How to Plant Garlic and Onions

Indispensable in the kitchen, onions and their pungent-flavored cousins are a must for every productive plot.

Garlic Cloves are Variety of Strong Scented Allium

Garlic Cloves are Variety of Strong Scented Allium

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. It is a wonderful seasoning to add aroma, taste, and added nutrition to dishes.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 1: Raise Garlic

Plant Garlic Cloves in Late Winter for Summer Crop

Plant Garlic Cloves in Late Winter for Summer Crop

Plant garlic cloves by late winter so that they have produced strong green foliage by early spring. Water well and they will develop plump bulbs to use fresh or to store.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant garlic cloves by late winter so that they have produced strong green foliage by early spring. Water well and they will develop plump bulbs to use fresh or to store.

Plant garlic cloves by late winter so that they have produced strong green foliage by early spring. Water well and they will develop plump bulbs to use fresh or to store.

Grow garlic for an early summer crop of succulent, mild-flavored “green” or “wet” garlic, or wait until late summer to harvest and dry mature bulbs. Place a large, deep pot in full sun on “feet” to ensure it is well drained, and fill with multipurpose compost. Garlic is grown from cloves rather than seeds and needs exposure to a cold spell. Push firm, healthy cloves 1-inch deep into the compost, with the pointed end facing upward, either in fall or late winter. Space the cloves six inches apart. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Keep well watered, since garlic is a thirsty crop, but do not allow the compost to become waterlogged or the bulbs will rot. For fresh green garlic, lift in early summer or, for mature bulbs, wait until the leaves begin to yellow later in the summer. Then dry the garlic for about a week indoors or outside in the sun, before cutting off the stems and storing. Alternatively, braid the stems for a traditional garlic string.

Step 2: Raise Onions

Grow Onions in Pots of Fresh Compost

Grow Onions in Pots of Fresh Compost

Grow onions in pots of fresh compost each year to avoid pest and disease problems that arise in soil. Plastic tubs can be cleaned and reused each year.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Grow onions in pots of fresh compost each year to avoid pest and disease problems that arise in soil. Plastic tubs can be cleaned and reused each year.

These bulbs have shallow roots, making them good candidates for containers. Their strong scent also reputedly confuses pests, such as carrot fly, so mingle them among your other crops. Choose a large pot for a worthwhile crop, place it on “feet” to ensure good drainage, and site in a sunny position outside. Fill pots with multipurpose compost and sow seed 3/4-inch deep in spring. Thin seedlings to about four inches apart. Onions are also easy to grow from small bulbs called “sets.” Simply push them into compost in spring, about four inches apart, so that just the tip is showing. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Keep the compost moist, but don’t overwater or feed excessively, since this encourages soft growth which can be prone to rots. Harvest fresh, juicy bulbs throughout summer, as required, or allow the leaves to yellow and die down naturally, then lift the bulbs and dry them in the sun before storing.

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