Planning your new enterprise begins with a spreadsheet of what are your expected costs similar to this: garlic costs
Planning does not stop at the cost analysis, it also includes selling your crop. How do you plan to sell? Most of our members sell through the Braidwood Garlic Growers Co-op because the Co-op has established clients who purchase more garlic than any one grower can supply. Many members sell through markets, which involves a lot of time and energy, particularly if you go to markets in Sydney. Some members value add their garlic, selling pickled scapes and various preserves of garlic. Some of our clients use our garlic to make 'black garlic' which is a culinary delight.
Your resources include your own time and labour. There is physical labour in preparing your plot, fertilising, planting, mulching, irrigating, inspecting, harvesting, curing and selling your garlic. Do you have the ability to do this yourself or do you have access to labour where your plot is situated. Some machinery will help, things like a vehicle which can tow a trailer, a large trailer, a small tractor, a means of tilling the soil for establishment. Do you have these resources or do you need to purchase them as you find the need? Can you re-purposing something you already own?
You also need to plan where your enterprise will take place: select your plot
How you will prepare your plot for initial planting: if your plot is not currently cultivated, then you need to think about what it is currently used for and how that affects you turning it into a cultivated plot. Starting with a bare paddock can mean a lot of weeds from seeds already in the ground.
Next think about crop rotation: you will need 3 plots for a three year rotation, so you can crop one, green manure one, and fallow one each year, crop rotation avoids the build up of pathogens in the soil which can destroy your crop. Green manure involves planting a crop which will be turned into the soil to add nutrients to the soil between cropping, legumes are frequently used for this because they add nitrogen as well as nutrients. Fallow is leaving your plot without a crop to allow the green manure to break down in the soil.
When will you plant your crop? This depends on the variety of garlic that you have chosen to grow, or which variety you can get enough seed for your first crop. The cost of the seed is another factor. Clean seed is disease and pest free. Good seed (large cloves) makes good bulbs at harvest. Large bulbs attract higher prices.
Garlic acclimatises to its growing environment. Garlic planted the from imported seed the first year will not be as good as the garlic grown from seed of the area/farm it came from. Garlic continues to improve over 3 or 4 years planting in the same environment.
This table of garlic groups, planting times, harvest times, curing, expected storage, when it will be available to sell and culinary uses may assist in selecting varieties to plant: Garlic Schedule
When will you harvest your crop? Also depends on the variety that you grow.
Where will you store your crop after harvesting? How will you get it from your plot to your processing facility? Sitting in the hot sun in your plot may not be the best place to clean your garlic and prepare it for curing. Curing is discussed in a later page as is storing your seed for your next crop.
Planning your year so that planting and harvesting do not coincide with other major commitments can be beneficial.
Starting small is always a good idea: for instance 10 -- 20 kg of garlic planting material can make a manageable plot to learn on. You can expand in subsequent years and you will have grown your own seed for the next year by not selling all that you harvested.
A tool I find useful is to make a spreadsheet of all the costs involved, like this partial one, which can be modified to your needs: garlic.xls
In your plan for growing your garlic you should create your Biosecurity Plan see https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/your-role-in-biosecurity/primary-producers/biosecurity-management-plan
and a template is available here: www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/toolkit/planner/ which I have loaded here:
NSW Biosecurity Planner
You can also use the farm profile planner to download all the documents you will need to implement Biosecurity Plans all your primary production enterprises here:
You will note that there is no template for garlic per se, but there is a selection for growing onions which is sufficiently similar to be useful. Happy planning.