Garlic Growing Trial

Garlic is packed full of vitamins – especially B6 and vitamin C- and is a staple ingredient in many meals because of its strong flavour.

Garlic Growing Trial

In our trial we want to discover what varieties will grow best, mature earliest, develop the largest bulb size, and have the strongest flavour (at least on our plot on a light sandy soil in the South East of England).

There are five contestants, as shown left to right in the photo:

  • Elephant Garlic
  • Avignon White
  • Champion White
  • Champion Purple
  • Casa L2LA (our homegrown variety – we think originally Germidour)

About Growing Garlic

For an allotmenter, garlic is an excellent vegetable to grow, with easy germination and minimal care and attention. The most important tasks are weeding around the growing plants, and removing any flower stems (or scapes) that appear in the spring.

What garlic does require is a long growing period, and a period of cold weather to help get it going. October and November are ideal months to plant, with March the latest date to sow. For more information see our article on How To Grow Garlic.

Planting Garlic

Garlic is planted as individual cloves, so a bulb needs to be broken apart. It is best to discard the smallest cloves, as medium and large cloves have more energy to get started and will exhibit the strongest growth.

Compared to planting onions, where the sets are pushed into the soil with only the top of their head showing, garlic is best planted a little deeper. In our trial, we planted our elephant garlic so that the top of the head was about an inch or so below the soil surface. The covering was reduced slightly for the other varieties of garlic, but all were covered by the soil.

Regarding spacing, we have planted the elephant garlic at the largest recommended spacing by the seed supplier – in an attempt to maximise bulb size. The bulbs were spaced almost 12″ apart (30cm), with 50cm between the rows. The spacing for the other garlic was a little less, around 9″ for the largest cloves and 6″ inches for the smallest ones (our homegrown variety). Row spacing was also reduced slightly.

The garlic bed was prepared as follows:

  • Dug over with a spade and weeded
  • Rows marked out with canes and twine
  • Rows dug over with a fork, and then raked
  • Row was walked over once to compact the soil a little before planting (our soil is light and sandy)
  • Cloves pushed into soil
  • At this time of year (October), there is no need to water!

Date of planting was Tuesday, 15th October on a dry and moderately warm day in the South East of England.

Garlic Growing Trial Netting

We have covered our garlic varieties with a net (as we do for onions too). Birds will not eat the cloves, but they will lift them out of the soil to see what they are.

The Results

The plan is to provide regular updates on our site throughout their growth.

If you would like to conduct your own experiment please see the links below and feel free to comment on our post or facebook page. It would be great to hear your experiences too!

A Selection Of Garlic Varieties

Sutton Seeds 720

See all garlic varieties currently available on Suttons Seeds.

Hardneck Varieties

Garlic Purple Wight

Purple Wight

Crops early (June) and stores reasonably well (until Christmas).
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.
Garlic Sultop


High yielding variety with a strong taste and easy to peel cloves. Virus-free French variety.
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.
Garlic Vayo


Large cloves with a great flavour.
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.

Softneck Varieties

Garlic Arno


A first-class softneck variety that has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Virus-free French variety.
Read more on Suttons Seeds.
Garlic Germidour


Violet coloured skin and white cloves. RHS Award of Garden Merit winner. Virus-free French variety.

Reed more on Suttons Seeds.
Garlic Messidrome


An excellent cooking variety owing to its flavour. Virus-free French variety.
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.
Garlic Solent Wight

Solent Wight

Large bulbs that are well adapted to the British climate.
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.

Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic

Mild flavoured garlic with jumbo sized bulbs. Excellent baked in oven (roasted in skin).
Reed more on Suttons Seeds.

See all garlic varieties currently available on Suttons Seeds.