Growing garlic is a simple way to extend the growing season of the average city garden. Garlic is planted either in Autumn for an early summer harvest or in early spring for a late summer harvest. Now (until the end of February) is the time to get early spring garlic planted in the garden.
Garlic requires well draining soil to grow well. It does not like wet heavy soils which can be a problem in Belgium. However, it does grow well in pots, containers or raised beds with good drainage. Garlic likes a rich soil with compost and benefits from several hours of sunshine per day.
Planting garlic is straightforward. It is important to source good quality garlic bulbs as leftover garlic or store bought garlic is unlikely to produce bulbs (see below). The garlic bulb is carefully broken into individual cloves and planted blunt end down, pointed end up, 1-2 inches under the soil.
Garlic comes in two main varieties, hardneck and softneck. Both varieties will grow in Belgium, though hardneck is better suited to cooler conditions. Once planted garlic requires very little watering. The first green shoots should appear in a few weeks and the plant eventually grow to about 2 feet tall.
Garlic is an excellent companion to tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs. It also has important pest repellent qualities, with slugs and snails particularly avoiding it. As these pest have become a growing problem in recent years it is well worth filling garden spaces and pots with garlic to see how well it may ward of the dreaded “Spanish slug” this season.