Why every cook should try growing your own garlic (and how to do it)
I’m just going to put it out there… If you’re a cook, you should try growing your own garlic.
Firstly I should say, I don’t have a green thumb. Grey maybe? Is that a thing? Luckily I have an amazing husband who is much better at keeping green things alive than me. Even so, garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and once you start cooking with it, everything just tastes so much better. That flavour!!! Plus growing your own also eliminates having to purchase that tasteless, imported garlic that you sometimes see on supermarket shelves.
I’ve been growing garlic now for about 7ish years. While I grow quite a lot (normally 200+ bulbs a year) for a backyard vegie garden, you can easily get started with just a couple of plants. They don’t take up a lot of room and you can even grow them in pots. To give you an idea, 1 bulb broken up and planted will turn into 8-10 bulbs. That’s about 100 cloves of garlic to go into your food. And if you’re anything like me, garlic goes in everything!
To get started growing your own garlic is really simple
Pick somewhere to plant your garlic. It can be a pot or a plot. Make sure the soil is full of organic matter and is ready for planting.
Get some garlic bulbs for planting. My favourite place to get good seed garlic is a local farm or garden store. You can also order from places like Diggers or Garden Express. Bear in mind growing garlic is generally suited to cold weather, however there are exception. So before getting started, do a little research to see what garlic varieties grow in your area.
Carefully break apart each bulb into individual cloves, making sure you don’t damage the base of the bulb.
In this area, you can pretty much plant garlic anytime between mid February to late May. I usually plant around the first frost of the season (mid April), after tomato season has finished and the days have cooled.
Plant each clove pointy end up and 5cm deep. Make sure you space each clove 15cm apart. I find the easiest way to plant is to use a garden stake to poke holes in the dirt, then just drop each clove onto the hole. Cover with dirt and a layer of straw.
Living in an Australian temperate climate, we experience quite cold, frosty winters. Luckily, garlic loves this type of weather. Depending on rain, I normally water 2-3 times per week over the growing season.
It’s time to harvest when the bottom two leaves have browned. Depending on planting time, harvest usually occurs November/December.
After harvesting, each bulb needs time to cure. For me, I hang all my bulbs over an old clothes dryer in the garage and leave them to cure for a month. After that they are good to go!
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