Growing garlic in the UK


Growing garlic is easy and though the growing season is long a single bulb can

Garlic bulb
Garlic bulb

produce 15 or more plants, but we absolutely do not recommend buying garlic bulbs from shops or supermarkets to plant in your garden; buy from a garden centre or seed supplier for the best crop. Shop bought garlic may be unsuitable varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow.

Gardeners have different ideas as to when to plant this relative of the onion but I plant mine in mid September before the first frost of the season, indeed, many people believe that a good cold snap stimulates the growth. Garlic is very frost tolerant.

Garlic cloves
Garlic cloves

So you have bought a couple of garlic bulbs and now you need to plant them, so split each bulb into its segments and plant those individually about 1 inch deep with the pointy end upwards. Plant roughly 6 inches apart and try to ensure that your plot is in a sunny position and that you have plenty of compost or organic matter dug in before planting.

You will notice that each garlic bulb contains maybe 15 cloves. I always plant the largest and use the small ones in the kitchen, so out of 30 cloves (2 garlic bulbs) you may end up planting just 20 or 25.

Really and truly that's about it apart from keeping your growing area weeded so that your new bulbs are not competing to grow with weeds.

Depending on the weather in your area you will notice that your garlic stems and leaves are dying off, and this is the time to pull them or dig them out. Dry them out thoroughly before eventually storing them in nets in a dark, cool but frost free place. You will know that they are completely dry and ready to store when the stems have turned brown and papery.

Pests and diseases

When growing garlic you will find that there are few pests which affect it, indeed, garlic is a natural pest repellent itself but it can be affected by White Rot, a mouldy growth fungus at the neck of the plant which makes it become soft and rotten.

Storage Rot is another problem which is caused by several fungi which makes the bulbs go soft and slimy. This can be avoided quite easily by ensuring the stored bulbs have plenty of air circulating around them.