Garlic is one of the most valuable seasonal crops in Uganda at the moment. It can be grown in the central, west, north and eastern parts of the country. There are two types of garlic known today:
- Hard neck: This produces a flower like stem referred to as scape, which can be removed and used as a salad accessory. Hard necks include (lautrec wight, elephant garlic, chesnok red and the early purple wight).
- Soft neck: This type does not produce a flower stem. It even stores for much longer than the hard neck. Soft necks include (wight cristo, Albigensian wight, cledor and Germidour).
Garlic is propagated from its cloves. They must be exposed to a temperature below 65°F or they may fail to form bulb when planted. Garlic prefers well-drained, fertile soils with plenty of organic matter.
The plant tolerates a wide PH range, but prefers slightly acidic soils, ranging from (6.2 to 6.8. You can know the soil PH by carrying out a soil test.
Break apart the cloves from the bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove.
Plant each clove 2.5cm below the surface with the pointed end facing up so that the bulb sits just below the soil surface.
Plant each clove 10cm (4 inches) apart and in rows 30cm (12 inches) apart. Water every three to five days during bulbing.
Garlic requires adequate levels of nitrogen, therefore, fertilise, especially, if you see yellowing of leaves.
Keep an eye out on white rot. It is the fungus that may attack garlic in cool weather. Not much can be done to control or prevent the problem, except rotating your crops and cleaning up the area after harvesting.
Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the clue would be to look for yellow tops.
When harvesting, carefully lift the bulbs with a spade or a garden fork. Pull the plants carefully, brush off the soil and let them cure in an airy, shady spot for two weeks. Hang them upside down on a string in bunches of four to six.
Make sure all sides get good air circulation. The bulbs are cured and ready to store when their wrappers are dry, papery, and the roots are dry.
At this point, the cloves should be easy to crack and the root crown should be hard.