKim, the smaller cloves won’t do as well. Also remove any rotten or damaged cloves. Keep the thin paper covering on the garlic, as it will protect the clove. I was a bit disappointed with the bulbs I purchased, as I actually ended up disposing of quite a few larger cloves as they were rotten. Once separated you can plant into the garden. Plant under about 2 cm soil, about 4 cm apart. The pointy end of the garlic clove needs to be pointed upwards, as the roots will grow from the more rounded end.
- Elephant Garlic: Separate the bulb into individual cloves (each clove will become a new garlic bulb – kind of like magic). Use all cloves to plant, unless rotten, or damaged. They may or may not come with a thin paper covering, mine didn’t. Plant under about 4 cm soil, about 8 cm apart. The pointy end of the garlic clove needs to be pointed upwards, as the roots will grow from the more rounded end.
If you live in a colder climate as I do,I would suggest mulching. Not only will it keep the weeds at bay, but it will keep your little garlic plants warm despite the cool, winter temperatures. I covered the planted area in pea straw. You could use fallen leaves as well. The plant material will break down over the winter, and provide nutrients to lots of helpful bugs and worms. Please keep in mind that birds do like certain types of mulch.
I will keep you updated as to how the garlic grows, or does not grow in a cool climate. While there is a lot of material around on the web for growing garlic, there was not much that I found helpful for how successful growing garlic would be in a cooler climate. So hopefully I can let you know how this goes, if it is worth the investment of money and time and hopefully provide some hope for gardening in cool climates.