Black Country Bugle
SPOTLIGHT ON: GROWING GARLIC
Vampires beware – garlic cloves (the sort intended for planting as opposed to eating) are available in garden centres right now.
Garlic varieties fall into two basic groups. Softneck are the most popular. These produce a lot of smallish cloves that store well.
They are the earliest to be usable, ready as early as June, but only if they are planted in autumn. October is ideal as it gives them time to take root before winter sets in, but you can plant up to December. Softneck varieties include Early Purple Wight and Solent Wight.
Hardneck varieties, such as Lautrec Wight and Chesnok
Wight, are often regarded by enthusiasts as the gourmet garlics. They have fewer but bigger cloves, but they don’t keep well so need using soon after they are ready.
They can be planted in spring to avoid risk of rotting over winter, but autumn planting gives larger crops.
If you’re worried about a dud winter, you could hedge your bets and delay planting dormant cloves outside until early spring. But your crop will be smaller and it won’t be ready until much later in the season, perhaps August or September.
Be sneaky with garlic and start it under cover. Plant individual cloves in a small pot filled with a 50/50 mixture of John Innes Potting Compost No 2 and multipurpose compost. Keep them in a cold frame or greenhouse and plant them out in spring.