Garlic is one of our kitchen mainstays. Last year we grew eight varieties of garlic to see what suited the growing conditions here in northern Tasmania best, not to mention our palate! This year we decided to narrow down our planting selection. We have selected three varieties that will satisfy our taste buds over a longer period of time and planted them out at the start of May.
The Tasmanian Purple is a hardnecked garlic belonging to the Turban Group. It is a big garlic! You can expect each bulb when fully grown to produce around 8-10 chunky cloves in cooler climates.
Total we planted: 60 cloves.
Expected harvest date: Early season, early December
Rojo de Castro
My personal favourite! This is a Hardneck garlic in the Creole Group. It just oozes flavour. Some people describe the taste as 'nutty'. I love adding this to a dish where garlic is the hero.
Total we planted: 42 cloves.
Expected harvest date: Mid season, early to late January
Despite having a name suggesting a character from Vikings, this Softneck garlic from the Silverskin Group is really more of a quiet achiever. Well, at least in my opinion. It grows decent sized cloves and quite a few of them. They are a bit easier to get a knife through them without cutting your fingers!
Total we planted: 44 cloves.
Expected harvest date: Late season, early February
Note that the expected harvest time for each garlic is based on Tasmania's cool climate. If you are not fortunate enough to live on the Apple Isle, then check out your local growing conditions to see when you can expect to harvest these beautiful garlic varieties.
The Australian Garlic website is a good ... no make that excellent place to start. It has some great information on planting and harvest times, as well as the number of cloves you can expect to yield for each bulb.
Full sun is the key here. Just because a plant will grow over winter doesn't mean it doesn't need sun. The shoot is sending down energy to help that clove turn into the bulb. So feed it!
Garlic needs moist not damp soils, otherwise the bulbs may rot. We enriched these clay soils with a lot of mushroom compost and sheep poo before planting our bulbs. What we have ended up with is slightly raised beds, given they are planted on a slope.
Allow at least 30 cm between rows. Some gardeners prefer to allow a little more room between rows, i.e. up to 40 cm, depending on the variety. Space each garlic clove at least 10 cm apart in each row. And yes, a little further apart if you know the variety you are growing is a larger plant. For example, I gave a little more room to grow to the Tasmanian Purple than the Rojo de Castro.
NB. When I am talking about garlic here I am referring to cultivars of Allium sativum, and not Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum (Elephant Garlic). Elephant Garlic is more closely related to leeks. It needs more room, not surprising really given its common name.
A good rule of thumb when planting a garlic bulb is the ... rule of thumb! By that I mean you should plant a garlic clove to the depth of approximately an adult-sized thumb. Now I know not all thumbs are the same length, and not all garlic cloves are the same size either. For the more metric-minded, garlic should be planted to a depth of around 5 cm.
Right way up!
Remember to place each garlic clove into its hole with the 'pointy' end sticking up. The pseudostem and leaves will develop from this part. They will want the sun so they will need to grow above ground, not further down into the soil. The 'flattened base', or base plate, of the clove is where the roots will grow from.
Remember to water in after planting. I plan to mulch these beds once the garlic has sprouted. Until then I will need to make sure I keep on top of any weeds that may pop up.
Really there's not a lot more that needs to be done now until harvest time. Stay tuned for news as we get close to that date.