Monty Don shares best time to plant garlic to grow ‘biggest cloves’

Gardeners' World: Monty Don shows how to grow garlic

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During tonight’s episode of Gardeners’ World, presenter Monty Don was planting hardneck garlic cloves in a raised bed. He had some handy tips for anyone else wanting to harvest garlic next summer, especially if you want maximum results. 

Monty said: “I’m preparing some garlic to plant. I do like to get some garlic in the ground in September and do a further sowing or planting in October and even November. 

“It’s a good idea to get them in the ground before Christmas because they need a period of cold in order for the cloves to form. 

“If you put them in too late, you’ll have one solid bulb rather than being divided up into cloves.” 

He continued: “This first planting is invariable for hardneck varieties – there are two types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. 

“What you buy in the supermarket is softneck – and that refers to the stem that is soft, you can twist and bend it. 

“But connoisseurs reckon hard neck garlic tastes even better, and hard neck garlic has this very firm stiff stem sticking out of which the flower grows on top.”

Monty was planting a variety called “caulk” and it is fairly recent, and “caulk is a variety that has been tried and tested for British winters”. 

“The cloves are actually all really big and the reason I’m breaking it up, is you plant the cloves not the bulbs,” he explained. 

“And you only want to plant big cloves – the bigger the cloves bigger the bulb!” 

The gardening expert went on: “There are two things you need to bear in mind when planting garlic. 

“Number one, pointy end up and these need to be planted with at least the height of the bulb above it with soil. 

“Plant them about nine inches to a foot apart and the idea is that these will appear in a month’s time or so and they won’t grow a lot over winter.” 

In fact, “the garlic will really start to grow next April” Monty revealed. 

Secondly, “a raised bed is a really good way to grow garlic” as they like rich soil and good drainage. 

“If you’ve got very wet ground you can grow garlic in containers but they do need to have at least six inches between the cloves and give them room for the roots to grow,” the presenter continued. 

“That way, you’ll have a really nice big bulb which will give you a lovely big plump cloves.

“The other option is to plant each clove in a small pot, grow it on – it doesn’t need to be indoors and it can be left outside and next spring plant it out where it can grow. But ideally get them in the ground if you can.” 

Wherever you choose to plant garlic, it needs to be a sunny spot, and somewhere where it won’t get too wet during the winter. 

Planting garlic now means a harvest in July onwards, once the top growth has begun to die back. 

Leave the bulbs to dry in the sun for a few days before storing them.

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