Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cloudehill-Growing Garlic Workshop

Hey all. I'm fresh back from Cloudehill up in the Dandenongs. It's a great garden and now host to a new Diggers shop. See below for a summary of the garlic growing workshop.

Reason to Grow your Own

Only 13% of the garlic consumed in Australia is grown here. THe majority of this garlic is grown using non-organic growing methods which use herbicides and perticides in the process to control pests and weeds

The rest is imported from China,racking some serious food miles in the process and requiring additional use of chemicals (fumigation with methyl bromide).

Growing your own reduces the embodied energy of the garlic you use , allows you to take control of the flavour and relative heat (it’s ranked on a scale from 0-10) of the garlic you have available and , if grown well, will give you a better quality product.

Read on to see how you can grow it correctly.

How to Grow Garlic

Soil preparation: Diggers reccomendation was to add plenty of compost to your bed before sowing garlic. As long as the compost is well-matured you can sow the garlic on the same day you dig in your compost.If you don’t know what mature compost looks like it should smell ‘earthy’ and look like the compost in Bay 5 of our very own compost palace.

To lime or not to lime - Garlic likes a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (6.2 to7). Test your soil to see if you need to add lime . If your pH is lower than 6, then you should add lime. Again, well-matured compost will help to keep your soil ph neutral (around 7). COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST!

We will be testing the communal beds for soil pH and soil texture soon. If you want us to make this a workshop, let us know

When to sow: March and April is a good time to sow garlic. Diggers say that you should plant before the shortest day and harvest around the longest. So it needs to get in the soil before winter. To “bulb up” ,which is the process wherby the single clove you sow becomes the bulb you harvest, the garlic must be in the ground over the colder months.  A clove sown in spring is unlikley to grow into a bulb.

How to sow : ‘Activate’ your bulb by leaving it in the fridge for a week or more. Take out, break in to individula cloves and plant each clove (pointy end up) about 5cm deep (2nd joint on your finger). Plant each clove about 7cm apart.

Maintainance and feeding:
Once the green leves appear above the ground Diggers reccomended feeding fortnightly with a liquid organic fertiliser (Charlie Carp/Amingro) or weak worm juice/compost tea.

Weed control is also important. Gently hoe out small weeds when they appear or even better plant a fast growing nurse crop or “living mulch” such as loos leaf lettuce or asian green (Tatsoi/mizuna/mibuna)
  • From Nov to Dec, depending on variety (the leaves should start to go brown);
  • Fork up and brush off dirt;
  • Tie three or more bulbs together by their leaves;
  • Hang in a dry place with ventilation.
  • After two weeks transfer to a cool, dry place to store.
  • Eat when and how you like :) but don’t forget to keep a couple of bulbs for sowing next year.


Two main types

  • Soft Neck: smaller bulbs and generally store for up to 12 months
  • Hard Neck: bigger bulbs that are easier to peel but only store to 6 months.

...but lot’s of varieties (Diggers have at least 10). Try growing a couple of soft necks and a couple of hard necks of varying heat to see what works for you.

We plan to put some in the communal plot this year (Maybe Korean Red Below)