Overwintering garlic.

This will be the second year that I have overwintered garlic. My theory? One less task for spring.

I LOVE garlic, and so does my partner (he loves it even more than me and could literally use a whole bulb in a simple tomato sauce). I grew and successfully harvested 26 bulbs of garlic last year, a mix of small and medium-sized ones but all with a great pungent taste which grew more mature the longer they were kept.

This week we are down to our last bulb of garlic, so I thought, best plant more this year to keep us going for more than six months. Garlic is fairly easy to grow, slugs don’t like to eat it and it has good tolerance to diseases. Although leek rust is one that garlic tends to get, it normally won’t affect the whole bulb, its growth or make it unsafe to eat – if it’s managed.

Sowing: I sowed two batches of garlic this year, with the first batch a little early on 4 October 16 and the second batch on 21 October 16. I normally sow the garlic sets  2.5-3 cm deep  and approximately 10-15 cm apart depending on the variety. This year I’m trying Thermidrome and Sprint, both purchased from Tamara Organics who has a great variety of organics seeds and sets.

Pests: As mentioned above, the garlic is fairly disease free apart from being affected by leek rust. Leek rust will affect the garlic’s leaves, mostly the outer ones and their tips. My garlic had leek rust last year, but the garlic still did well, so if yours has it, don’t lose hope. You can remove the effected leaves to avoid the disease spreading more quickly but if you can’t or don’t get a chance to, your garlic should still be able to survive if all else is well (soil, weather etc.).

Harvesting: If you are also overwintering your garlic, it should be ready for harvesting in early summer. You will know it’s ready when the foliage starts to turn yellow. It’s best to harvest when it’s ready because if left in the soil for too long, garlic bulbs start to split, making it more difficult to dry. This happened to a few of my garlic bulbs which resulted in some of the cloves having a little mould on them as they didn’t get to dry as well as the unsplit bulbs. Personally, as I don’t like to waste anything I still ate those cloves but made sure to wash off the little bit of mould first!

When I harvested my garlic last year, as it was not a sunny day to leave the bulbs out to dry, I placed them all over random constructions of wire racks and whatever I else I could find to create ventilation, and left them to dry in the kitchen of our studio flat for two weeks when we were away on holiday. I must admit, the house smelt slightly garlicky when we returned, but it was all worth it for the delicious homegrown organic garlic!

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