Growing Garlic & Tips

Sun on the garlic fields


Growing it

If you’re starting out raising garlic, make sure you buy a variety that has been specifically bred for cultivating in our climate – these are traditionally ‘soft-necked’, although ‘hard-necked’ types originating in Eastern Europe, such as ‘Chesnok Wight’ also grow well here.

Bulbs from supermarkets can be used for planting purposes but as they are often produced abroad, they may not grow well in the UK. It’s therefore much better to buy garlic bulbs from a specialist supplier who will know which varieties are best for your region.

GarlicTo crop satisfactorily, garlic must undergo a fairly long growing season in the ground and a period (one to two months) of cold when the temperature is below 10°C. For this reason, October and November and February and March are the ideal planting times.

Start by selecting a plump and healthy garlic bulb that is firm to the touch and shows no sign of damage or disease, then carefully break it into individual cloves. Plant these 15cm apart, with their pointed tips 3cm below the soil surface – firm each one in well. If you are growing more than one row, leave a 30cm gap between these. In extreme autumn weather, the cloves can also be planted in modular seed trays (one clove per cell) filled with John Innes No. 1 compost and left in a well-ventilated cold frame (or cold greenhouse) over the winter. Plant the resulting garlic plants outside in March. An alternative is to raise a crop in containers filled with John Innes No. 1 compost – position them in a sunny and sheltered part of the plot.

Turkish Red

Tip – Why the Flavor of Garlic Changes with Time
– Allicin and the Chemistry of Garlic

Allicin is the potent antimicrobial (substance that kills bacteria and other pathogens) that is formed when you crush garlic. Allicinis also responsible for the fresh clean smell of newly crushed garlic.

Garlic does not contain allicin. It contains the precursor, alliin and the enzyme allinase in different cells. When garlic is crushed the two come together in a moist environment to form allicin. Allicinin turn breaks down over a period of days.


Tip – Choosing a Cooking Oil

Most of the common cooking oils – canola, soybean and corn – have a very high probability of containing genetically modified ingredients. Olive trees and sunflowers have not yet been tampered with and so olive oil and sunflower seed oil are good choices. I use olive oil when I want to enjoy its flavor and sunflower seed oil when I do not want the flavor of the oil to intrude on the other flavors.