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If you watch certain garden shows, they will tell you that you shouldn’t even try growing garlic in our climate. ‘Stick to garlic chives they say’, but seriously it’s not the same thing at all. Well I am the kind of person that if you tell me I can’t do something, I will be determined to prove you wrong.
For a long time growing garlic in Brisbane has been a huge fail for me. Admittedly I never actually did my research and would just head to local organic markets buy some bulbs and chuck the cloves in the ground. Or if cloves sprouted in my fridge I would throw them in the garden. I don’t recommend this technique at all.
This year I decided to do my research and figure out if there actually was a garlic we could grow. Some things we need to consider.
- It doesn’t really get too cold
- the cool season is very short
So with that in mind I found two varieties that I am planting this year.
Varieties of Garlic for Warm Climates
The two I’ve chosen are Glenlarge and Italian pink and I got these from Green Harvest at Maleny (not affiliated).
Aside from being quicker to grow, the main difference between these varieties and other traditional types is that they are short day. This day type indicates that the amount of sunlight they require to develop a bulb and as they will predominately be growing over winter they need to be shorter day length.
When to plant
I planted mine on the Autumn Equinox (first full moon in March) but you’d be right to plant them right up until the end of April. Any later than that you may find they don’t form before it gets too hot and the rains start.
Planting your garlic
You want to focus on the outer edge of cloves as your best guys. The inner cloves won’t produce a great bulb in the first year (but I planted these anyway in random places around the garden). Break off your cloves and soak in some Seaweed solution (Many people choose to soak their cloves overnight but I wasn’t organised so they got an hour tops of soaking).
Plant them with the flat side down, pointy end up and just below the surface of your soil. Space around 15 cm apart in rows of 40cm (check the planting instructions for your variety)
Water in and wait.
My Glenlarge appeared a week after planting and the italian pink is slowly rolling out after two weeks.
Be aware of space invaders
I had some issues with a tree sucking the life out of our garden bed and the garlic did not like it one bit. Make sure your bed is free from nutrient thieves to ensure a bumper crop.
Because all the information online indicates that you should be harvesting your garlic in November, it’s easy to miss the boat. Which I did particularly with the Glen Large. I left some in a little too long that the cloves started separating. They are fine, we ate those bulbs straight away but if this has happened to your entire crop you may struggle to store them for a long time.
I found optimal harvest for us was mid September – almost bang on 6 months. I harvested as soon as the leaves started to go slightly brown and droop. Any that had fallen over were too far gone. I did a bit of bandicooting on a few to check that the bulb had formed and they all we’re pretty good by this stage.
All up we got around 30 bulbs from the original 4 bulbs that we planted. Albeit they all weren’t as huge as the ones we originally planted they should definitely last us a good percentage of the year.
Curing & storage
Another big issue with garlic in the humid climates is storing it and making sure it’s fully dry and doesn’t go mouldy. I initially had my garlic outside in the sun to dry it, but then I read you could then get sunburnt bulbs! So I bought it under cover and hung them up in a spot that gets a pretty good breeze but protected from rain (which we weren’t getting anyway). I did this until the stems were completely dry, then attempted to plait them and failed miserably.
Saving for next year
Much to hubby’s disgust, I pulled out 3 bulbs of each variety that were the biggest and the best. These I am keeping in anticipation for planting out next year. I hope the second year crop will be more adapted to our specific climate and we get an even better crop next year. I am storing them in my dungeon of an office which is cool and dry.
I am hoping they keep really well until next March when we’ll try it all again! I am sure I will have new lessons and learnings to share with you guys.
Are you growing garlic this year? Any tips you’d like to share?