Planting autumn garlic will provide you with an early crop next year. A member of the onion family garlic is a staple of the Mediterranean and Asian diets and many consider it to be a superfood. Full of vitamins and minerals, garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic and is thought to protect against colds and cases of flu. Of course, it also wards off vampires and Scottish midges!
There are two major types of garlic, soft-neck and hard-neck. The main differences being that soft-neck have a stronger flavour and store better than the hard-neck. So, if you like mild garlic and intend to use it soon after harvesting, select a hard-neck variety, otherwise go for soft-neck.
It may be tempting to break up and plant the garlic bulb you bought from the supermarket a couple of weeks ago and haven’t yet used. Please avoid this temptation. The variety may be completely unsuitable for our climate, the bulb well passed its best and will also not be certified as disease-free. So, buy your garlic bulbs from a reputable source, such as Dobies, and plant away.
When planting your autumn garlic carefully break the bulb into cloves and plant them just below the surface. They will grow happily direct in the garden or in pots but do need a sunny spot in which to ripen. Plant each clove about 15cm apart and in time each will develop into a complete bulb.
Birds love to lift newly planted cloves so do regularly check and replant as necessary. In dry weather, your autumn garlic will also appreciate being watered.
Harvest wet garlic in June, whilst the leaves are green and the bulbs are still developing. Wet garlic is wonderful in risotto or why not try adding it to roasted new potatoes? It doesn’t store well so only harvest what you need, leaving the rest to develop.
In July the leaves will start to turn yellow. Once they are raffia-like lift the bulbs and dry them before storing. If you love the taste but worry about garlic breath, then grow some parsley alongside. Chewing fresh parsley will remove any unwanted aroma.
Autumn Garlic Varieties:
Edenrose – hard-neck variety producing a large number of easy-to-peel rose skinned cloves
Printanor – soft-neck variety with plump tasty cloves
Germidour – soft-neck variety with violet streaked, white cloves and a mild flavour
Messidrome – soft-neck garlic with a white bulb and a wonderful flavour
Cledor – soft-neck variety with round white bulbs with great flavour
Can’t decide which variety to try? The Dobies Garlic Lovers Collection will give you 2 of each variety, at half the price of buying them singly.