Onions, Leeks and Garlic

One of my four 'rotation' beds is given over to growing onions, leeks, and garlic (one of Simon & Garfunkel's less well-known songs?). The bed is surrounded with insect mesh for protection against onion and leek flies. The photo below shows the bed in mid-June with garlic at the top, onions in the middle, and leeks at the bottom. At this stage, the leeks are still in their 'seed bed'; i.e. the green trough. 

Onion, Leek, and Garlic Bed (June 18th 2022)


Garlic comes in two varieties: softneck and hardneck. As a general rule, softneck varieties are milder in flavour, mature earlier, have a longer shelflife, and are less hardy than the hardneck varieties. Supermarket-bought garlic is usually of the softneck-type.
We bought a softneck garlic variety (Early Purple Wight) in late November at a reduced price from the Best Garden Centre in the UK (2021). The separated cloves were planted in coir seed compost in early December and left to sprout in an unheated greenhouse before planting out on New Year's Day 2022.  Harvest day was six months later on the 4th July 2022. 

Harvesting Early Purple Wight (4/7/22)

We think there were two smallish bulbs in the original pack; in any case, we harvested 18 bulbs - most of which were larger than the original 'seed' bulbs; each bulb contained about 12 cloves, on average, of varying size...

Harvested Bulbs

Harvested Cloves

Softneck varieties can be stored for up to 9 months once cured (dried). However, the Early Purple Wight is an exception and should be used within 5-6 months (even when cured). Garlic freezes well and, in the past, we have blended garlic (deskinned) with a little oil for freezing in an ice cube tray. This time we just removed the skins & diced the cloves...

Joie Garlic Dicer

before packing into shallow plastic boxes...

Ready for the freezer
... and freezing.

In addition to the Early Purple Wight, we also purchased a garlic bulb (softneck?) from Sainsbury's in February - the separated cloves were planted in coir seed compost, and left in an unheated greenhouse to sprout before planting outside on March 9th.  As of the 4th of July, these were still growing and will be harvested at a later date.

Sainsbury's Garlic (background); Early Purple Wight (foreground)


We still have a few onions left over from the 2021 season. Meanwhile, this season's onions are developing nicely. We are growing the same ones as last year, Cupido F1 and Red Baron, but in a different raised bed.

2022 Onion Bed (4/7/22)

Growing onions from sets are extremely easy: prepare the bed by digging in garden compost, plant onion sets in a line about 4 inches apart (six inches between rows), weed regularly, and water in dry weather. Last year we had a bumper crop so it will be interesting to see if this is repeated this year.


We usually have problems with leek moth and/or allium leaf miner so growing leeks is a bit of a hit-and-miss operation. Using a protective insect mesh barrier helps while a detergent-based organic spray such as SB Invigorator offers some control if there is an infestation. I always expect to lose a few plants and I don't grow leeks every year. They are an extremely useful vegetable as they can stay in the ground over winter.

Someone suggested to me that growing leeks a little later in the year minimizes the pest problem. So this year I'm giving that a try. Leek seeds were sown in late May (instead of the normal February to April) in a window box filled with coir-based seed compost - see photo at top of the page. Seedlings were transplanted into their final position in the Allium bed 4-weeks later and kept well-watered to settle them in.

Leek Seedlings in the Allium Bed (4/7/22)

I'll report later on whether this experiment was successful.


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