Growing big, plump garlic bulbs in your garden is a rewarding experience, especially for those who love this culinary staple’s bold, aromatic flavour. To ensure your garlic bulbs reach their full potential, here are some tips to help them grow big and healthy.
If you are getting competitive, here’s some inspiration – the world’s largest garlic bulb:
A garlic head grown by Robert Kirkpatrick of Eureka, California, USA in 1985 weighed 1.19 kg (2 lb 10 oz).
1. Choose the Right Garlic Variety
Select a garlic variety that’s well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. In the UK, hardneck garlic varieties like ‘Lautrec Wight’ or ‘Purple Moldovan’ tend to perform well. These varieties are adapted to cooler climates and can produce substantial bulbs.
2. Plant at the Right Time
Garlic is typically planted in the autumn, preferably in October or November in the UK. Planting at the right time allows the cloves to establish roots before the winter cold sets in. If you are planting in Srping, you must buy a dedicated spring panting variety.
3. Proper Spacing
Ensure adequate spacing between garlic cloves. Plant them 4-6 inches apart in all directions. Proper spacing prevents overcrowding, which can lead to smaller bulbs.
4. Adequate Sunlight
Garlic needs plenty of sunlight to thrive. Choose a well-drained, sunny spot in your garden with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
5. Fertile Soil
Prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted organic matter. Garlic prefers well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Apply a layer of mulch over the garlic bed. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature, all of which are beneficial for garlic growth.
7. Regular Watering
Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Garlic requires regular watering, especially during dry spells, to produce large bulbs.
8. Remove Scapes
When garlic plants send up scapes (flower stalks), consider removing them. Removing scapes diverts the plant’s energy back into bulb development, resulting in larger bulbs.
9. Adequate Nutrients
Fertilize your garlic plants with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Apply it in early spring and again when the leaves start to yellow.
10. Practice Crop Rotation
Avoid planting garlic in the same location year after year. Rotate garlic with other crops to prevent soil depletion and reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
11. Harvest at the Right Time
Harvest garlic when the leaves start to yellow and die back. Avoid waiting too long, as overmature bulbs can split. Proper curing and storage are essential for preserving garlic bulb quality.
12. Select the Best Cloves for Planting
Use the largest and healthiest cloves from your previous harvest when planting garlic. These cloves are more likely to produce big bulbs in the next season.
Conclusion: Patience and Care
Growing big garlic bulbs requires patience and attention to detail. You can enjoy a bountiful garlic harvest with large, flavorful bulbs by providing the right growing conditions, proper care, and some knowledge.
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!