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Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

A common and widely used member of the onion family that has a great, pungent taste which also indicates the presence of the medicinal sulphur compounds. Onion family members are some of the oldest vegetables and existing cultivars of garlic are thought to be incredibly old indeed, probably originating from Central Asia but no longer can we find it in the wild!

Unlike onions, garlic bulbs form out of sight below the ground

When & where to plant?

Planting times are mid-autumn (milder areas); early spring (cold areas)

Locate in a sunny open position, a light soil is preferred.

Use soil that has been manured for a previous crop or, if you are planting in spring, dig in the manure in the proceeding autumn.

How to plant

1. Remove the outer skin and break the bulbs into individual cloves.

2. Use a dibber or two fingers to create holes in the ground for each clove, at 10-15cm/ 4-6-inch intervals. Once you have a row, space the next row to around 30cm/ 12inches apart and repeat.

Use a line of string or edging board to give you straight lines (the latter you can also stand on to spread your weight and flip over to give you regular spacing)… however, freestyle works too (keeping the required intervals for each clove) and we’d recommend intercropping rows anyway with say your onion sets.

Pop the tough ‘heel’ part downwards, with the pointier growing tip upward – although, the plants will right themselves if you forget – pretty cool huh!? 

3. Plant the cloves just below the surface, pushing them in with your thumb, firm them over so that they are covered to their own height with soil.

You can also start your garlic off in individual pots, transplanting them when around 15cm tall


Lift the bulbs when the leaves have turned yellow. Spread them out in a sunny place, undercover out of the elements (mid to late summer).

When they have dried out thoroughly, remove any dirt and any long roots (keep the heel intact), leave the leaves on. If you are keeping them in net bags or trays, remove the dead foliage, leaving about 2.5cm/ 1 inch of stem.


Tie the stems together so that the garlic can be hung in bunches. Resist the temptation to hang your aesthetically pleasing pleated garlic in your kitchen as the warmth and moist air will soon trigger growth!

Hang in a cool but frost-free shed or cellar. Alternatively, place in trays and keep them in a similar location.

A simple way of ‘stringing’ garlic is to thread a stiff wire through the dry necks of the bulbs. The bulbs can also be tied on string

Cultivation Summary!

Planting time – mid-autumn (mild areas) & early spring (cold areas)

Planting distance – 10-15cm/ 4-6 inches

Planting depth – twice the height of the clove

Distance between rows – 30cm / 12 inches

Harvesting – mid to late summer

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