I always like to grow my garlic and onion over the winter as I find this gives me an earlier crop letting me use the same bed for a follow on crop. Here is how I do it.
garlic and onions for over wintering can be planted between mid September to mid November although I have planted as late as December before. I prepare the ground by adding well-rotted horse manure and compost a couple of weeks before but if the area they are going to be planed in is unavailable I may start them off in pots first. Garlic and onion like a free draining soil and cope's well with the cold.
By buying garlic cloves and onion sets each year I get disease free and good stock providing I buy from a good supplier. I have heard about planting onion seeds in august to grow over the winter but this I am currently experimenting with at this time.
I separate the cloves for the garlic and remove the loose papery outer. I dibs holes in the soil and then put a clove or onion set in each hole leaving the tip just sitting above. I then give this a good water and leave them to grow. When the final planting position becomes ready I simply transplant them into place. Birds may well pull the tips out of the soil mistaking them for worms but it's simply a case of popping them back in if this is the case.
Now I just leave them to grow and try to keep weed free. I have found that a weed suppressant membrane placed over the bed at the time of planting really helps keep weeds down. The plants will put on plenty of green growth and I have never lost any to the cold even when it's been covered in snow.
I never water after planting but keep a regular check on them. I find that the growth during the winter is motivating and gives the impression that the land is still working for you when not much else is happening. In the summer months the plants may send up a flowering spike. This is a circular spike that is different from the other leaves but is a waste of energy for bulb production. I cut these off as soon as I see them so all the plants energy concentrates on swelling the bulbs. That being said I have seen other plots that let the plant flower and produces quiet a spectacular display of flowers.
Garlic and onion grown this way is normally ready for harvest around mid July when the leaves have turned brown and papery. I slide a fork underneath and lift them from the soil. I then leave them to dry for a few days before brushing off all remaining soil and trimming roots and putting them in the window of a dry shed to dry further. After a couple of weeks I'll cut off the leaves and put them in net bags and hang them until I need them in the kitchen.
written by Richard@theveggrowerpodcast.