Garlic Grower's Guide
Throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's garlic was considered a possible alternative crop by many growers and grower's organisations throughout the UK. The Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) undertook garlic field trials on behalf of such organisations as North Maldon Growers and The Development Board for Rural Wales as well as publishing fact-sheets for vegetable advisers and growers alike. Much of the work is as relevant today as it was when it was undertaken and for that reason we have obtained an agreement with the copyright holder to publish some of the available material on the Garlicworld web site. A word of warning! The garlic varieties used in most of the trials were softneck or Creole varieties which may be more suited to the growing regions of southern France (or at best southern England) than the UK generally and yields therefore tended to be variable. Successful growers in the UK, northern Europe (including Scotland and Norway) and North America and Canada have had more consistent results with hardneck varieties and other, more acclimatised, softnecks.
Commercial growers in Scotland and Canada are successfully growing Music, German Red and Leningrad whilst in Germany the variety Weingarten (a softneck) has been a popular choice. Whilst there are records of German Red and Music growing well in Scotland, the organic growers of the north-eastern USA grow a wide range of Rocamboles - Yerina, Marino and Roja being typical examples. The choice of hardneck varieties also brings some changes in the growing calendar - planting should be done in the autumn as a matter of course and you should expect the harvested bulbs to have a shorter shelf-life - typically storing to the end of December rather than March as might be expected from a softneck variety.
Our own experience has shown a consistently better yield from the hardneck varieties and almost always a bigger average bulb size. As with all rules there have been some exceptions - very good results have been obtained with Thermidrone and Germidour (two popular French varieties) and Red Janice, a softneck garlic from the USA. A Chinese garlic variety, American May, typical of an early Mediterranean type, has given exceptionally good yields but there has been a huge sacrifice in flavour for bulb size. Although not yielding quite as well, Music is an excellent variety in both size and flavour and a popular choice for growers in Canada and the north-eastern USA. Details of recent crop yields can be found here but be aware of possible changes to herbicide and pesticide availability and approval - refer to the sections on weed and pest control for up to date information.
Most of this work, originally undertaken at UK horticultural research stations, is now over 30 years old but it is still a valuable source of information :
- Growing Garlic in Hampshire
- Garlic production in Wales
- North Maldon Growers - Garlic
- Vegetable Alternatives
- Guidelines for Cultivation
- Rapid Cooling & Cold Storage of Garlic
- Garlic Production in Spain