Today is the shortest day of the year for the Southern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice.
The shortest day of the year is when the sun is appears at it’s lowest altitude, at noon.
It falls on the 20th or 21st of June in the Southern Hemisphere, and 20th or 21st in the Northern Hemisphere,
It’s also the day a lot of gardeners get their Garlic planted.
So if you haven’t got your Garlic in the ground yet, today is a great day to get on with it!
But what’s so special about planting Garlic on the shortest day?
From what I’ve learnt, the reason for planting Garlic on the shortest day is one part tradition, one part ease of memory, and one part purpose.
It’s pretty easy to remember when to plant your Garlic, once you know when the shortest day is.
And since gardeners have been doing that for years, it continues as sage advice.
But the purpose part is obviously the most important part.
At the least, Garlic needs about 5 months to fully mature and getting it in the ground with plenty of time to grow roots, sprout, and then form good fat bulbs is important. Garlic also needs a good Winter chill to instigate bulb growth.
You should be harvesting your Garlic on the shortest day of the year in mid Summer, and so if you count back, nows good in terms of timing.
Another good reminder, other than the shortest day, is to plant your Garlic bulbs after the first frost occurs.
Just bear in mind that if you get very cold, hard frosts, or heavy Snow fall, you might want to cover you bulbs with straw until the Spring.
In saying that, if you want to play it safe and make sure you have a good amount of growing time, you can plant your Garlic as early as April/May in the Southern Hemisphere, or October/November in the Northern Hemisphere.
So, if you have been storing your bulbs from last years batch of garlic, gather them up now and get them in the ground.
If you need to purchase seed bulbs, make sure you pick quality bulbs and then break the individual cloves apart before popping them in the ground.
Planting Garlic is simple.
First prepare an area with free draining, good quality soil.
I then ‘draw’ up a grid pattern with the end of my dibber so I can evenly space my garlic bulbs.
Use a dibber, or a large stick, to make holes for your Garlic seed in the intersection of each grid line.
Place a garlic clove into each hole, with the flat ‘foot’ of the Garlic at the bottom of the hole, and the pointy end facing upwards.
Cover over the all of the cloves with soil and then give your Garlic patch a good water.
The cloves will set down roots over the next few months, and then in Spring, you will start to see the lovely green shoots popping up out of the soil.
Now for the Northern Hemisphere, you won’t be planting your Garlic, but you should be heading towards harvest time!!
I wish you all a great crop, and lots of delicious dishes with home made Garlic to taste.