Garlic is easy to grow and to my taste home grown bulbs have a much superior flavour to shop bought bulbs. They do not have the acrid after taste present in aged bulbs and most processed product.
Although Garlic does not take up much room it is in the ground for 10 to 11 months, so choose your spot carefully.
You will need to purchase locally grown bulbs, as imported product is sprayed with nasty chemicals and is often sterile, visit your local farmers market and try and get some organically grown product.
I like to get my cloves in at the end of January; I try to go for Australia day, the 26th January, (mid -summer) as this gives me a date to work towards. I know this is earlier than most books or gardening sites recommend but that is when my “wild” garlic starts to shoots so I am going with Mother Nature; I think she knows what she is doing. The wild garlic are cloves I have planted under fruit trees, roses etc that I do not harvest, so they just come up every year giving me a clear indication of when soil and weather conditions are right for garlic growing.
I have successfully grown garlic in No-Dig gardens and in pots, so if you are limited in space, or your ground is too hard or you just prefer the No dig system, go ahead and use these methods.
Since I have plenty of space it is easier and more economical for me to grow in the ground. I mulch to stop weeds which Garlic dislikes.
So what preparation have I done?
I have chosen a spot in the garden that is in full sun and is well drained.
I have prepared a small area 4 meters by 1 meter this will allow me to plant about 100 cloves in 2 rows, which will hopefully turn into 100 bulbs.
I have dug the soil over and added a little lime and a bag of sheep manure-This is fairly low in nutrients, which is good, Garlic does not like too rich a soil- but it is the cow manure is very fibrous and increases the friability of the soil.
I then mulch the ground with sugar cane mulch and water the area well.
I then take my best bulbs (large and firm) form last year’s crop. Always choose the best bulbs because they will produce the best cloves, which will in turn produce the best new bulbs.
I then remove the larger outer cloves till I have around 100.
Then with a dibble stick (Check out what items you need in a basic garden toolkit here)I create a hole into the prepared soil and place a garlic clove in, pointy end up of course, just to depth where the tip of the clove is exposed, firm the soil around it and water well.
Do not water again until the shoots appear.
When the shoots are about 5 cm high I then liquid feed with ½ strength power feed once a week for 4 to 5 weeks. This should be enough to gives you lots of foliage which feeds the bulb- the more foliage the bigger the bulb. For decent sized bulbs you will need to get the foliage to about 45cm tall and the base of the foliage about 2cm across.
You really do not need to do anything else, other than the occasional water, until late spring when you stop watering them ready for harvest, curing and storage- but more of that later!
For more information on starting your productive backyard, check out the website