How to grow Elephant Garlic

I have never been able to grow garlic. It doesn’t matter when I plant it or what I plant it in, I just don’t seem to be able to make it grow.

I’ve tried direct into the garden, in raised beds, in pot plants. I’ve tried hard necked varieties, soft necked varieties, supermarket varieties from Australian farms and other supermarket varieties from China and Spain. All to no avail.

This is going to be a pretty long read. It is the first time I have grown any sort of garlic and actually got it to grow. There are piccies of the different things I tried. What worked and how long it took to get the garlic sprouting and growing. If you want to get straight into How to Grow Elephant Garlic, there is a Six point plan for you at the end, so you don’t have to go back and re-read all the information.

Fortunately, I am pretty stubborn and don’t like to admit defeat. I needed to solve this problem. So I went back to Professor YouTube and Dr. Google with more questions, looking for the right answers. Along the way I read about Elephant Garlic.

What Did I Learn?

From all the blog posts read and videos watched, there were a number of stand out points. That is that you need to pick the right variety of  garlic for your garlic. And if you are in a warm to hot climate, Elephant Garlic would be better suited.

Part of the reason for doing posts like this is that it makes me get my facts straight before writing and helps me remember what I have learnt. The best part though is when I forget something, I only have to go back to the post. It is like when I plant something I tell myself that I will remember all the details. Three days later I can’t even remember what I planted and where. Thank goodness for a garden diary and these posts.

Elephant-garlics-in-flower-Organic-Gardener

Elephant Garlic in Flower

Photo: Penny Woodward

Enough dribble, What about Elephant Garlic?

Along the way with my research, I found Elephant Garlic information and Nagles Falls Farms in the Macleay Valley on the NSW North Coast. They grow and sell Elephant Garlic for eating and planting. I figured that if it could grow in the Mid North Coast of NSW, it could grow in Brisbane and even further north.

Elephant Garlic is closer to a Leek than Garlic.
Genetically, Elephant Garlic is more closely related to a Leek than Garlic. It has a less pungent flavour and aroma than Garlic and is quite tasty. I find it quite delicious.

I was impressed with the website for Nagle Falls Farms and their video. Impressed enough to purchase 500 grams of cloves and get it sent. This was back in February and the packaging and quality of cloves exceeded expectation. I decided to buy a further kilo knowing I would be eating some of the cloves that I was supposed to be planting.

1kg-Cloves Elephant Garlic Nagle Falls Farm

1kg of Elephant Garlic Cloves

From Nagles Falls Farms

First Planting March 1st 2023

I couldn’t wait for 1 March to roll over this year, because my research showed that March in Australia is a good month for planting Elephant Garlic. And that is when I planted the first 15 cloves in a prepared, raised bed.

Elephant Garlic

Two months after planting

Six Point Plan For Growing Elephant Garlic

  1. Choose quality elephant garlic cloves: Choose your elephant garlic cloves from a reputable source that provides high-quality bulbs. This will help to ensure that the cloves will sprout and grow into healthy plants.

When I landed on the Nagle Falls Farm website I thought, this will do, no need to look any further. I liked the website, information and the fact they were a certified organic farm. Altogether I purchased 1.5kg of cloves. Both purchases arrived in a strong carton with good protection and the cloves were contained in a heavy duty brown paper bag.

Nagles Falls Farms

Organic Elephant Garlic

  1. Choose the right planting location: Elephant garlic prefers a sunny location with well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.5.

The location for the bed was perfect according to Point 2 above.

I didn’t worry too much about the pH of the soil. Carrots were grown in this bed previously and they had thrived so well we couldn’t eat all of them.

Garlic Growing in Well Drained Soil

Woodchips as Mulch

  1. Prepare the soil: Prepare the planting area by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil. This will help to improve the soil structure, fertility, and drainage.

I had done a good preparation on a raised garden bed by adding more compost and some dolomite lime.

Barebones New Style Cultivator

The robust tines of the Cultivator rake through
all soil types and remove weeds with ease.

Barebones Trowel 

Being used for Planting

  1. Plant at the right time: Elephant garlic should be planted in Autumn, typically from March to May in Australia. This allows the elephant garlic enough time to establish roots and grow before winter. It sort of hibernates over winter and is raring to grow in the spring.

