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How to grow garlic

The last two years I've grown garlic both in the ground and in containers but only got small bulbs each time. Any advice on how to grow nice large bulbs? How should I prepare the soil? Do I need to add a fertiliser (must be organic)? Should I feed throughout growing season (liquid or granular feed)? Should I keep watering? Will be planting some cloves soon but would it be better to plant in the Autumn (I'm in the south of England)? Use a lot of garlic in cooking so would love to harvest a decent crop!



  • The RHS provides some useful information,

    Hopefully it helps.


  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    • plant in the ground (containers always dry out too much-despite regular watering's)
    • plant in autumn - I plant between Halloween and bonfire night
    • plant cloves separately about 6 inches apart two times the depth of the clove
    • make sure the pointy end of the clove is pointing upwards
    • weed in spring, mulch in April.
    • harvest when half the leaves have gone brown-usually June onwards
    • dry before storage (unless you want wet garlic that doesn't store as well)
  • NoraWNoraW Posts: 393

    Hi AJ203,

    There are several guides to growing garlic here on the website which you may find useful:

  • I dig out a spade width trench 8inchs deep throw in a goodly amount of bone meal or general purpose fertilizer make sure the soil is a nice texture and free draining, not sodding great lumps of rock solid compacted soil. put the single garlic cloves in the right way up 12 inch apart and 6 inch deep cover over and tamp down. they will be up early spring keep them weeded but don't hoe and don't be anal about it. water if it doesn't rain for more than a week and hand fork over the soil around them leaving a goodly distance from the stem to break up any panned soil from the spring weather. as with almost anything if it's not raining frequently,  feed with tomato feed when watering. don't over water,  cease watering 3 weeks before harvest to allow the bulbs to become flavoursome.. don't be expecting huge Spanish garlic sized bulbs you get in the supermarket because you wont be getting them pool ball is about as big as my solent white get. if you want big garlic try the garlic resembling elephant garlic they are impressive but not very garlicy. 

  • GardenGrower11GardenGrower11 EnglandPosts: 305

    I've started garlic both earlier and later than this in previous years with similar good results, although ideally it would have been earlier.

    January is usually the coldest month, so plenty of time for the garlic to get sufficiently chilled if you get it in urgently now, before we get to normal early spring growth. As you will read elsewhere, the cold helps the garlic cloves split and will contribute to larger bulbs.

    No problem growing in large tubs or troughs, with a soil/compost mix maybe, which won't dry out as quickly as just compost.

    Onion family are not heavy feeders, so don't over do it, or that could be contributing to more green growth above ground and smaller bulbs.

    Onion family also prefer more neutral pH, so if you need to do any watering, use tap water, not rain water.

  • BLTBLT Posts: 525

    I p;anted my garlic back in october to give it as long as possible. This year I bought ny bulbs from a garden centre rather than buy from the supermarket and break up and plant those.. So this year maybe I will get a decent crop .Fingered crossed...

    Good luck with your garlic growing efforts.


    Great Website from the isle of wight garlic farm, gives lots of tips, hints and even a growning calendar

  • HotspurHotspur Posts: 30

    Most above comments will get you good results. It is important to plant in Autumn as this gives a better chance of the plant achieving lower temperatures. It is vital that the plant experiences a month of sub 10c temperatures to make a good bulb. It is also important NOT to plant supermarket varieties as although you may be lucky to achieve good results, the likelihood is that the variety will not be suitable for our climate.

  • You can get varieties that are better suited to planting in January, rather than autumn, such as Early Purple Wight, Lautrec Wight (autumn or spring but doesn't like to be too wet; apparently it is better for the south of England, so perfect for your region!), Tuscany Wight (spring) and Solent Wight. As mentioned above, you can source it from the Garlic Farm: 

    I am growing garlic for the first time this year, both in the ground and in containers. My allotment has the sort of unyielding clay that you could make canon balls out of and I have waged war on it with a pick axe, rotted wood chippings, bone-meal and some garden centre compost. I plan to fertilize with chicken manure as soon as spring arrives and I plan to keep them well watered and use organic liquid feed, as I hear that contrary to common presumption, garlic are actually moderate to heavy feeders and drinkers. Watering should apparently only be held back in wet periods and a couple of weeks before harvesting.

  • AJ203AJ203 Posts: 15

    Thank you so much for all the advice. I look forward to a more successful harvest!


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