If one ingredient immediately elevates your dish’s flavor, it has to be garlic. With its strong flavor, the aromatic vegetable is a staple in many cuisines worldwide. It is also rich in antioxidants and armed with antibiotic properties. In addition to its numerous benefits, growing garlic is great for the at home cook. You can plant it in your backyard or grow it in containers in your kitchen. Regardless of your chosen method, you will always have fresh garlic on hand!
Here are the top five ways to grow garlic right at home.
Choosing The Right Bulb
Before growing your own garlic bulbs, you must select the variety most suited for your climate. Garlic can grow in different mediums but grows best in zones 3 to 6 (and hardy in zones 3 through 8). There are two types of garlic available for growing; hardneck and softneck.
Hardneck varieties are best grown in colder areas in the north as they are freezing and hardy. They are also more flavorful and produce flower stems, called scapes, which you can use in salads or stir-fries for a mild garlicky flavor.
Softneck varieties are ideal for growing in warmer climates, zones 7 or above. These varieties mature faster than hardnecks, so they are ready for harvesting before the temperature rises to extreme levels.
When selecting your seeds search for quality to ensure a more fruitful garlic harvest.
You can get your garlic for planting from a farmer’s market or your local nursery. You can also find it at online seed suppliers. However, do not try to grow garlic from the supermarket, as it might be treated with chemicals that prevent it from sprouting.
Growing in the Ground
When planting garlic directly in the ground, the first step is selecting a site. Ideally, choose an area with six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Fertilize the soil with a 5-10-10 fertilizer before planting and once more in early spring before the growing season. You could also use a fertilizer high in nitrogen but compost will also work.
Select the most healthy cloves since larger cloves produce bigger, healthier bulbs. Separate the clove from the bulb but do not remove the papery husk. Till the soil about 6 inches deep then plant the cloves one to two inches deep in the soil with the pointed side up.
Keep a distance of about six inches between each planted clove, and space the rows around six to 12 inches apart. Once your cloves are in the ground, cover the soil with mulch to maintain moisture and protect the planted cloves from winter frost. Remove the mulch in spring once the threat of frost has passed. You can use pesticide-free grass or straw mulch.
Planting in Modules
If the soil in your garden gets heavy and wet in winter, you can plant garlic indoors in modules or peat containers. Partly fill your module tray with multi-purpose or soil-based compost. Insert one clove per module and cover with compost. Make sure the compost stays moist but not wet.
Allow the plant to overwinter in a cool place, ideally a well-ventilated cold frame or unheated greenhouse. Once spring rolls around, plant the individual shoots in the ground about six inches apart.
Planting in Raised Beds
Garlic requires well-draining soil enriched with organic matter, such as compost. If your garden soil needs to be better draining or high in clay, you can grow your garlic in raised beds. The planting and care procedure remains the same to growing garlic directly in the ground. Since garlic cannot tolerate competition from weeds, growing it in raised beds makes weed control relatively easier. And, if you have a bad back, this method should ease the pain as your crops will be higher up off the ground.
Planting in a Container
You can also grow your garlic in containers if you have yet to have a plot of land available. Fill your pot with potting mix, a handful of pearlite or composted bark to aid drainage, and a slow-release fertilizer.
Insert the clove about one inch deep into the soil, allowing about two to three inches of space between the clove and the side of the container. Keep your container in a sunny location with at least six hours of direct sunlight, and water it whenever the top one inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
It will take about eight months to fully mature.
Growing in Water
You can also grow garlic greens in water! This growing method provides you with garlic greens year-round and it’s a simple process. To grow the greens, you will need sprouted garlic and a transparent water-filled jar.
Place the garlic bulb at the top of the jar, ensuring that the water is in contact with the bottom/roots. Avoid submerging the bulb in water, as it can cause rot. If the jar at hand has a big opening, use toothpicks poked into the garlic to balance it on the top.
Place your jar on a sunny windowsill that receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight and watch it grow! The clear jar helps you monitor the water condition. If the water is murky or clouded, replace it with clean water. Harvest the greens when they have reached a height of at least three inches.
General Care Tips
The low-maintenance nature of garlic entails that it has simple growing requirements.
Garlic requires a period of colder weather, between 32 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for four to eight weeks, for bulb development. Hence, plant your garlic in the fall, allowing them time to grow healthy roots before the ground freezes. Mid-October is a good time to get your garlic in the ground. If you live in a warmer climate, aim for November.
As the temperatures rise and the ground thaws, the seeds produce foliage rapidly and swell into garlic bulbs. When the leaves start turning yellow, garlic is ready for harvesting.
Garlic can tolerate many soil conditions but prefers well-draining, loamy soil with a pH between 6.5 to 7.
During the growing season, from spring to early summer, provide one inch of water per week during the dry spells. Reduce the amount of water as you approach the harvesting time and stop watering two to four weeks before harvesting. You do not need to water your garlic if you receive one inch of weekly rainfall.
Garlic does not fare well under competition. Hence, remove the weeds before planting the seeds and regularly after removing the mulch in spring.
Grow Garlicky Goodness
There are numerous ways to grow fresh garlic at home with minimum care. The yielding crop delivers bold flavors, heady aromas, and the satisfaction of growing it with your own hands.
So, are you interested in growing garlic at home? Share below in the comments!