Autumn is the time to be planting garlic, the most incredibly pungent and aromatic member of the onion tribe, but before you do, it’s vital that you get in and prepare the soil well. Start by digging it over to a good spades depth to loosen it up and mix in a couple of buckets of compost per square metre. Garlic hates acidic soil so if your pH is below 6, add some lime as well to sweeten your soil. Garlic hates wet feet, so if you have a clay soil, mound it up to improve the drainage. The garlic you plant needs to be firm - don’t buy anything that’s shriveled up. I prefer to buy local too. Look out for garlic at your local farmers market. The advantage of that is that is knowing you've got a variety that's been proven for your local conditions. All you need to do with the bulbs is break them up into individual cloves for planting. The larger ones are best - send the smaller ones back to the kitchen for cooking. Planting is easy. All you do is make a series of holes around 15cm apart and 5 cm deep. Pop your cloves in, one per hole, making sure the pointy ends are always pointing upwards when you backfill - that's where the shoots will form. Once they're all done, give them a good watering and cover the soil with a thin layer of organic mulch to hold in the moisture and keep the weeds at bay. It’s that simple. Within weeks, their shoots will be popping out everywhere and by November (6-7 months) you'll be harvesting your very own garlic bulbs.
First published: March 2011