Let’s talk winter veg: Garlic

Winter veg. Those hardy plants that are good for stews, soups, stir fries and roasts. Winter vegetables take longer to grow than their summer friends, anything from ninety to one hundred and fifty days. Over the following series of blogs, let’s look at the staples: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, turnips, silverbeet, lettuce, coriander, beetroot and rocket, as well as the herbs: thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, garlic and shallots.

This blog I’m going to focus on Garlic

I try to spread my planting over April, May and June as our weather is so unpredictable and I like to keep my options open, especially considering the last year has been full of rust – particularly in the Auckland area. As November is usually dry and hot it can lead us into a false sense of security in thinking that summer – and the associated good drying – is here.

People often think that it might be possible to avoid rust and stunted growth for garlic planted earlier in May. December, however, proved to be very unpredictable, with rain and humidity. Harvesting garlic at this time can be problematic as the humidity and dampness inhibit drying and encourage rot and mites.

My feelings are that perhaps Waiheke is becoming too warm for good garlic crops and we might, in time, resort to trading with our neighbours further down the country like the days of old. Garlic, like onions, wants to be pulled from the ground and left to harden off on top of the soil in the elements – this forms a good first skin which seals the garlic and protects it from pests and disease.

In other regions, I would advise to plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day, as per the garlic conditions. In areas where you get frosts, you are less likely to get soil and air-borne diseases.

Remember all plants like to be planted in a rotation which also creates less soil-borne diseases. Garlic especially likes to follow tomatoes.

Happy Gardening, folks!