There are two main categories of garlic. Softneck varieties are the most common. They don’t have a flowerhead and tend to have a longer shelf life. Hardneck varieties have flowerheads like onions, produce fewer, bigger cloves and prefer cooler climates such as ours.
Garlic will also repel aphids and can be used as a companion plant for roses, fruit trees and members of the tomato family.
Site and soil
Garlic likes full sun, good drainage and some well incorporated compost or aged manure.
In cooler areas, garlic can be planted anytime between late autumn and early spring for best results. Source garlic from an organic provider and steer clear of imported bulbs as they (by necessity) have been fumigated with methyl bromide as they reach Australia.
Separate a bulb into individual cloves – it’s best to source the bulb from an organic provider. Plant each clove pointy end upwards a few centimetres below the soil surface, spaced 10-20 cm apart.
Mulch well as garlic doesn’t like competition from weeds. Regular watering is important and the ground should not be allowed to dry out completely during bulb formation.
Garlic is slow to mature, generally taking around 8 months to produce a bulb. Harvest when the leaves begin to turn brown or yellow – don’t wait until the foliage has completely died back.
Stop watering the plants for at least a week before you intend to harvest. Lift the bulbs carefully from the soil with a fork. If it’s good weather, leave them to dry in the sun for a few days.
Garlic has few problems with pests or diseases. Thrips can be a problem as can downy mildew and the fungal disease white rot in cool wet weather.
Poor growth may be the result of planting time, watering schedule, soil acidity or variety.