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.
We had a significant rain event last Thursday evening (7 Feb, 19) in Braidwood with 80mm falling in 2 hours. This is over 3 inches in the old language and resulted in flooded creeks, roads and some houses. It also filled the water tanks and everything in general got a really good drenching.
On Thursday morning before the rain we prepared a couple of beds for planting. One bed was planted with bean seeds while we planted the other bed this morning with a range of seedlings and seeds.
When we prepare beds for planting we like the soil to be well worked and aerated. The heavy rain on Thursday evening formed a crust on the bed and we needed to use a three prong claw hoe also called a 3 tooth cultivator to break the crust so we could plant. What was really interesting is that this evening I gave both beds a light hand water as I do with newly planted beds. As you can see from the photo, the bed we cultivated to break up the crust formed from the rain and planted with seedlings, has retained moisture from the watering, while the bed planted with bean seeds on Thursday before the rain and which now has a thick crust has lost all the moisture from the watering. You will also note that there has not been any seed germination. Bean seeds usually take between 4 to 10 days to germinate. It will be interesting to see how long the bean seeds take to germinate in this particular bed. Previous bean plantings this season has seen germination occurring in 4 to 5 days
At our gardening workshops and on social media gardening groups there is always discussion about no dig gardening. I think this photo shows very clearly the impact of no dig gardening or non cultivation. For good food production, the roots from seeds and seedlings need to be able penetrate and develop quickly, this can only happen if the soil structure is friable.
A ’well structured‘ soil has plenty of living spaces, storage spaces, doorways, and passages (for utilisation by water, gases, nutrients, roots and a vast array of organisms).
The crust that has formed on the bed is a result of compacted soil from the rain, compacting the spaces needed in the soil to enable good water penetration ease of root development and plant nutrient uptake.
PS. The link to the site listed above is quite interesting and well worth a read!
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm