Planting garlic is one of the easiest of foods to grow, and one that gives a great return.
Garlic is one of those food stuffs that I’m constantly buying from the shops – we use so much of it at home, practically with any dish that uses a diced onion. Garlic, for me is one of those ingredients (much like the bay leaf) that you don’t notice when it’s there, but you notice when it’s not there – it really can take a meal from A to B in terms of flavour.
I hadn’t grown garlic for over a year, and when I did I grew Casablanca – which is the variety you’re more likely to see in garden centre post Christmas.
Richard, author of Sharpen Your Spades has outlined a brief history of the humble bulb that’s been transforming meal times since the ancient Egyptians – definitely worth a read!
I’ve chosen to grow three types of garlic this autumn, each with their own promises and characteristics – with a view to harvest between June and August.
Garlic Germidour is a soft neck variety that originates from France and is said to be well adapted to British conditions. The most striking thing about this particular bulb are the streaks of purple that smear the outer shells. They really do look like the type of garlic that will keep the vampires at bay! The purple stripes are typical of garlic that comes out of the Midi-Pyrénées region of France.
Cristo or, ‘Wight Cristo’ as it’s sometimes referred to is often recommended because of the reliable, bright white uniform crop that you’re rewarded with. The ‘Wight’/’white’ is a play on words and indicates that this garlic originates from the Isle of Wight. The origins of this garlic variety are illusive and even Wyevale Garden Centres claim that this variety is of French origin. ‘Cristo’ translates to Christ – so I’ll be interested the hear the back story if anyone out there knows more than I do. Cristo certainly had the strongest smell of the three I grew. Cristo is a soft-neck variety.
And we’re back to France with Thermidrome garlic! Again, the origins of this soft neck garlic variety is sketchy at best. The only thing I can find online is that they come from Drôme in Southeastern France. That accounts for one half of the word – and ‘therm’ is the Latin root for temperature or heat, a little odd seeing as the climate is in Drôme doesn’t get that hot. Drome is the Latin root for running… I’m not sure where that comes in either… So, much like the Cristo, if you know the origin of this variety, please do leave a comment.
When you purchase your garlic, you’ll find they’re in bulbs of three or four, so you need to break them up into individual cloves. I chose to plant the cloves in a diamond formation so that you make the most of the bed that you’re growing garlic in. Ideally you need to allow around twelve inches between cloves so that each plant has a fair access to water and airflow and about three inches into the ground.
Tip: As a guide, twelve inches is about a trowels length.
Finally, it’s common for birds to peck out the cloves, so a neat trick I learnt to help combat this was to make an X across the border with some string – the birds don’t like walking over beds with the string in place. I also do this for onions as well.
And that’s all there is to planting garlic, it’s very simple really! If you’re growing a different variety I’d love to know what type and your experience with them.