Another month and another star vegetable to grow yourself - garlic!
Preparation and Sowing
When planting garlic it is important to make sure you have a variety that is suited to the Irish climate and to the time of year you are planting it.
If you buy garlic from a supermarket it could well be imported from abroad, e.g. China or Spain – the variety would probably grow poorly in the Irish climate, which is why we recommend you buy your garlic locally.
Garlic will grow in most reasonable soil.
For autumn planted garlic the fertility left in the soil from a previous crop should take it through the winter with a top dressing of general fertiliser applied in February or early March.
For spring planted garlic the addition of compost or fertiliser prior to planting is usually best.
There are two types of garlic varieties: autumn and spring – so make sure you know which variety you have purchased.
Plant autumn garlic in late October to mid-December and spring garlic in February and March.
Push the individual cloves about 2cm below the surface of the soil every 15cm in rows 30cm apart.
Planting direct is normally the easiest method. However, if soil is very wet you can sow in module trays and transplant when sprouted.
As with onions, garlic hates weed competition so keep the bed weed free.
Water occasionally in dry weather, but don’t over water.
Garlic can be harvested green, from April onwards, when the whole plant can be used. Or it can be grown to maturity and dried.
If you decide to dry the garlic then dig them gently out of the soil when the plant has turned yellow (normally in June or July ) – do not allow them to go too far as they lose flavour. Plants have gone too far when they turn brown.
Lift carefully and dry on racks in sun (or indoors in wet weather ) for two weeks.
Rust can affect leaves, but it shouldn’t affect bulbs.
White rot is more serious as it attacks the root. Unfortunately there is no remedy. Do not grow garlic, onions or leeks in that soil again for 10 years.
A way to prevent white rot is to buy your garlic from a trusted source, but this can be easier said than done as some of the top suppliers can still get a bad batch of garlic.