Bumper harvest of garlic: but why?

Back in mid-November I planted this year’s garlic: 27 bulbs of the Solent Wight variety, spread over five pots, left alone back in the baking north-east corner of the garden.

Just after midsummer, I’ve dug them up. Garlic bulb growth slows substantially after the solstice, so although I could’ve left them in a few more weeks to put on slightly more mass, I needed the pots!

Over seven and a bit months, the garlic grew from five unprepossessing pots, topped with twigs to prevent foxes and cats digging in them:

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To a burgeoning set of scapeless spears:

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And finally to our harvest, a remarkable 30+ bulbs (some of them had split!) almost all of “supermarket-size” or greater:

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This is in noticeable contrast to the previous year’s crop, which was reasonable but small-bulbed. The only smaller bulbs are from the big pot containing the pak choi; here they are, alongside those from the other big pot, for contrast:

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Gwenfar did warn me this might happen, but in a scientific spirit (and being aware of the fact that there was only a few weeks of growing left) I thought it worth trying out.

What has made this crop larger than last year’s? I’m not completely sure, but some of the differences were:

  • Fewer, but bigger, pots: these were the biggest pots in the garden; the three smaller ones were as big as last year’s biggest. This is in line with Gwenfar’s own experiments.
  • More heat: last year, the pots were near the decking, in the partial shade of the house; this year, they were in almost entirely full sun.
  • Re-mulching: I left plenty of space to re-mulch, and always watered before I did so (and used our own compost to do it, which has been great.

So nothing conclusive, but clear indications of some of the conditions garlic likes. Those, plus avoiding competition from catch crops, will hopefully guide my next season (when, I hope, I might have raised beds to plant them in.)

Until then, I’ve got more garlic—of an amazing and distinctive taste, utterly different from any you can buy—than I can eat. But I’ll do my best!

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