Gardeners' World: Monty Don shares tips for planting seeds
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Gardening may seem futile right now with the cold weather and frozen ground, but there are some things you can prepare ready for spring. If you’re itching to get outside and brighten up your green space, there are plenty of things to plan for and even get started on this month.
With more time spent at home due to lockdown, many of us have been looking for ways to improve our homes and gardens.
This even extends to planting food like fruit, vegetables and herbs to save some money and grow produce from home.
There are a number of foods you can grow in your garden, from rhubarb to tomatoes, lettuce to carrots and all manner of herbs like thyme, basil and mint.
You can also grow your own garlic, perfect for flavouring dishes, and it couldn’t be easier.
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How and when to plant garlic
Garlic is part of the onion family and is used in a range of dishes to enhance flavour.
However, for anyone wishing to grow their own garlic you should bear in mind, the plant needs full sunlight and grows best in well-drained sites. ‘
Website thegarlicfarm.co.uk says any amateur gardener can grow garlic, and it is best planted from January to late March.
There are several different types of garlic you can opt for, and each has its own preferences and growing needs.
Make sure you check the type of garlic you are planting to ensure you grow the bulbs to their best.
When planting garlic bulbs first you need to prepare your soil.
Experts at thegarlicfarm.co.uk recommend mixing “lots of good compost long before you want to start planting.”
You need to plant the cloves with at least six inches in between and make sure the location will get lots of sunlight.
The experts also recommend breaking up the bulbs no longer than 24 hours before you plant them being careful not to bruise or damage them.
Then place cloves around 3 to 4cm below the surface, with the root down and pointed end up around six inches apart.
To care for your garlic plants, you need to water during any dry periods during the growing season.
The growing season varies depending on the variety you opt for – with April the last chance for planting.
Typically June and July are the harvesting periods for garlic bulbs.
You will need to stop watering completely during the last few weeks, and make sure you get rid of any weeds as they appear.
When it is time to harvest, you will be able to tell when looking at the plant.
If you harvest too early the plant will miss its final growth spurt, while if it is too late the garlic risks rotting.
Hardneck garlic varieties will be ready to harvest once the lower leaves start to change colour from green to yellow/ brown.
This typically happens from the end of May to the end of July depending on the variety.
For soft neck garlic types, harvesting needs to happen when the lower leaves start to yellow and fold and the garlic goes “weak at the knees” and begins to lie on the ground.
This will happen around mid-May to mid-August, again depending on variety.
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