As mentioned earlier, I was looking forward to March as I had everything ready to plant. The raised bed was prepared. I had also added composted woodchips as a weed suppresor, I just needed to plant.

This was easily achieved using the Barebones Trowel. I just had to push it into the soil about 5 cm, lever it back and forth a few times and pop the clove into the hole with the pointy side up. Then cover it over and water when completed.

Little did I know that it was going to take over 30 days to sprout and appear above ground.

This long sprouting time led me to experiment with a quicker method for sprouting.

  1. Plant the cloves: Break apart the bulbs into individual cloves, and plant them about 7 to 10 cm deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space the cloves about 15-20 cms apart, and rows about 30 cm apart.

I didn’t need to break the bulbs into individual cloves as they were purchased as cloves. But if you purchased full garlic bulbs, you would break them apart. Must admit though, that I thought some of the cloves were actually two cloves together. They were that big.

Russian-Garlic-Cloves-Nagle-Falls-Farms

Sprouting Standard Garlic in Water

I decided to try this with Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic not Sprouting

After a month, there was still no sign of the Elephant Garlic sprouting. And I was getting a little worried thinking that the Garlic Curse was still working against me.

It was time to take some further action.

While researching garlic, I had run across some techniques to sprout standard garlic in water.

Hmm what could I scrounge to do the same with Elephant Garlic.

elephantGarlicClovesSprouted0326

Sprouting Elephant Garlic in Water

Containers were needed to hold the Elephant Garlic cloves and suspend them in water. I had a bit of a dig around and came up with ice cream containers and seedling punnets. No need to go buying anything.

The punnets needed some modifications. The base needed to have the bottom adjusted to allow the roots to shoot.

A pair of small scissors did the job in seconds. I did have to stuff the cloves in so they all touched the water.

Punnets and Icecream Containers

On the right the Reddish colour Bulla ice cream containers were the best for holding the cloves of Elephant Garlic. They were a good fit for two punnets, without any need to do anything else. The blue Streets containers on the left could only fit cross ways.

I wasn’t expecting miracles, but was pleasantly surprised when the roots started to sprout only 2 days after suspending the cloves into the water.

All I had to do was pick up the punnets, turn them upside down and see how much root growth there was.

Makeshift Containers

To sprout Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic Planted 1 Mar 2023

Photo Taken 21 May 2023

  1. Plant the cloves: Break apart the bulbs into individual cloves, and plant them about 7 to 10 cm deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space the cloves about 15-20 cms apart, and rows about 30 cm apart.

I haven’t got as far as the harvesting any of the Elephant Garlic yet. But I will update the post from time to time to show you what is happening.

Just as I had got the Elephant Garlic experiment in water started, the first of the cloves planted directly in the bed sprouted on 4 April. Thirty five days after planting.

It took 2 months for all of the 15 cloves to sprout in the raised bed. It will be late summer before they are harvested. Hopefully they will have developed big bulbs with a number of cloves to each bulb. 

The first clove from the original planting on 1 March poked it’s head above ground on 4 April.

What happened to the Water Soaked Cloves?

Just like the ones planted in the raised bed, they all sprouted and were planted out. I ran out of raised bed room, so planted the final six straight into the garden.

ElephantGarlicInWaterPlanted230411and230423

Elephant Garlic Sprouted in Water

Photo Date 21 May 23

Planted 12 April

root-growth-Elephant-garlic-suspended-in-water

Root Growth Elephant Garlic

Suspended in water before planting

Planted 23 April

Takeaway from this experiment.

