Garlic and Shallots

Giant Garlic





Giant garlic is a biennial. If you plant a single clove (bottom picture) you will get the single bulb (top photo) . All of the plant's resources go into building up the single bulb that will help the plant survive into its 2nd year and set seed.

If you re-plant the single bulb, you should get a plant that sends up a flower stalk and develops smaller cloves (right photo). If left in the ground, when the cloves get large enough, they will repeat this cycle.

A single clove of Red garlic, planted in a well fed soil should develop into a bulb of smaller cloves (left photo) , in its first year.


Planting Garlic and Shallots

If you want to grow beautiful garlic, generous amounts of well rotted animal manue and compost is the key. Garlic is a gross feeder (in more ways than one ;0), and needs lots of nutrients. Choose a well drained sunny spot that has had manure/compost, general fertiliser and lime dug in, before hand.

Break the bulb up, just before planting, and discard (or use in cooking) the smaller cloves, only planting the larger cloves. Plant the cloves with the narrow end up, just covered with soil  (2-5 cm deep). This will depend upon the size of the clove. Garlic hates competition, so keep the planted area weed free and water/feed regularly. Reduce watering one month before harvest to improve the keeping quality. Remove flower stalks when they appear. This will reduce the size of the garlic bulbs when harvested.

Don't wait for the bulbs to die completely before harvesting. Each leaf of the plant equates to a layer of skin around the bulb. The best time to lift garlic is when there are 5-6 green leaves.

Giant Garlic - As the name suggests, produces giant cloves.
White Garlic - (Soft Neck Garlic) doesn't produce a flower so can be easily plaited for storage.
Red Garlic - Garlic with a red colour to skin of bulb
Printanor - The most common commercial type of garlic grown in New Zealand.

Shallots are easy to manage and are more tolerant to a wide range of growing conditions, not to mention great for storage.

Plant in fertile soil enriched with compost and feed regularly. Shallots form clusters of bulbs around the original bulb, so plant with plenty of space. Shallot bulbs don't need to be buried, just press into the soil leaving their necks poking out. Removing their outer skin before planting, will help prevent birds from damaging them, as they like to use the papery skins in nest building.

As with garlic, reduce feeding and watering, in the month of harvest.  When the tops wither and turn brown, harvest on a dry day in late summer, plait if desired and let them dry over a few days before storage. With good airflow and low relative humidity, shallots should store for eight to 10 months.