Garlic In Our Gardens

Garlic was introduced to Australia from a multitude of cultures and cuisines.  Today the cloves are a popular and commonly used ingredient in many dishes. There are over 300 hundred varieties of garlic, used for centuries to flavour and garnish food.  It has health and medicinal benefits and can be used as an effective natural pest control.
 
Many gardeners now plant garlic each year as it’s relatively easy to grow with little pests to worry about. Garlic grows best during the cooler weather with planting carried out from late March until June.  Select a mostly sunny position, fertile and well drained soil similar to what winter vegetables enjoy.
 
Common Garlic Varieties
 
Italian White - White cloves, good market type.  Stronger flavour than most garlic making it perfect for cooking.  This is a soft neck garlic.

Rocambole -  A white garlic bulb growing to 7cm across with good strong flavour. A great all round garlic with excellent flavour and larger clove size then the Italian. This is a hardneck garlic.

Giant Russian - Very large bulb and cloves. its flavour is milder than other garlic and delicious in stews or roasts allowing all the flavour to be extracted.  Height 90cm, vigorous grower.  Stores for a much longer period than other garlic varieties.

Purple - Purple blush on the garlic sheath and darker garlic cloves. Strong flavoured garlic with large cloves making it easy to handle and cook with.

To plant garlic:  Select plump bulbs and gently separate cloves from the bulb.  Plant direct into the soil with the point of the clove facing upright, push clove downwards so it’s covered with 1-2 cm of soil.  Cloves can be planted close together due to their compact growth habbit - approx. 10-12 cm apart.  Provide compost and a complete organic fertilizer as required during planting and as a side dressing twice during the growing season. 
 
Throughout winter is primarily when the leaf growth does best then as the weather begins to warm up in spring, the plants will quickly form bulbs at the base.  It’s vital to maintain soil moisture throughout the season and not allow plants to dry out.  If plants do happen to dry out, they will die back early and form much smaller bulbs.
 
Harvest & Store:   From October- December when the green tops turn yellow and start to die back it is time to harvest. Dig up bulbs leaving the stems on the plants as these are used to tie bunches together and hang up to dry. Tie stems and hang under cover away from direct sunlight plus provide good air flow.  It will take 2-4 weeks for garlic to dry enough before you can remove the stems and roots. It is now ready to eat!
 
Garlic stores well up to 6 months in a cool dark area. Start to replant again when shoots begin to show.
 
Homemade Garlic Spray:   Effective against aphids, slugs, snails and caterpillars
85 gm chopped Garlic                                                  
500 ml Water
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil                                     
10 ml Soapy Solution 
 
Soak garlic in vegetable oil for 24 hours.  Add water and soapy solution. Strain and store liquid concentrate in a glass container. 
To use:  Dilute 1 part concentrate to 8 parts water.  Spray late in the day for best results and avoid temperatures over 30°C as the oil can damage leaves.
 
Happy Growing this Autumn/Winter!

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