Garlic, known by the scientific name Allium sativum, is a member of the same plant family as onions, leeks and chives. It resembles these plants’ growth habits, forms, and basic flavour profiles. It has a shallow, fibrous root system, and the fruit of the garlic is a multi-divided tuber. The foliage leaves are narrow and resemble fleshy straps, whereas onions and chives have hollow leaves.
Flowers do not typically form; when they do, they are sterile, as garlic flowers do not produce seeds. This is why garlic is typically grown from cloves in Sydney gardens. Understanding what to plant when in Sydney is key to good backyard gardening, so our experts wanted to present this guide to growing garlic.
Understanding garlic growing in Sydney
While garlic production in Australia has declined over the last few decades, there has been a resurgence. This is widely due to the rise in home gardening, sustainable gardening, and organic farming options.
As more people have been looking for easy-to-grow crops, garlic has gained popularity. This is why our plant gurus wanted to share some vital information about growing garlic in Sydney.
Different garlic varieties for every Sydney garden
Two main classifications of garlic can be grown in Sydney -softneck garlic and hardneck garlic. Within each type, several varieties can be easily grown in Sydney gardens.
Softneck garlic is the most common and has the typical soft and fleshy leaves and stems. Varieties of this type include:
- Silverskin garlic: This variety is easily stored for long periods and is popular thanks to its strong flavour and pleasant aroma when cooking.
- Artichoke garlic: With a milder flavour and fragrance, this garlic type has smaller cloves and bulbs and a more paper-like covering on the bulbs.
Hardneck garlic is grown on firmer stalks and has bulbs that are much larger and produce more cloves than other varieties of garlic. Varieties of this type include:
- Rocambole: This flavorful variety is easy to peel and popular for cooking but has a much shorter shelf life than many other common varieties.
- Porcelain: The stark white colour and larger clove size make this a well-known and easily recognised attention to Sydney gardens.
- Purple stripe: As their name suggests, there is a purple colouration on the garlic bulbs’ outer skin and a mild yet delicious flavour.
When to plant garlic in Sydney
If you want to grow garlic in your Sydney garden, you must pay close attention to temperatures. This is especially true of soil temperatures since garlic bulbs are grown underground.
The best time to plant garlic is between March and April in warmer climates. In cooler parts of Australia, spring is preferable. This ensures the soil will be warm enough to not damage the bulb or roots as your garlic grows and matures. Ensuring you have well-drained soil and a sunny, warm location will also help ensure your garlic crop is as healthy as possible.
Is garlic easy to grow in Sydney?
Garlic is a fairly easy plant to grow. Sydney backyard gardens are well suited for this crop as basic growing criteria are met.
Minimal care is needed once the plants are established after initial planting, and they tend to produce a good harvest at the end of the season.
How to grow garlic in Sydney
Understanding the process of growing garlic in Sydney comes down to mastering four key steps.
Our gardening experts have highlighted everything you need to know in this easy reference list. Following these tips will help you be successful with your garlic crops in Sydney.
1. Preparing your garden bed
When choosing a spot for your garlic crop, ensure you find a sunny spot, as garlic needs a lot of bright sun exposure to grow. Be sure to choose a spot where garlic, onions, and leeks have not been previously grown in the last year or two to ensure nutrients have not been leached from the soil. The soil should have a pH of between 5.5 and 7 and be well-draining.
You can work with organic matter like compost to improve the soil quality before planting garlic cloves.
2. Panting the garlic
Planting individual garlic cloves is the most common way to start garlic in a home garden. You can take the garlic bulb and use the cloves to start your first crop.
Separate the cloves and plant them 12- 15 cm apart. Plant them with the pointy end until they are covered by the soil. Do not bury them too deeply, or they will rot before they can sprout.
3. Nurturing the crop: Care, watering, and maintenance
You can add a slow-release fertiliser to the soil when you do the initial planting to boost the plants. You can add more to the top of the soil three to four months later. In spring, when the garlic really starts to grow, you can switch to a nitrogen-based fertiliser to help the bulbs grow bigger. Wait to water the new plantings until they have sprouted, which can take two to three weeks.
The bulbs must dry out some to sprout without rotting in the soil. Once they grow, water enough to keep the soil lightly moist but not saturated. Keep weeds down to avoid competition for water and nutrients.
4. Harvesting and storing your bounty
As a general rule of thumb, homegrown garlic is ready to be harvested around two months after planting. Typical signs to look for include green leaves turning brown, stems starting to soften, and large bulbs being seen just under the soil’s surface. If the garlic is shallow enough, you should be able to pull them out by the stems and leaves.
If not, they should easily dig out with a small garden trowel. To store, brush off dirt and wipe clean with a damp rag. Do not rinse or soak the bulbs. Store in a cool and dry place until you are ready to use.
Pro tips for growing garlic in Sydney
One of the best ways to maximise your success with your garlic crops is to consider companion planting. Planting other crops with your garlic can help you conserve space and get more out of your home garden.
Our experts recommend the following crops for you to plant with garlic:
There are other crops you can also work into your garlic plantings. Still, these are easier plants we recommend for first-time garlic growers.
Getting the most out of your garlic crop
Another benefit of having garlic in your garden is that it is naturally a low-maintenance plant that is generally pest and disease-free. It can even help provide natural pest control for your whole garden!
Due to its aromatic scent, many pests avoid the plant altogether, including common garden pests such as:
- Fungus gnats
- Cabbage loopers
- Spider mites
- Even rabbits!
Beyond enjoying this garden crop’s rich and flavourful benefits, planting garlic can help protect the rest of your garden!
Conclusion: The joy of cultivating your own garlic
With so many types of garlic available to grow in Sydney and the surrounding areas, it is no surprise it has become a popular backyard garden crop. You can choose from various flavours depending on what you want to do with the garlic you harvest. And as a generally low-maintenance and pest-free plant, it is a perfect option for newbies. Growing garlic in Sydney is easy and quite rewarding. This guide has helped you understand the basics of starting your own garlic-growing adventure!
What companion plants are best suited for garlic cultivation in Sydney’s climate?
Plants in the cabbage family, strawberries, roses, and other common garden and landscape plants can easily be grown with garlic crops. As you get more comfortable growing garlic in Sydney, you can talk to local garden centres and landscape experts about other plants you can grow alongside your garlic crop.
How often should garlic be watered during Sydney’s dry seasons?
Watering your garlic can be a delicate balance during the dry season. The frequency will depend on the temperatures and the condition of your soil. Still, a general guideline is to let the very top of the soil dry out between waterings. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and don’t let it dry to the point the leaves wilt.
How do different garlic varieties respond to Sydney’s soil types?
Most garlic varieties thrive in Sydney and the surrounding areas in basic soils. Be sure it is well-drained, has good organic matter, and won’t be too dry or soggy between waterings.