A staple of kitchens around the world, providing a base for everything from carbonara to spaghetti – garlic is a must to grow. It’s also relatively easy to get going with garlic and if you want to know when to plant garlic in the UK, then read on.
With the right care and timing, you will have a good harvest of your own homegrown Garlic throughout the year, perfect for all those tasty recipes you want to cook up in the kitchen!
Garlic is a member of the allium family like onions, chives, spring onions and the allium flowers you might have in your borders. They’re not too fussy when it comes to specific nutrients, but they do enjoy well-draining soil in a sunny spot in the patch.
It’s also worth noting that there are many different varieties of Garlic, falling into two broad categories; hardneck varieties and softneck – both can be grown in Autumn and Spring though, so let’s jump into when to plant garlic in the UK.
Planting in Autumn
We would argue that the Autumn months (and also going into Winter) are the best for planting out your garlic bulbs, the main reason being that Garlic needs a period of cold to thrive. You can begin preparing your raised beds for Garlic in September, but we’d suggest holding off on planting until October and November.
We tend to say that the third or last week in November tends to be the best time and in the UK we’re seeing slightly milder Winters and Autumns, so going for later months might help your Garlic to have the best run of cold that they need.
If you’re looking at a softneck variety to plant in Autumn, then why not try a Provence, Rhapsody or Maddock. If you’re going to go for hardneck which has larger cloves, then try Lubasha or Elephant (the biggies!).
When planted out in the Autumn months, you won’t need to do much in order for the bulbs to start growing into healthy plants – Garlic doesn’t need much support at all. We suggest watering every so often, but when you start reaching the end of June to mid-July it’s worth not watering them at all to avoid any unwanted rot forming.
If you choose to plant your Garlic in Autumn then you can expect to harvest your crop in early Summer. Times differ exactly, but listen to what the plant is telling you and watch out for when the leaves are turning yellow – this is a sign that your Garlic is ready to harvest.
Planting in Spring
While not as popular as planting in Autumn, many people do choose to plant their garlic in Spring to coincide with the main growing season here in the UK. Spring planted Garlic is still just as great as those in Autumn and if timed well, you could end up with successive crops that give you an abundance of this fine vegetable throughout the year.
When planting our Garlic for Spring, we’d aim for the second week of March in the UK which should then give you a nice harvest in early to mid Autumn – just when you’re getting ready to plant your next batch.
Many of the varieties that you can plant in Autumn, can also be planted in Spring. We’d normally go for more Elephant or Picardy White varieties – both of which give a great crop with excellent flavour and are more suited to Spring planting.
Planting Garlic in Containers
Quite often, we have people come to us asking if a particular vegetable can be grown in containers. For all those container and balcony growers, we’re pleased to say that you can certainly grow this mighty vegetable in containers.
The same rules apply for when to grow your garlic, whether it’s Autumn or Winter – just make sure that for Autumn varieties they are allowed that period of cold that they enjoy. Remember that all garlic enjoys a nice sunny spot, so don’t leave them in the shade. Garlic always benefits from free-draining soil, which can sometimes be an issue in containers – so make sure you add plenty of drainage to your containers and use a well-draining medium to plant.