Tag: How to grow garlic

How to Grow Garlic: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Grow Garlic: A Beginner’s Guide

photography of garlic on wooden table
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Garlic is know the world over for its delicious flavor and aroma. So it’s no wonder that you want to know how to grow garlic at home. This is great and I have good news for you, garlic is a very easy crop to grow. In most places garlic is planted in Autumn and by that time you will have already harvested most of your summer crops meaning you have lots of room in your garden to work with. Beware that the space you use for garlic will not be freed up until it is harvested late next summer.

How to Grow Garlic

Step One: Planting

You should plant your garlic in mid fall about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes. Make sure it is planted in a location that receives full sunlight (6 or more hours) and has rich, well draining soil. Garlic is not a vegetable that grows well in the shade. Place the individual cloves root side down (the pointed tip should face up) 6 inches apart with the rows spaced 2 inches apart and place the cloves 4 inches deep. Your garlic will have the best chance if you buy garlic specifically intended for growing from a garden center or farm store.

Step Two: Water

Lightly water the soil to help it settle into place. Then cover the soil with 6 inches of either mulch or straw to protect the garlic during the winter.

Step Three: Fertilize

During the spring you will find that your garlic has sprouted. It is important at this stage that you feed the garlic to help encourage healthy growth. A pinch of a nitrogen heavy fertilizer like blood meal will work. Make sure to gently work the fertilizer into the soil around each garlic plant.

Step Four: Spring Care

After fertilizing check to see if the mulch has decomposed over the winter. If it has make sure to add another layer as this will help keep the moisture in and the weeds out. If your garlic grows flower stalks with small bulbils make sure to cut these stalks off. It is important that all of the plants energy goes into the garlic bulb itself and not into the bulbils.

Step Five: Harvest Your Garlic

The time to harvest your garlic begins when most of the leaves have turned brown. You can expect this to happen around the end of July or the beginning of August depending on where you live. You can begin digging the garlic bulbs up but be careful not to damage them. If you don’t take your bulbs out in time they will separate and will not store well.

Step Six: Store your Garlic Properly

The storage process begins with drying the garlic out. This will require at least 2 weeks and up to 3. Make sure to keep the garlic in a shady area with good air circulation. The roots will eventually start to feel dry and weak to the touch. Tear them off. Next you can go with the classic method of hanging the garlic in bunches in a cool airy location.

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Choosing Types of Garlic to Grow

While there are many varieties of garlic we’ll focus on the two most important and common varieties. These are the hardneck and softneck varieties of garlic. The most important difference between the two is in flavor and resilience.

Hardneck Garlic

Hardneck garlics produce stiff stems (hence the name). These stems grow through the center of the bulb. Harneck garlic tends to have a stronger and sharper flavor, especially when compared to softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic will do better in regions that have harsher winters. So if you live in a cold region this is the variety for you. The only real downside is that they do not store as well as softneck varieties.

Softneck Garlic

Softneck garlic does not have a stiff stem in the center and is the type you will usually find at most grocery stores. Softneck garlic tends to have a milder flavor and will grow best in a region with mild winters. If you are interested in creating garlic braids this is the type for you.

Pests and Diseases

Whether you’re new to gardening or have plenty of experience, dealing pests and diseases is a serious pain in the butt. I have good news though. Garlic is a natural pest repellent! There is one pest to watch out for and those are thrips. You will also need to watch out for White Rot. White Rot is a fungus that can attack garlic during cool weather. Sadly the only thing you can do about white rot if it shows up is to rotate your crops and clean up the area after your harvest.

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How to Grow Garlic Indoors

Feel like doing some gardening in the winter but missed out on planting your garlic outdoors in time? well garlic is a vegetable that you grow in the winter indoors. It is definitely not the easiest food to grow indoors as it require lots of light and does not do well with artificial light, but it is possible. If you are interested in trimming the greens as they grow and use them in salads this is the easiest method but you can grow full garlic bulbs indoors.

Choosing your Container

Almost any container will work for growing garlic. Just make sure that whatever you are using has a hole or two in the bottom to let water drain out. If the container of your choosing does not have a hole in the base you should drill a small hole, or if that isn’t possible get a different container. The container does not need to be large, anything around the size of a tin of coffee should do the trick. Use a peice of paper towel or a coffee filter to cover the hole so that the soil you are using won’t spill out.

Prepare your Garlic for Planting

When you plant garlic it is important to separate the cloves from the bulb so you can grow more plants. When doing this you should keep as much of the skin on as possible and get rid of any cloves that feel soft or show signs of decay.

Plant the Cloves

In your container dig a small clove-sized hole 3 or 4 inches deep. Plant the individual cloves with the pointy side up. Cover the cloves with an inch of soil. Next water the cloves until water trickles out the bottom of the container. If any cloves are visible after watering add more soil until they are covered. I would only recommend that you plant one clove per container but this of course depends on the size of your container. If you are using something wide and deep like a bucket then you should be able to plant 2 or three cloves.

Care for your Garlic

It is important that you water your garlic often enough that the soil remains moist but not wet. After a couple weeks you will see some green sprouts pushing out of the soil. If you plan on using the greens for salads and other cooking make sure you leave 1-2 inches of the sprouts so that it will stay alive and continue to grow. If you are interested in growing full size bulbs leave the sprouts alone until you are ready to harvest.

Harvest your Garlic

The time to harvest your garlic begins when most of the leaves have turned brown. You can expect this to happen around the end of July or the beginning of August depending on when you planted. You can begin pulling the garlic bulbs out but be careful not to damage them. If you don’t take your bulbs out in time they will separate and will not store well.