Autumn vs. Spring garlic – Mr Fothergill’s Nation of Gardeners investigates

Nation of Gardener's across the UKFor the past six months, 18 amateur gardeners across the country have been trialling seeds, plants and bulbs on behalf of Mr Fothergill’s Seeds as part of its Nation of Gardeners campaign.

The representatives, in each region of mainland UK, have received monthly parcels. They have been asked to plant the contents at approximately the same time as each other and to report back on their findings to show what grows best where, and when.

As well as garlic issued in autumn as well as in spring, the gardeners have so far received a plentiful list of broad beans, sweet peas, five different bare root perennials, a blackberry plant, strawberry runners, basil, coriander, four types of salad, peppers, antirrhinum, potatoes, six types of indoor and outdoor tomatoes, and two types of blackcurrant.

One of the key aims of the campaign is to carry out comparative trials of the same variety but at different times of the year. The gardeners have now carried out their first seasonal comparative test having received garlic bulbs in their October and February parcels, as well as some experimental pot-grown garlic in their March parcel. And the results have been fascinating.

Throughout most of the winter, the gardeners reported back about the speed, or lack of, of their October planted garlic cloves. Throughout March, however, there were regular exclamations of surprise as the spring planted cloves burst into life.

On average the first signs of growth for the autumn garlic took 57 days, whereas green shoots on the spring garlic were appearing after an average of 11 days – with the earliest coming through within just one week.

In mid March the garlic cloves in the Ceredigion garden that were planted in October stood at 28cm, whereas the February planted garlic was rapidly catching up and had reached 10cm.  The Staffordshire gardener’s autumn garlic took approximately three months to show life, but the garlic cloves planted at the beginning of February in this same garden took only 10 days.   Similarly, the representative in Renfrewshire was shocked to see her spring garlic coming through after just six days as her autumn garlic had taken two and a half months to show itself.

Commercial director of Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, Tim Jeffries, commented, “These are very interesting results and make the campaign come to life. We set out to see how planting at different times of the year would affect growth and this certainly shows that. The spring garlic really is a fast mover!”

Direct comparison of autumn sown and spring sown garlic

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