Books for Plant-Loving People
Bare-rooted Rose Time

How to Grow Gorgeous Garlic

They say that to enjoy garlic come Remembrance Day (November), you must plant by Anzac Day, so get cracking! Due to the warmth we are still experiencing, there are a couple of more weeks left in the garlic planting window this year. Fresh garlic, straight from the garden is a divine experience and it is also the way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits possible. It is garlic planting time on The Coast and across temperate areas of Australia right now. Good news is, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and home-grown means more flavour and nutrients. This wonderful veggie can be planted in pots and garden beds and can be used fresh or stored for use all year-round. Garlic (Allium sativum), probably originated in the western areas of Asia, but it is such a long-cultivated plant that we cannot be completely sure. The Ancient peoples of Egypt, China, and India, all have recorded histories of growing and using garlic as a medicinal and culinary plant with some even attributing mystical properties to it. Most commercial garlic is treated with a chemical to render it sterile, so you won’t be able to use those bulbs for propagation and it’s handy to know that there are two types of garlic, ‘hard-neck’ which has flowers and ‘soft-neck’ which does not. Soft-neck garlic will store for longer than it’s hard-neck friend, but I do like the flowers which are also edible, and the spikes make amazing, dried foliage material. Another factor you will need to consider is that you probably won’t end up with as large a bulb size as you find in the shops, but you will have leaves and you can eat those as well. Types to consider: Dynamite Purple, Spanish Roja, White Crookneck, Giant Russian, Melbourne Market.
Along with growing garlic, make this spray from it to combat pests in your garden. Blend together 4 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial), strain into 500ml spray bottle and top with water. Spray onto plants to deter pests. Test on a few leaves first.  Garlic is a brilliant companion plant for beetroot, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, and roses and provides a fair amount of protection from various pests, but it should never be planted alongside beans or peas as it will stunt their growth and production. For medical use garlic has been used as both an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent for over 3,000 years. Garlic is still used for these reasons in herbal medicine today along with treatments for digestive issues, respiratory diseases and for circulatory benefits as well.

Grow Your Own Garlic
Peter Donnelly of Coachwood

I had a chat with Pete Donnelly from Coachwood Nursery at Somersby for his tips on growing garlic on The Coast. He shared that the soil must be open, free-draining and well-prepared with compost. I asked about just planting store-brough garlic. “No don’t do that, “Peter said, “You will find that supermarket garlic will usually come from overseas and be treated with chemicals. If you purchase from local Farmers Markets, ensure that the produce is organic and then that would be ok.”
Soil pH level is best sitting between 6.5 and 7.5 is best and whether you decide to grow in the garden or in pots, find a sunny spot. Garlic can be planted by seed but is mostly cultivated via bulbs. To do this, gently separate the bulb into individual corms. Plant directly in their final designation into the soil with the tips just below the surface and firm down.

Garlic is not a fan of weeds so keep it tidy and water should be consistent but don’t drown your plant. They just don’t like to get soggy feet or humidity. Water seedlings a few times a week until they are a couple of months old and then back off to once or twice a week. Feed every second week with a seaweed-based fertiliser, as they love it and mulch with your usual veggie garden mulch medium but ensure you don’t crowd the plants as air flow and low humidly are important.

Harvest most varieties at around the five-month mark but this will depend greatly on type. You will know they are ready as the leaves will begin to wilt and yellow around this time. Lift gently, keep the leaves intact and hang to dry for a few weeks in a warm, sheltered spot to cure before storing in a cool, dry, dark place. The leaves are left on during the curing process so that all additional nutrients are pulled down into the bulb. Don’t forget to save some of those bulbs for next year’s planting. You can find garlic to grow at your local nursery or online: or and Giant Russian Garlic:

What’s on for Plant Lovers
Dried Flower Workshop at Coachwood Nursery, Somersby. 3 - 5pm Sunday 7th May. Take home a gorgeous flower arrangement that you create on the day! Everything supplied. Just bring along: - your own drink bottle, box to take home your creation, pen and paper for taking notes as there is a lot to learn, a jacket as it can get cool in the afternoons at Somersby and comfortable shoes. Rain, Hail or Shine! Held in the Dried Flower Emporium in the grounds of Coachwood Nursery, 900 Wisemans Ferry Road, Somersby. Information and tickets:

Cactus and Succulent Sale, Charmhaven Saturday 9am – 1pm Saturday 13th May. Central Coast Cactus and Succulent Club have an amazing sale on at the Charmhaven Hall Nararah Ave Charmhaven

More information about the sake and club:  0401544052

Soil, Pests and Predators in Your Edible Garden with Kerrie Anderson, Holgate
9:30am – 12:30pm Thursday 18th May, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm. No matter what the size of your garden, from a balcony to acreage, for renters, community gardeners and homeowners alike, this workshop will help you gain skills in soil improvement and integrated pest management. This workshop is designed for beginners and for those who want to improve their processes. Tickets and more information:

Gardening Planner
late autumn - temperate areas
Time to reduce watering of indoor plants and make sure they are well away from heating. You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via:

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News.