Not just for warding off vampires, growing garlic gives you an ample supply of one of nature's best healing herbs. There are many different types of garlic but for the first time in many years we have different colours of garlic available for planting now. If you have a sunny spot try some pink, purple or giant garlic it's easier than you think and will add a touch of Masterchef to your cooking this winter.
Besides flavouring, garlic has uses ranging from culinary to medicinal. Garlic is known mainly for its bulbs, however all parts of the plant can be used. Did you know garlic stems work great in stir-fries? Throughout history garlic has been used for ailments ranging from depression, heart disease and more making them almost a necessity to add to the diet in today's world.
Different types of garlic
The two main types of garlic are soft neck garlic and hard neck garlic. Soft neck garlic is the most commonly used garlic. It has smaller and more numerous cloves with a papery skin, which makes it, last longer in storage. Hard neck garlic has fewer but larger cloves with less of a skin and tends to produce cloves which are more popular in cooking. More typically the White and Giant garlic are hard neck and purple garlic is a soft neck variety.
Garlic grows best through dryer winters and as such should be planted in autumn from February through to the end of April. Space them 15cm apart and 5cm deep in a good loamy soil or just plant them in between your other veggies. The idea is that the plant should have as much vegetative growth as possible before exposure to cold which is when the bulbs start to thicken.
Feed with BioOcean to ensure a happy plant and maximum bulb size, sprouting should take place 10-20 days after planting. Garlic has a shallow root system and is susceptible to moisture stress, especially in warm dry conditions. Ensure that they are well watered without becoming water logged and Mulch them to help retain as much moisture as possible.
Harvesting your Garlic
Bulbs continue to grow in size during spring and summer until the leaves begin to dry. They turn tan brown from the tips towards the base of the leaves. Begin harvesting when at least half of the leaves have died back. If you harvest earlier you will get smaller garlic but still perfect to use as you need. Pull the garlic bulbs out by hand or lift using a fork.