Garlic is a cool season plant and in the Southern Tablelands region, early season garlic is planted in Autumn generally during March & April. This means you need to be getting ready to plant. However before we look at soil preparation, you will note that I have referred to early season garlic.
Like many types of plants garlic comes in many different cultivars. There are 1,000s of cultivars grown worldwide. In Australia we distinguish different garlics first of all by the group it belongs to then the Cultivar within the group. All the cultivars within a group generally have similar characteristics. For example:
Group name: Turban
Cultivar name: Monaro purple, Tasmanian purple, Flinders Island Purple, Glamour, Italian Purple, Ontos Purple, Shandong, White Crookneck, Xian All the cultivars in the Turban group are early season garlics. The are planted in March to April (early to mid Autumn), they are harvested October to November (early to mid spring) and they generally have a short storage life of around 3 to 5 months.
Monaro Purple (early season Turban) is the most commonly grown garlic in our region. This is an Australian species. Its origin is not proved, however, it is believed to have been brought by Yugoslavian tunnel diggers working on the Snowy Hydro Scheme. Its name derives from the Monaro region in New South Wales and in small part of Victoria near the Snowy River National Park.
In Braidwood a local couple Giles Bonin and Victoria Clutterbuck first started growing garlic in the area some 40 years ago. Followed by Carol and Conrad Kindrachuik market gardeners in Araluen. These two local farmers we now call the “founders ” of Braidwood garlic..
There are also groups of garlic that are known as mid season garlics being planted in mid to late Autumn and late season garlics planted in late autumn to early winter, depending on climate. Generally speaking in our region mid Season garlics are planted in late April through May and
late season garlics planted in late May through to June.
Garlic is a great cool season crop to grow in the home vegie garden or as a significant crop in the small market garden. However if you are investing money and time into your garlic crop then you need to consider much more than I have outlined here, particularly the groups and cultivars of garlic you should consider growing.
According to the Australian Garlic Industry Association (AGIA), Only about 20% of garlic sold in Australia is grown domestically so there is significant room for expanding the national crop. A key factor of Australian garlic production is that the majority of garlic grown for the Australian market is from a small range of garlic varieties that are harvested at the same time, (November & December) and only store well for a few months. This generally means that most Australian garlic is no longer available for consumption by April/ May. That is Australian garlic is available for a short season from late November to around April, with the majority consumed by February / March. (This is referred to as the narrow production window.)
If you want to know more about growing garlic; mid season and late season groups & cultivars you can enroll in our online program.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm