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Master Garlic Grower Shares How he Grows Garlic

Stewart Jones, a keen garlic grower from Mansfield Woodhouse in Nottinghamshire, shares how he grows his garlic crop on his plot on the Kingsley Allotment site.

Garlic Netting Tunnel

Garlic Netting Tunnel on Allotment at Mansfield Woodhouse

Varieties

He only grows softneck garlic varieties because of their better keeping qualities along with some Elephant Garlic. He’s currently growing 200 garlic plants made up from: Vallelado, Provence White, Iberian and Early Purple White along with 24 plants of Elephant Garlic.

Seed Saving Garlic

He retains the best of each years crop to provide the seed for the following season. He says

In the last 5 years I have only replaced the odd variety and only if my own crop has started to diminish in size and quality.

Cultivation

Inside Garlic Tunnel

Inside The Garlic Tunnel. 2 rows, then the crawlway and 3 rows.

Allium Leaf Miner

The site has for some years been plagued with Allium Leaf Miner which attacks garlic just as much as onions hence he grows garlic under protective netting. He supports the net with canes on each side and completely weighs it down with bricks on either side. He does this as the construction has to withstand the winter winds and snow. If there is heavy snow he will remove as much as possible to lighten the pressure on the net.

Growing under netting will also moderate harsh weather, reducing wind speed which will reduce wind chill.

Planting

Stewart retains the best of the current years crop to set again the very last week in October. Usually he follows the potatoes which will have been manured and the soil well cultivated.

Because he’s growing under netting, he leaves a space between rows to crawl down and cultivate the crop and to plant out his Longor Shallots (usually 1st April) under the net.

Crop Care

He keeps the crop weed free and feeds with a handful of sulphate of potash around each 3 of 4 plants which is raked into the soil with a hand rake when he plants out shallots on 1st April. Remember, he has to use a hand tool as he’s crawling under the netting.

The netting remains on until May when it’s taken off to be used on the Brussels sprouts. Stewart feels the netting also helps to protect the garlic against rust although he inevitably has to spray for rust once the net is off, depending on the climate conditions at the time.

Watering

Stewart makes the point that keeping the crop watered is important. He’s located in a dryer area of the country, east of the Pennines. He gets less than 700 mm per annum of rain. For comparison, here in North Wales we get around 1150 mm per annum of rain.

He stops watering around mid-June, roughly a month before harvesting the crop in mid-July.

Garlic Crop

A Fine Crop of Garlic!

Finally he says

Although my wife, friends and family use a terrific amount of garlic I intend to reduce October 2019 settings by one or maybe two rows as I am trying my best to grow show onions and although I have a similar net for my maincrop of onions I need the extra space.

I suspect someone is going to have a few red (winner) cards at the shows next year!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
13 comments on “Master Garlic Grower Shares How he Grows Garlic
  1. Kathy says:

    What does he use as a spray for rust please?

    • John Harrison says:

      Didn’t say – but there are a number of anti-fungal sprays available although not approved for food crops. A traditional remedy is to dust with flowers of sulphur

  2. Greta Westwood says:

    My garlic last year,was reasonable in size, I dried it off as previous years, tied it strings and hung it in my garage, it has not kept nearly every clove is sprouting, what have I done wrong? I live in South Warwickshire and have an allotment. Advice please Guys!

  3. Barbara Barker says:

    Do you know of anyone who has tried inserting a piece of copper wire, through the garlic stem, to prevent rust and if so was it was successful?
    I read about it in some literature from The Garlic Farm in the Isle of Wight. However, I cannot find information about it being used.

    • John Harrison says:

      That’s interesting – copper based fungicides like Bordeaux mixture are effective but I’ve not heard of copper wire. Perhaps someone could do a trial.

      • derek796 says:

        Bordeaux mixture is one of those EU can’t have things now! Thankfully it can be easily home made. Copper sulfate and Magnesium or potassium bicarbonate are the two components. I prefer the potash bicarb because it is also good with cucumbers for the fungus that occasionally gets their leaves (US sites have details). Take care when mixing as one is mild acid and ‘tother is alkali; roughly mixed they make a lot of bubbles! Suppliers of chemicals (very cheap) and details are readily available on the net.

  4. Linda Spencer says:

    Lovely article on garlic growing, I grow mine in a polytunnel, as I live in Ireland watering is not usually an issue. By the way I was born in Mansfield Woodhouse and moved to Ireland from there, so I know Stewart’s area very well. I also keep my garlic for sowing the following year and it is fun to try different varieties.

  5. Alan Smith says:

    Had a good crop of garlic, last years planting, and coming up well. However I’ve noticed rust on it, something the other allotment growers don’t seem to have. Is it a viral infection, or indicative of a mineral deficiency in the soil? Last year I added well rotted manure, and limed it in the autumn

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