British Columbia

Garlic growing: 5 tips for growing in October from a Vancouver urban farmer

Garlic — it's one of the easiest plants to grow, and now is the perfect time to plant.

It's easy and you don't need much space — but don't plant the garlic you get from the supermarket

October is a good time to plant garlic. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Garlic — it's one of the easiest plants to grow, and now is the perfect time to plant.

"If you've never had any planting experience, garlic is very easy to start with, and non-threatening," said Brendan Young, a nutritionist and urban farmer.

"The stuff we grow, it tastes better, and it's going to be healthier for us."

Young gives planting classes to children as part of the Earthbites program, which takes kids out of the classroom and into the school garden to learn about local food.

Here are some of the tips he shared with students at Vancouver's Kitchener Elementary School on Oct. 8

1. Plant in the fall

Young said garlic grows well in cold weather. He said the hardneck variety grows really well in Vancouver, as it is able to withstand the moisture.

Young also said that some people may find their garlic sprouting because they've stored it in their fridge. That would mean they could put that garlic in the ground and grow it.

2. Don't need much space

Young said four to five heads of garlic could grow in a 10-inch pot, and a three by 10-foot raised bed would fit about 40 heads.

He recommends planting each clove at a depth of twice the clove's length, and each clove a hand-width apart.

Young said garlic should be planted with the pointed end facing upward. Don't pack the soil around it too tightly either. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

3. Plant the cloves

Don't plant the whole bulb, but plant each clove separately. Each clove will multiply into a whole head.

4. Break the cloves apart carefully

Young warned to be careful to keep the papery husk around each clove, because if it breaks apart then moisture will get inside and rot the clove.

5. Use local varieties

Young said about two-thirds of the garlic that is sold in Canada is imported from China. He warned against trying to plant these varieties (even if they do sprout in the fridge) because garlic can transport viruses, and so planting them would spread those viruses.

He also said that garlic from a supermarket may have been treated with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting. For both these reasons he recommends using local varieties.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Garlic growing tips from an Earthbites instructor and nutritionist

With files from Margaret Gallagher


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