Garlic (Allium sativum) has been grown since antiquity for it's many medicinal and culinary uses.
There are three varieties commonly grown in New Zealand, the common white garlic, red, and the larger, milder-flavoured elephant garlic.
One of the reasons this bulb has survived so long in the gardening world is that it is so easy to grow and now is the time to plant.
Choose a sunny site with good air circulation. The ideal soil for garlic is light, fluffy and rich. Poorer soils will also grow good garlic if they are well drained.
Lighten heavy soil with the addition of sand, river gravel, pumice, or granulated bark. Organic gardeners will want to spread liberal amounts of wood ashes, charcoal or soot over the planting row and dig this in before planting.
Otherwise, broadcast and lightly dig in about four handfuls of general plant food per square meter of row.
Select large, firm garlic bulbs and break off the individual cloves which are planted pointed tip upwards 9-10cm apart each way and about 2cm deep.
Emerging shoots of young garlic look a lot like lawn grass so don't pull them out when weeding the bed!
By midsummer the tops will start to yellow and fall over. Dig them at this point and allow to dry in the sun for a few days before storing or hanging in braids.
Garlic is a great ant/aphid repellent. By planting garlic cloves over nest sites and especially near the base of roses or other plants affected by ants and aphids these pests will quickly move on to sweeter smelling pastures!
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