Garlic is one of the best value plants that you can choose to grow in your polytunnel. This versatile bulb can be used in a huge range of different recipes and the crop itself will not take up huge amounts of space. Using your polytunnel to grow some garlic can offer great value for money, so, whether your polytunnel is large or small, you should definitely considering planting garlic in your growing space.
When To Consider Choosing and Planting Garlic in Your Polytunnel
October or November is a good time to choose and plant garlic in your polytunnel. Garlic can be planted in the later autumn for overwintering, or in the late winter/early spring. It is important to choose the right garlic variety for where you live as well as selecting the right option for the time of year when you are planting. The garlic should then be ready to harvest from early summer to mid summer next year.
What To Consider When Choosing and Planting Garlic in Autumn
One important consideration when choosing to plant garlic in autumn is how you will ensure that the soil in which they are planted remains healthy and nutrient rich throughout the winter months and into next spring. When planting garlic it is a good idea to mulch the area heavily with a good quality compost or leaf mould, which will slowly release nutrients over the winter and allow the garlic to get a good start when active growth begins in the early spring. A thick mulch will also help to suppress weeds which will compete with garlic once these begin to grow in the spring.
Another important thing to think about is which varieties of garlic are best for where you live. Think about whether you should choose a softneck or hardneck variety, and do some research about which garlic is likely to do best in the climate and soil conditions where you live. Softneck varieties will rarely produce a flower head and will store for longer but are less tolerant of extreme cold so may do better in more southern climes. Hardneck garlic does not store as well but is more tolerant of cold. Some people say it has a stronger and more complex flavour.
Whichever garlic you choose to grow, you will need to think about watering over the winter months. You will not need to water as much as in the summer, but will still need to keep growing areas moist throughout the year.
Growing garlic in your polytunnel is definitely worthwhile. Check out our growing guides to find out more about growing this useful crop, and let us know all about your own garlic growing escapades in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.