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How to grow garlic

There are a ton of confusing information and tips about how to grow garlic on the internet. We’ve worked really hard to gather articles that are specifically tailored to South African planting conditions and climate, so that your planting and harvesting experience will go as smoothly as possible.

If anything is unclear, kindly contact us on 082 33 22 600.

Table of Contents

Where and when can I order garlic seed?

Due to the huge demand for garlic in our country we have decided to open for orders a bit sooner this year. We are now ready to take your seed orders. Seed will be ready for delivery in February 2025. Kindly complete the order form on the order page to request a quote. Place your order now to avoid disappointment!

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What does garlic seeds look like?

Garlic seeds are the individual cloves that make up the bulb that you buy in supermarkets. The bulbs are split open, and the cloves are used for planting. After planting the clove, it will form another bulb which consists, once again of many cloves.

Garlic seeds

Which variety is best to grow in SA?

When you grow garlic, selecting the right variety is crucial for a successful harvest:

The Egyptian White Garlic is a softneck type that is quite strong in flavor and white in color. Egyptian White Garlic is a great storage garlic and will last many months if stored in a cool dry area. Plants are robust with normal sized cloves. This garlic has a mild and delicious flavor. The Egyptian Pink Garlic – is well adapted, easy grower and popular with consumers.

When raw, Egyptian garlic has a crisp texture with a sharp, pungent, and spicy flavor, and if crushed, it will emit a strong aroma. This flavor and aroma will lessen with cooking and will develop a mild, savory flavor. The Spanish variety of garlic has fewer but bigger cloves. It appeals to the eye, grows easily, and is sought after on supermarket shelves. It has a medium, spicy flavor and is creamy white in color.

Egyptian Pink Garlic
Egyptian White Garlic

Why are cloves bought off the shelf not good for planting?

When you grow garlic, it’s essential to avoid using cloves bought off the shelf due to their treatment with growth inhibitors, irradiation, and potential disease contamination.

 

“Shop seed” or garlic seed that is bought off the shelf is treated with growth inhibitors that make it sterile to prevent it from sprouting and so lengthens its shelf life. It may also have been irradiated and bleached or even carry disease, so it is useless for planting. Make sure to buy your garlic seed from a trusted and reputable seed supplier like us.

Is there a market for fresh garlic?

There is a rising global demand for garlic and the garlic landscape in South Africa looks promising. Garlic prices are soaring in supermarkets, and it looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. SA needs local growers to supply in the demand for decent quality home grown garlic. 

 

There is also a market for the value-added product like pickled garlic, flakes, and dehydrated garlic. Consumers are becoming more aware of the inferior quality and bland taste of Chinese imports. With the enormous expansion of the health and wellness industry, there is an increasing leaning towards organic and natural products.

 

 Garlic is famous for its healing qualities and health benefits. Local is lekker and so is local garlic. It is much tastier and healthier!

 

When is the right time to plant garlic?

Planting time for garlic is in February/March in the central and eastern parts of South Africa but can be planted until May in the Western Cape and surrounding areas. Garlic is a winter crop and frost resistant. It needs the cooler temperatures and the shorter days of winter to produce sizable bulbs. Planting time for garlic is crucial. Learn when and how to grow garlic to ensure a successful harvest.

proper techniques to grow garlic

How do you plant garlic?

Garlic can be planted by hand or mechanically approximately 140mm x 130mm apart and at a depth of 70mm.

How much garlic seeds do I need to populate a hectare?

40m² = 1 000 Seeds


100m² = 2 500 Seeds


200m² = 5 000 Seeds


400m² = 10 000’ Seeds

800m² = 20 000 Seeds


2 500m² = (1/4 Hectare) 63 000 Seeds


5 000m² = (1/2 Hectare) 125 000 Seeds


10 000m² (1 Hectare) 250 000 Seeds

Which form of irrigation is best to use?

25mm per week. Drip or sprinkle irrigation can be used to water your garlic. Drip is probably more ideal because there is far less wastage of water. Flood irrigation does work in certain soil types. One must just be careful that the water does not wash the garlic seeds out of the ground.