  • The reason for planting Elephant Garlic in early March to May  is to get the roots established before Winter takes over and the growing slows right down. When spring comes with warmer weather, the plant comes back to providing energy for the growth of the cloves. Harvest time is about mid summer.
  • According to information on the net, Elephant Garlic takes roughly 8 months to create a bulb with cloves. If not given enought time and energy to create the bulb with cloves, it just produces one clove as a round bulb. I am trying to get my plantings to create cloves next summer. I don’t want to wait another 12 months for the round bulb to create cloves.
  • It takes approximately a month for the first shoots to appear if the cloves are planted directly into the ground early March. The last clove in the first direct planting took seven weeks to appear.
  • Every clove planted grew. In both the direct planting and water sprouted plantings. It really confirmed my view that I had purchased quality cloves.
  • The water sprouted Elephant Garlic sprouted roots within two days. All of the ones I cut into more at the base sprouted in one day.
  • The water sprouted plantings gets the roots growing a lot quicker and shortens the time between planting and developing shoots above ground. This would vary in different locations to Brisbane.
  • I was so pleased with this experiment I am trying it with supermarket garlic. I purchased a 3pack of Australian Garlic and a 3pack of Spanish Garlic from Woolies. So far it is going well, but is a topic for another blog post.

Six Point Plan For Growing Elephant Garlic

  1. Choose quality elephant garlic cloves: Choose your elephant garlic cloves from a reputable source that provides high-quality bulbs. This will help to ensure that the cloves will sprout and grow into healthy plants.
  2. Choose the right planting location: Elephant garlic prefers a sunny location with well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.5
  3. Prepare the soil: Prepare the planting area by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil. This will help to improve the soil structure, fertility, and drainage.
  4. Plant at the right time: Elephant garlic should be planted in Autumn, typically from March to May in Australia. This will give the garlic enough time to establish roots before winter, and it will be ready to grow in the spring.
  5. Plant the cloves: Break apart the bulbs into individual cloves, and plant them about 7 to 10 cm deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space the cloves about 15-20 cms apart, and rows about 30 cm apart.
  6. Care and harvest: Water the garlic regularly, especially during dry periods. Mulch around the plants to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Fertilize the garlic with a balanced fertilizer once or twice during the growing season. Harvest the garlic in mid to late summer when the leaves start to yellow and dry out. Gently dig up the bulbs and dry them in a warm, dry place for several weeks before storing.

Thanks For Reading This Far

I know I can get a little off track from time to time. I found myself getting a bit carried away with trying to give you all the information and things I tried.

There is still a fair way to go before I can really say that I have mastered the growing of Elephant Garlic. The results so far are pretty good compared to any other time I have tried to grow Garlic.

What it has shown me is that these cloves are pretty resilient and can survive some rough handling. I dropped a couple of punnets trying to take photos with one hand and turning the punnet upside down. Cloves went everywhere and some had roots knocked off.

Until the next exciting episode of How To Grow Elephant Garlic

Warm regards…    Nita

Nita from atcProducts

Nita

From atcProducts

2 thoughts on “How To Grow Elephant Garlic

  1. Ray says:

    Hi Nita, just read your episode. I have just planted 75 Nagles Falls cloves at the start of April. No sprouts as yet – 18th April. I would like to keep in touch re our garlic journey, if that’s ok, so we can grow a better crop. I’m just out of Taree – inland in the mountains. I’m retired and am starting to have some fun in lieu of working. Talk soon. Ray.

    • Jannita Nieves says:

      Thanks for getting in touch and well done! I hope your crop is a success! Here’s what’s happening with my elephant garlic.

      I got a great amount of garlic from the 40 or so you planted back in 2023. They were harvested around November. Unfortunately, quite a lot of rain fell and some of the bulbs were ruined. I also hadn’t put a lot of thought into how I was going to dry them. So I sort of had them turned upside down with the bulbs hanging onto the inside edge of the wheelbarrow. There were quite a few small round bulbs that will be replanted as well.

      Remembering the planting from last year, I got the best bulbs from the wheelbarrow and stored them to plant on the 1st of March. I had the bed prepared waiting for them. They were slower to poke their heads above ground than last year. It is 23 April now and I only have 19 of the 40 bulbs I planted.

      I put this down to the crazy wet and hot weather and the fact that my bulbs were not of the same quality as the first ones I got from Nagle Farms. In fact they were so poorly looked after being dug up some of them went mouldy from not enough air circulation. This year, I will get a pair of carpenter’s horses and a few 4 x 2s at least three meters long and place the bulbs between them upside down so they can dry properly in the garage.

      I was more than pleased with the effort of growing and ate twice as much garlic as was planted, even with the atrocious way I treated them. 😃 Enjoy the journey!

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