How to plant garlic and shallots

  • Traditionally we’re advised to plant garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest. That’s definitely true if you live in a cooler climate. Rob likes to get his garlic in around Easter time because in a warmer climate it needs to grow for 8-9 months, in order to catch all the cold days we have ie to maximise winter chill.
  • Dig compost through your bed before planting. Garlic likes the nutrients from the compost and the compost raises the bed which creates good drainage. Raising the soil also raises the temperature of the bed.
  • Garlic and shallots like a soil with a pH of 6-7. If you haven’t tested your soil for a couple of years, now might be a good time to purchase a kit and test the pH.
  • Separate the cloves from the bulbs carefully. You don’t want to damage the cloves as this might cause them to rot in the soil.
  • Sort the big cloves for planting and leave the smaller ones for cooking. The bigger the clove, the greater the size of bulb that’ll grow.
  • Planting garlic and shallots simply means pushing the clove into the soil. In colder climates push it under the soil. In warmer, wet climates just push the clove down by a third or half. This is to avoid the cloves rotting in wet soil.
  • Plant the cloves about 20 cms apart to ensure good air circulation around the plants. Make sure the pointy end is up.
  • Then Rob spreads our favourite rockdust with seaweed fertiliser around the cloves. It’s important to use a fertiliser that has all three elements in it ie N (Nitrogen), P (Phosphorus) and K (Potassium). Blood and Bone doesn’t contain potassium and animal manures are too high in nitrogen, so neither of these is particularly good for growing bulbs.
  • Water it all in well.
  • Within a week there’ll be shoots on the cloves and in 6-8 weeks we’ll dress the bed with more rockdust and seaweed fertiliser to give the plants a boost.
  • If you have cats or dogs or pukekos which might dig your garlic up, put hoops and netting over the bed. See here for how to make hoops.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes