I am amazed that the price of New Zealand-grown garlic is at about $2 a bulb of cloves.
I think what has happened is a couple of years back the market in New Zealand became flooded with cheap garlic from China.
The New Zealand growers could not obtain a reasonable price for their produce and as a result a number of growers changed to more profitable crops.
In the meantime we found the cheap garlic from China was of poor quality and suspect of unhealthy aspects.
So the tide turned and we looked for New Zealand-grown high-quality garlic but alas fewer growers makes for less supply and up goes the price.
The traditional planting of garlic is on the shortest day.
There is a very good reason for this as the daylight hours are increasing and that promotes the crop to grow and later for the bulbs to form before harvesting on the longest day.
If there is just one vegetable that anyone can grow it has to be garlic, as one plant needs only 100mm (4 inches) of room to grow in fertile, free-draining soil.
The end result of what you obtain, be it a lovely big bulb with lots of cloves or a dismal excuse for a bulb depends on a few factors.
Garlic is a member of the onion family and so it likes similar conditions. They prefer a good amount of natural nitrogen in their initial development, so the use of animal manure especially chicken manure is important.
Garlic requires ample moisture but hates wet feet which leads to root rots and failures. They relish a friable soil with a harder clay pan underneath. Best grown also in a sunny exposed situation where they can be chilled in winter.
Choose a site for planting that is free draining and will not be water-logged in winter.
Work chicken manure and Rok Solid into the area to be planted and also apply BioPhos (the organic form of super). Ensure the top 75 to 100mm of the soil is worked well to make the area friable.
Gypsum and sheep manure pellets can also be applied to the planting area.
Place the cloves about an inch deep into the soil in spacings of 4 inches apart with the point just poking out of the ground.
Water in MBL (Magic Botanic Liquid) which acts as a catalyst aiding the uptake of goodness you have applied to the soil. An occasional spray or drink of the same product will be to benefit, over the growing period.
What happens is firstly the clove will produce a massive root system of white tender roots and a small green sprout. As the chills of winter occur this will initiate the side buds which later, with the lengthening daylight hours and warmer temperatures, will fill out to become cloves. When the tops die back the new bulbs will be ready to harvest.
They should then be stored dry, in a cool airy situation and checked regularly for rots.
To prevent bulbs re-sprouting lightly burn the remaining roots with a candle flame. If you want to keep your own cloves for the following seasons crop, then select the best cloves and don't burn their base roots. Now is a good time to plant.
There are many reasons to grow your own garlic besides saving you the cost of buying what someone else has grown. You will know that your garlic is free of chemical sprays and has all the goodness in it that nature and your soil can provide.
You will have ample garlic for cooking with and for health aspects that this wonderful plant provides.
Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Southland Times