What soil type needed to grow garlic?

Garlic is an easy grower and does well in sandy, loam or clay soil. It is important that the soil is well-drained and evenly levelled out so that the garlic seeds do not lie in pools of water.

How to prepare the soil for planting garlic?

It is essential that your soil gets tested and analysed before planting. Learn how to prepare the soil for growing garlic to optimize your harvest. Correct the pH to 6.5, and make sure your soil possesses all the nutrients it needs for growing and harvesting a great crop. When preparing your soil for planting garlic make sure the soil is aerated and loose in consistency and not too compacted. 

Does garlic need fertilizer?

It is advisable to get a fertilizer and foliar feeding program to supply nutrients that might be lacking in your soil. This will ensure healthier plants, bigger bulbs, and better tasting garlic. Fertilizer might seem expensive, but you will be rewarded with satisfying results when you harvest your crop.

 

Adding fertilizer to your garlic helps it grow big and strong, making lots of quality garlic! Plus, it keeps the soil healthy so you can grow even more garlic next time.

Fertilizer for garlic

Which type of climate suits garlic best?

Garlic is a strong and adapted plant and will grow in almost any climate. It grows in the desert in Egypt and snow-covered fields of Europe. Garlic needs the cooler temperatures to make big bulbs. A good indicator to find out how garlic will do in your area is to investigate how successful onions are. Garlic and onions are both members of the allium family and where the one thrives the other will do too.

How do I control weeds?

Keeping your field free of weeds is important. Weeds can keep sunlight from reaching the garlic plants. It also takes up water and other nutrients that was meant to benefit the garlic plants. Use a combination of manual and chemical weed control to get rid of weeds. Make sure that the herbicide you use is specifically registered to be used on garlic. Using mulch is also effective in combatting weeds and retaining moisture in the soil.

garlic grows

How long does garlic take to be harvest-ready?

The Egyptian and Spanish varieties take 7 or 8 months to mature, and the Spanish variety takes 6 months. Decrease your irrigation towards the end of the growing season. Wait until 30% of garlic leaves die down and plants start to fall over before harvesting.

Do regular spot checks during the growing season.

Examine your plants frequently throughout the season to make sure it is healthy and not plagued by insects. Look at the roots, stems and bulbs. You can even send samples of leaves away for analysis to see if you suspect that there are any problems. Treatment is always more effective when problems are detected early.

Where and when can I order garlic seed?

Garlic is mostly harvested by hand. Some farmers have adapted or modified potato harvesters to harvest their garlic mechanically. Make sure that you do not injure or damage the bulbs when harvesting.

Curing and storing garlic under the right conditions are important.

Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs while they cure. Bundle 8 to 10 garlic stems together, tie with string, and hang bulb-side down in a cool, dark space. Allow the bulbs to cure for three to four weeks.  The key to proper curing is providing good air circulation between the bulbs. As the garlic dries, the skin shrinks and turns papery, forming a protective barrier against moisture and mold.

 

Don’t remove the leaves while the garlic is curing. The bulb continues to draw moisture from the leaves and roots. Keeping [the leaves intact also help to prevent fungi or other lurking contaminants from spoiling the garlic before it’s fully cured. Curing is complete when the roots look shrivelled and feel stiff, and the leaves are completely brown and dried. Proper curing will extend the shelf life of the garlic bulbs.

Cure garlic

Why is crop rotation important?

It is not ideal to plant garlic or onions for successive seasons on the same piece of land. Practice crop rotation to ensure both your plants and soil stay healthy.

What is the potential yield?

You can harvest 6 to 9 tons of garlic per hectare, depending on the variety you plant.

Why the fuss about garlic?

Garlic is considered a superfood. It contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium, and other antioxidants (notably allicin). More recent evidence-based research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds, and some cancers. Garlic has natural anti-biotic-like qualities that builds & boosts the immune system. The South African market is growing and needs local growers to contribute to the homegrown demand.

Learn More About Growing Garlic

Mastering the art of growing garlic is essential for a successful harvest. Start your garlic-growing journey today and reap the rewards of homegrown garlic