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Growing garlic

When is the best time to start growing garlic? The garlic I harvest are small in size, unlike those available in the market, although they come from the same variety. Multiple shoots/growths leading to deformity/odd shape/pips at time of harvest — what are the probable causes? What is the most suitable nutrient needed by the plant for a healthy and vigorous growth and later a good harvest of large-sized garlic?


The best time to plant garlic is June — traditionally the shortest day of the year (21 June) and harvest on the longest day of the year (21 December). In cooler districts garlic can be planted in May right through to August.

It is possible that garlic purchased from the supermarket has been treated by the grower with a retardant to stop the bulbs from sprouting. This will explain the stunted growth and distortion. Purchase garlic bulbs from garden centres or an organic vegetable shop — that way, you will know they have not been treated with a retardant.

Plant garlic into a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Dig in generous quantities of compost, and an application of general garden fertiliser and lime before planting.

Break the bulb into individual cloves taking the largest cloves from around the outside of the bulb — discard the smaller ones or use in cooking. Break the bulb up just before planting.

Keep the area weed free and if conditions are dry, keep well watered.

Plant cloves with the narrow end up, so they are just covered — approximately 2-5 cm deep. This will depend upon the size of the clove. Reduce watering one month before harvest to improve the keeping quality. If flower stalks appear, remove them as this will reduce the size of the garlic bulbs when harvested.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005