There is something inherently comforting about the process of planting, growing, picking and eating garlic. As a grower it is a relationship you can be sure of. One where you know exactly where you stand. Getting to the end of the harvest that was picked in 2012, this year's harvest is drying off nicely and the bulbs that will become next year's are in a bag waiting to be taken to the allotment and be planted. It's a cycle that is straightforward and reliable, serving as a robust and reliable foundation to the growing year.
Amidst the complexity of growing many different things with wildly varying needs, garlic is a constant. It simmers awy in the background requiring minimal attention, then rewards you with a cupboard full of delicious bulbs to flavour your food through the winter, and beyond into the hopeful, exhaling days of spring and the long luxury of summer. And planting it now in autumn is a clear indication of the end of the growing season, but an end marker with confident anticipation of the following summer when fresh young garlic will be picked as the allotment's abundance reaches its pinnacle.
If you want to have a go at growing garlic it prefers a position in full sun with a well drained, light soil. The bulbs will not tolerate water logging so dig in plenty of organic matter like compost or well rotted manure before planting. This will also keep your garlic fed as they are quite nutrient hungry!
Carefully split your bulbs into individual cloves and plant each clove 2.5cm below the surface of the soil with the pointed end facing up (so the bulb sits just below the soil surface). Plant each clove 10cm apart and in rows 30cm apart. You may find birds are tempted to pull your garlic out of the ground when it is freshly planted so it can be a good idea to cover the area with netting after planting.
If you live in a particularly cold area or your soil is heavy then plant the cloves into module trays during the winter. Fill the tray with multi-purpose compost and place one clove 2.5cm deep in each module; covering the cloves with more compost afterwards. Garlic needs a cold period to grow successfully so place the module tray in a sheltered position outdoors. Garlic grown in this way can be planted out to its final position in the spring when the cloves have sprouted.