Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Brisbane and surrounds in general are probably at the edge of the comfortable range for growing Garlic. So Autumn-Winter are the most likely times to plant cloves and expect a fair harvest. A few tips:

• Wait until the weather cools off before you plant, around mid to late March on current trends.
• If using a rotation, then plant when root crops are indicated. Even though the bulb grows above ground, Garlic does best with minimal soil nutrition and onion-family are considered ‘root crops’.
• If not using a rotation, then prepare the bed with only a small amount of compost or composted animal manures and go easy on nitrogen. Some calcium like Gypsum (clay breaker) is useful as is a little Potassium (potash, K).
• Plant when below ground plants are indicated in the lunar calendar.
• Refrigerate if possible for as much time as you can make - 6 weeks down to a few days will help the bulbs to understand growing time is approaching. With the Garlic we have just got, there will only be a few days possible in the fridge, but some are probably better than none.
• Only at planting time do you separate the cloves. Do not remove any of the skins - some will fall off but leave as much skin on as possible. Do not cut the root section off, either.
• Plant one clove in each space - allow at least 6 inches (15cm) in each direction between cloves.
• Push the clove just under the surface, pointy end up. They can be covered in some mulch, an inch or two at most. Just enough to keep the soil moisture in.
• Keep damp but if it buckets down you might well lose some cloves.
• Once the green shoots poke through give them a watering with Seaweed solution or Bokashi beer. Just don’t make it very strong. With Garlic and other root
crops ‘less is more’. Shoots will appear from a few days to a few weeks to months to years for the ‘little yellow jobs’ which are part of the Elephant Garlic cycle. But with the ordinary Garlic like the ones we have just bought, days to weeks is the most you would have to wait.
• Harvest time varies with variety and season but expect 6 weeks to 3 or 4 months. Pull up the entire plant when it starts to wither. You do not have to wait until the plants are dead. If any show signs of flowering (unless you want to try seeds) remove the flower-stalks to encourage the plant to keep producing cloves rather than waste its energy on seeds.
• Put the plants aside in an airy place out of the sun and with air circulation between the plants. Wait until the entire plant is dead. Trim off the now-dead leaves and trim the now-dead roots. But leave some poking out - say 2 inches of the leaves and definitely leave the pad from which the roots grew. Or plait the bunches if you know how!
• Store somewhere airy and out of the sun. Expect your Garlic to last in storage from 3 to 12 months. Do not store in the fridge though, or you will have the cloves shooting when you don’t want them to shoot.

Some references: Search this BLF site for ‘Garlic’ and find a lot of references and photos. I got a 20-page return for my search. Some of the info and the photos will be useful for individual circumstances.

Companions: opinions vary on this as many other topics! In general, no legumes like the company of any onion-family member. Anyway ... you need lower nutritional levels for onion-family so that reduces your choices. Cabbage family likes onion-family so that’s a start. As do carrots and I’d take a punt with any of the below-ground plants including potatoes.

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Comment by Lissa on April 24, 2015 at 7:18

Planted mine about two weeks ago and I'm thrilled to see they are shooting very nicely. These are from Elaine's Morayfield source. I've also planted some cloves from a purple'ish variety I bought from the fruit shop.

Comment by Roger Clark on April 24, 2015 at 6:20

Thanks Elaine,

Yes the garlic I harvested in November was hung by the foliage, intact, on my verandah, and I am still using it for cooking. Some of the cloves are now starting to sprout green tips, which is why I decided that they wanted to be planted out. I have planted a lot more this year with the aim of not having to buy any garlic at all.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 23, 2015 at 11:47

Looking good Roger! Planning on planting mine in the next day or two.

Since I wrote this post, I have found that the locally-adapted Garlic does not need refrigeration.

As well, leaving the leaves on the entire stems and not trimming the roots helps to keep the cloves nice and firm for 9-12 months. The grower of the Garlic I now use - a Morayfield person, whose ancestors brought the cloves with them from Malta - leaves all the dried vegetation on the bulbs and they do keep very well. You get the odd clove which dries up but I have used most of the crop with few compostable pieces.

Comment by Roger Clark on April 23, 2015 at 9:37

I planted some in March and they are coming up well. These are all from my own efforts last year. I also did not harvest all the garlic last year (thought I had got it all but as there's some coming up this year I obviously missed some). This is bigger at present than the new plants, but as there will be lots of cloves concentrated in a small area I don't expect that they will produce very big cloves (or at least even smaller ones than I got last year). I haven't used the fridge at all, but merely hung all the garlic in a cool dry place, and used it as I needed it. I will try to upload some pictures of garlic that I grew last year and this years plantings. I am growing most in polystyrene wicking beds and some in an old laundry tub.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 26, 2015 at 11:04

How are they going now? It's still a bit warm, leaving mine until April/May so interesting to see the results. It's true about locally-adapted for most plants, takes some time but with canny selection, a few years down the track we have better-performing plants. Or that's the theory!

Comment by Roger Clark on March 26, 2015 at 10:17

I grew garlic last year for the first time. bought "Glen Large" and "Italian Red" (I think) from Diggers as these were supposed to be for warmer climates - I live between Brisbane and Beaudesert. I planted them in polystyrene wicking boxes, shallow soil in sandy loam with some horse manure. They grew well, picked in Oct/ Nov. all were a little small compared to shop bought types, but tasty. I saved a few bunches of cloves to plant this year. I planted out these recently hoping that as time goes by my home grown garlic will develop better as the plants become used to the soil and climate. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 28, 2011 at 22:19
Well sort of Tracy ... I used certified organic which I bought from the shop at Forest Glen. I have used south American Garlic from the shops and it did grow and produce some crop; the Chinese gives you 'rounds' here and cloves in colder areas. It's probably a bit late to grow it now but what's to lose if you've some to hand and especially if it's shooting in storage. Although you can still cook with it when shooting and better, you can plant it in a pot to harvest the green leaves, you won't get cloves but the green tops are way better than nothing.
Comment by Tracy Arnold on June 28, 2011 at 19:40
Did you just plant out store bought garlic cloves Elaine?  Or is that a no-no.
Comment by Florence on April 3, 2010 at 22:18
I cleared half the avocado bed yesterday and planted the bought garlic this morning. I would wait till Monday if I could as it's the root day according to the moon calendar, but I am heading to N.Z. tomorrow ^^

Didn't have enough space for the elephant garlic.. so that will have to wait for next month...
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 2, 2010 at 20:47
Although I have some mixed-derivation Garlic sitting in the 'fridge since February, I decided to wait for the special Garlic which Florence ordered for us. It turned up in an 'above-ground' period so it's still in the 'fridge waiting for a few more days to plant it. The 4th and 5th and the 11th and 12th according to my perpetual moon calendar so I'm expecting to get it out on the 3rd (tomorrow, I've just realised) to let it come to room temperature then it's out on the 4th to put it into the ground.

Recently I found an old Gardening Australia where Pete indicated that lengthening days were important in Garlic growing. However ... by then it's starting to warm up a bit and the growing period is short enough as it is. I aim to have the cloves well-rooted by mid-June and be picking it around August-Sept. We'll see!

Previously with the mixed plantings of Elephant and southern-hemisphere imported bulbs with some local bulbs, I plant in early March and harvest anywhere from August to September. Elephant takes quite a bit longer to produce cloves than do other varieties.

I hope each of us with some results will post so we can get a picture of how this warm-weather Garlic fared against whatever varieties we've all grown before.

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