How to plait garlic that you’ve grown

Are you growing garlic, or thinking about growing it and wondering how to plait it? We have grown garlic on and off and one of the things I love about it, is plaiting it and then hanging it in my kitchen. Every time I see it hanging up, it makes me feel happy and reminds me that we grew it ourselves.

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I find it lasts for ages like that and some years we have managed to be totally self sufficient for garlic from one year to the next.

When should you plant garlic in the UK?

September/ October is the best time to plant garlic, right after you harvest it. However we planted our first batch of garlic in March/ April time and it worked just fine.

When we harvest the garlic, we usually split up some bulbs into cloves and replant them for the next year.

When should you harvest garlic in the UK?

Garlic is usually ready to harvest in September / October time. Wait until the stems have gone brown and either hard (if hardneck) or wilted (if softneck)

The two types of garlic

There are lots of varieties of garlic, but they all fall into one of two categories – hardneck and softneck.  The softneck ones have floppy stalks and the hardneck ones are stiff.

How to plait garlic with a softneck

Softneck garlic has flexible stalks, which means you can plait it. There is a technique to plaiting garlic and you can find out how to plait it here: how to braid garlic

Remember to cut off the hairy roots to make it a neater finish.

Can you plait hardneck garlic?

Hardneck garlic can’t be plaited. You need to use string or ribbon to tie them up using a technique called grapping.  

  1. Tie a knot around one stem to start off with.  Then tie two stems together and tightly wrap the string round both stems.
  2. Add another garlic bulb and tightly wrap the string around the new stem and then the other two stems.
  3. Repeat step two until it is difficult to add more garlic. All the garlic bulbs will be at the same level roughly.
  4. Once you have enough garlic, tightly wrap the string around the stems in a spiral moving upwards to keep them all together.
  5. Tie the string in a knot at the top. Ideally leave enough to make a loop with the string or ribbon so you can hang it up somewhere when you are finished.

You might notice from the picture that the hardneck garlic has round things at the top of the stems.  These are like mini bulbs of garlic.  Apparently if we had chopped them off when they had first formed we would have had much bigger cloves of garlic, but we can use them as mini bulbs of garlic anyway and now we know for next year.

Where to store plaited garlic?

Hang the garlic up in a cool (but not cold) dry place if possible. We usually just hang it in our kitchen but it depends on how warm and humid your kitchen gets as to whether that is a good idea.

Our first garlic harvest totalled 24 bulbs of garlic plus 10 garlic top bulbs from 3 original bulbs. I think garlic is a great thing to grow because it doesn’t take up much space, is inexpensive to buy and it would be fairly easy to grow a years supply in a small garden.