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As soon as I start to cook any concerns over the state of my breath swiftly disappear, quite quickly I start using garlic in cloves. And while I will avidly munch chocolate or put away cakes, I'd definitely prioritise my allium consumption over all else. For without onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks, food would lose a lot of its lustre.
Oddly enough my passion for gardening is in part derived from the existence of garlic and shallots. So to aid their spread, I thought I share some tips that will help you avoid making some of the mistakes I've made, and help you grow a pungently bountiful and delicious harvest for next summer.
With a deliciously pungent mid-strong flavour, Printanor Garlic is great for both home gardeners and for larger operations. For best results feed regularly and plant sometime between April and July.
WIth massive, mild, and delicious cloves, Elephant Garlic can be used like normal garlic or enjoyed in larger quantities. And oddly enough it isn't technically a garlic and is actually more closely related to Leeks. However for all practical purposes it can be treated like Garlic.
Though if you harvest the flowers and stems when they're small they can be treated like asparagus and have a deliciously nutty, mildly garlicy taste.
You can also plant the small bulbils that form alongside the bulbs to bulk up production, though in the first year they will form a large, round undivided clove, which can be planted the following year to produce a proper bulb.
Incredibly flavourful and delicious bulbs that can be used like an onion. Though the flavour of a shallot is more delicate than an onion, despite having more flavonoids and phenols than any other member of the allium genus. Can be grown in much the same way as garlic.
When to Plant
Traditionally Garlic should be planted on the shortest day (21st June) and harvested on the longest (21 December). However you can definitely get away with planting a little earlier and a little later than this.
Improve your soil
Garlic and shallots does best in free draining soil rich in organic matter. Having richer soil ensures that there are more nutrients readily available in the soil (garlic and shallots are relatively heavy feeders) and will increase the water holding capacity of the soil when it's drier, helping your plants stay happy and healthy.
And growing organic with garlic and shallots works great as they tend to like a soil full of life and packed with beneficial microbes.
Preparing your Beds
Weed and deeply aerate the soil with a garden fork, preferably without turning it.
Plant the garlic or shallots with the sprout facing upwards.
Leave 10-15cm spacing between your bulbs.
To get the spacing right I tend to lay the individual cloves out to get the spacing right before I plant them. Plant so that the tip of the garlic is roughly level with the soil.
Elephant Garlic being planted at my parent's place in the Hokianga
Garlic hates competition. Mulching with Peastraw and Lucerne will help by inhibiting weed beds regularly.
Liquid feed with Kings Ocean Grow every 3-4 weeks through spring to ensure a good harvest. Stop feeding about 1 month before harvesting to ensure the bulbs have time to develop.
Harvest approximately 6 months after planting. Traditionally this means you harvest around the summer solstice (21st of December) but vary the time depending on when you planted.
Leave garlic or shallots to dry in a cool, dark and dry space for 2-4 weeks before eating to help the flavour develop.