Garlic is great, gorgeous and good for you. What more could you ask for! Autumn garlic planting is this month and next. If you’ve only ever planted early in the year before, take it from me, you can get some great crops from autumn planting, it often forms larger bulbs and is invariably ready to harvest slightly earlier in the summer too.
There is a good range of garlic available in many garden centres or from mail order suppliers so start looking straight away. I’m a great believer in saving ££ but don’t try to economise by buying a bulb of garlic from the supermarket or greengrocer. Sometimes it will grow just fine but it is much better to pay a bit more and buy the real planting bulbs : They should be virus free and so will produce better plants and they will be grown to be cultivated in the UK (many supermarket garlic bulbs are imported from other countries such as Spain or Italy (or sometimes even China) where the climate and growing conditions are quite different to in the UK, so they are often varieties which won’t perform well here.
Choose a sunny site with a well-drained but moisture retentive soil. I garden on seriously heavy clay but get around the ‘well-drained’ bit by growing my garlic on ridges about 15cm (6in) tall, so ensuring that even in a wet winter the garlic doesn’t suffer from that well known soggy bottom problem. Separate the bulb in to cloves but do so with care and try not to damage the skin. Then plant each clove about 20cm apart, just tucking each one into the soil so that the pointed end if just protruding above the soil surface. I always cover mine with an Easy tunnel as this means that the birds don’t pull them out before they have had a chance to root.
There are plenty of great autumn-planting varieties to choose from and some of my favourites are Albigensian Wight (seriously sizeable cloves and big bulbs), Avignon, Solent Wight, Tuscany Wight, Picardy Wight and Iberian Wight. The ’Wight’ bit isn’t a spelling mistake, it refers to The Isle of Wight from which these reliable and tasty varieties hail!!