Garlic, a staple in kitchens worldwide, has specific growth cycles influenced by climate, variety, and planting time. For many gardeners, especially those in the UK, the question arises: does garlic grow year-round?
Garlic’s Growth Cycle
- Hardneck Garlic: Primarily suited for colder climates, hardneck varieties often require a period of cold, or vernalisation, to properly form bulbs. In the UK, gardeners tend to plant hardneck garlic in autumn, allowing it to overwinter and then harvest it in the following summer. Royal Horticultural Society provides insights into the varieties and their specific needs.
- Softneck Garlic: These are generally more versatile and can be planted in both autumn and spring. They don’t require as strict a vernalisation process, making them suitable for milder climates or for gardeners who might have missed the autumn planting window.
While garlic plants remain in the ground for several months, they don’t grow actively throughout the year. Here’s a general breakdown of their cycle in the UK:
- Autumn Planting: Planting in October or November allows the cloves to establish roots before winter. They’ll remain relatively dormant during the coldest months.
- Spring Awakening: As temperatures rise, the planted cloves resume growth, producing green shoots and, eventually, the bulb.
- Summer Harvest: Depending on the variety and planting time, garlic is typically ready for harvest between June and August.
- Late Summer to Early Autumn: This period is often a rest phase in the garlic-growing calendar. It’s the time when harvested bulbs are cured and stored, and preparations for the next planting season begin.
Growing Garlic Continuously
While garlic doesn’t grow actively all year round, gardeners can stagger plantings of certain softneck varieties in the autumn and spring to ensure a more consistent supply. However, practising crop rotation is essential to prevent soil depletion and reduce disease risk. Information on staggered plantings and maximizing harvests can be accessed through the National Allotment Society (NAS).
In the context of the UK, while garlic remains in the ground for a significant portion of the year, it doesn’t grow continuously throughout all seasons. By understanding garlic’s growth cycle and making strategic planting decisions, gardeners can enjoy this flavourful bulb at its best.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!