This season's bulb catalogues are brimming with the promise of beautiful flowers waiting to adorn gardens across the country this spring.
The traditional bulbs of spring such as daffodils, jonquils, freesia, grape hyacinth and tulips can be relied upon year in year out to put on a dazzling display, but these are not the only bulbs that gardeners are seeking.
There is another group of bulbs getting some well-deserved attention, garlic, not necessarily grown for their flowers which are nonetheless attractive.
Most garlic varieties are planted in March to early April and harvested in October, November but there are some exceptions.
For spring garlic, separate the garlic bulb into cloves before planting; plant the cloves with the base plate down and the pointy end just below the surface of the soil. Space them about 15 centimetres apart with about 30 centimetres between rows and do not water until the plants have germinated. On emergence keep the soil moist, but not too wet during the growing season.
During winter, apply two applications of a complete fertiliser and in the first warm days of spring, apply a nitrogen-based fertiliser to increase bulb size, blood and bone is ideal.
Garlic loathes competition, so keep weeds down by applying an organic mulch once shoots have emerged. Sugar cane mulch or pea straw is ideal.
Garlic is a long season crop, and the tops will begin to yellow as harvest time approaches; this is when watering needs to be reduced as over-wet soils can lead to bulb rot.
Lift plants with the leaves intact and remove any soil from around the bulbs. Drying and curing your garlic is the next important step. Bulbs can be plaited together and hung in a dry airy position to cure.
To give all your spring bulbs the jump on spring, renovate the soil before planting with the addition of organic matter in the form of compost and animal manures. The general rule for planting depth of bulbs is twice the diameter of the bulb.
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Water in well and mark the area with a tag so that bulbs are not accidentally dug up before they emerge. Bulbs can also be successfully grown in containers, single varieties or mixed plantings will provide for a spectacular display, so don't let the grass grow under your feet, get your bulbs in now.