The annual garlic ritual

22:09, Jun 09 2013

Plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, and harvest it on the longest. That's the traditional thinking about garlic in these parts. I, however, do not subscribe to that bit of garlic-lore, and have developed a new way of going about timing my garlic planting. Last year I tried planting by the moon, but the results of this were significantly skewed by the chickens getting into the plot and digging the bulbs up any chance they could.

This year's method goes like this:

Is it June? Yes. Is it raining? Yes. Don't plant garlic.

Is it June? Yes. Is it blowing a southerly gale? Yes. Don't plant garlic.

Is it June? Yes. Is it raining or blowing a southerly gale? No. Take the opportunity while you can and plant garlic.

Is it June? No. Don't plant your garlic.

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This year I have gone all upmarket and bought some seed garlic from Mapua Country Trading. I'm planting 20 of the Spanish Red and six from my own stash that I grew last year so it's kind of a competition. May the best garlic win.

To prepare my plot, I added plenty of composted sheep poo and blood and bone for fertiliser, leaf mould to help drainage, and compost just because I like to top up my beds with compost when they're empty. I let that sit for about three weeks before planting. Each garlic clove is 20-30cm away from each other, with the skinny end pointing up. You just press them into the soil so the tip is just underneath the soil surface, then water in and mulch with pea straw, leaf mould or whatever you have on hand. This year I'm using pea straw.

Are you growing garlic? What's your secret to good big garlic come summer?

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