For more on growing garlic, see here
If you don't have a space ready for Garlic in the garden yet, the best thing you can do is get hem started off in small pots, just split your bulbs and plant the cloves into pots which have been prefilled with a mix of multi-purpose compost, and some vermiculite if you have it (you'll get bags of this in any garden centre), the cloves will be happy enough in these pots for the next few months until you have a site ready. The pots can be placed outside or left in a coldframe or unheated greenhouse...
The story of this years garlic harvest starts here, the harvest of june 2011. Why? well this is when we started our to select the bigger of the cloves to replant. You see - the bigger the cloves you set the bigger the bulbs you harvest. So we dried the bulbs from 2011 and used away at them, picking out a selection of bigger cloves as we went along...
and by the 9th of january I had this, a lovely big box of big cloves for planting....( I was a bit late planting, ideally you want to plant before christmas but i was only pushing it by a week or two so I just ran with it) - you plant Garlic at this time of year as you need a prolonged period of frost to make the clove split to form a big bulb with cloves inside it...
So we planted our Garlic cloves into a 6x4 raised bed, prepped with a working of fish,blood and bone meal fertiliser and some chicken poop compost (composted hen poop from the hen house), we spaced them about 8" apart....you can see you plant the cloves quite shallow, only just covering the point of the clove...and we waited...
apart from the afore mentioned fish,blood and bone meal fertiliser the only other thing the garlic have got is monthly feeds of comfrey....smelly but mighty stuff.
the weather this year hasn't been asw good as last and the garlic foliage didn't start tu turn yellow until mid july, once more than half the foliage has turned yellow thats your signal to lift, leave it too long and it detracts from the flavour...so myself and connie set to work lifting all the bulbs. When your harvestign yours don't just pull at the stalks as this will rip (you need the stalk attached to the bulbs to dry them properly)
after leaving them on a table for a couple of days the stalks have all softened, here I've bent them over the back of the chairs to dry in the sun (yes its currently sunny in Donegal!). The process of drying the garlci is vital if, liek me, you grow a lot of them and want to keep them for a long period. After drying for 2 weeks in the sun (greenhouse bench is ideal) the stalks will go all brown like shoelaces, as they do this all the goodness runs back into the bulb and closes a trap-door on the top of the bulbs locking in the flavour and goodness - meaning the keep for about 10 months in a cool dark location. I keep mines in a make-shift hammock in the shed. We harvest about 85 from the bed and a half we planted. Cost of the bulbs £5 from Altnagelvin Garden Centre in 2011, cost of fertiliser about £2.....2 years and counting worth of garlic for £7.....where else would you get it???
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