Ditch the grocery store run and Grow an Endless Garlic Supply at Home in Simple Steps with these expert tips!
Do you love garlic? What if you could skip the grocery store run and cultivate this tasty culinary ingredient on your windowsill or in your backyard? If this sounds interesting, learn how you can Grow an Endless Garlic Supply at Home in Simple Steps! Also, get some expert tips to ensure a fuller, healthy harvest.
Grow an Endless Garlic Supply at Home in Simple Steps!
Step 1: Pick the Healthiest Bulbs
Choose a healthy garlic bulb. Go for one that is plump and has tightly packed cloves. Break up the bulb into individual cloves carefully without damaging them. Each clove can potentially yield a whole bulb of garlic. Remember—planting more cloves means a larger harvest.
Step 2: Prepare the Soil
Garlic prefers a nutrient-rich, well-draining potting mix with a slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. To ensure healthy and fuller cloves, combine a mixture of approximately 50% garden soil, 30% well-rotted manure or organic fertilizer, and 10% sand with a fistful of perlite or vermiculite.
This loamy soil has a good structure for root growth, holds moisture well, but also drains effectively to prevent waterlogging. Well-rotten manure or fertilizer adds essential nutrients and improves soil structure, encouraging robust garlic growth, and the addition of perlite encourages aeration.
Step 3: Place the Cloves Correctly
Garlic thrives in a sunny spot and requires ample space to grow. When planting, space the cloves about four inches apart in rows that are a foot apart. This will give each plant enough space to grow without competing for nutrients. Place the garlic cloves in a way that their pointed end is facing upward – this end sprouts the green shoot.
Step 4: Water Wisely
After planting, water your garlic lightly to settle the soil around the cloves. Garlic doesn’t like to sit in overly wet soil as it can lead to rot or fungal diseases. So, allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out a little between waterings. To determine the right time, dig your finger about an inch into the soil. If it’s dry at this depth, it’s time to water. If it’s still damp, you can probably wait another day or two.
Overwatering can be a critical issue, so be watchful. If the leaves begin to yellow or wilt, it is an indication of overwatering.
As harvest approaches, start to cut back on watering. When the lower leaves begin to yellow and the tops start to fall over, stop watering completely. This drying-out period allows the bulbs to start curing even before they’re out of the ground and can make the harvest process easier.
Step 5: Prune the Blooms
If your garlic plant starts to produce flowers, pinch them off. This will allow the plant to focus its energy on producing a bigger bulb. To prune your garlic plant, wait until the scapes have made one or two loops. Then use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the scape off at the base, being careful not to damage the rest of the plant.
Step 6: Apply Mulch
Mulch acts as a physical barrier to sunlight, preventing the germination and growth of weed seeds in the soil. This reduces competition for nutrients and water, thereby promoting the healthier growth of garlic. Also, it provides insulation by keeping the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, providing a more stable environment for growing garlic.
Common types of mulch you may use are straw, shredded leaves, and grass clippings. Infact, you can add an extra layer of nutrition by using organic mulch.
Step 7: Harvest at the Right Time
The time to harvest garlic is when half to three-quarters of the leaves have turned yellow. This is usually about 7 to 8 months after planting. Dig up the bulbs, being careful not to bruise them. Leave the bulbs on the ground to dry for a couple of days if the weather is dry. If not, move them to a well-ventilated spot out of the rain.
Expert Tips for a Healthy and Fuller Harvest
1. Choose the Right Garlic Variety
Before you begin, ensure to choose the right garlic variety as per your climate and taste. There are two main types—Hardneck and Softneck. Hardneck garlic varieties are typically more flavorful and do well in cooler climates, but they don’t store as long as softnecks. Softneck varieties, on the other hand, are more adaptable to a range of climates and have a longer shelf life.
2. Ensure a Cold Dormancy Period
Garlic prefers a cold dormancy period before it begins to grow. During this time, the garlic bulb goes through physiological changes that initiate the development of lateral meristems (small growing points) within the bulb. These meristems aid the formation of individual cloves and the overall size and quality of the bulb.
Plant the cloves in the fall—a few weeks before the ground freezes. It will provide this cold period and lead to bigger and healthier bulbs when you harvest.
3. Practice Crop Rotation
Like all plants, garlic can benefit from crop rotation. Avoid planting garlic in the same spot where onions or other alliums were grown the previous year. This helps prevent the build-up of disease in the soil and can result in healthier bulbs.
4. Fertilize the Garlic Bulbs
Garlic is a heavy feeder and will benefit from the application of a balanced organic fertilizer or compost when planting. Go for a second application of fertilizer when the plants have developed several leaves, typically around 4-6 weeks after planting. Ensure to stop fertilizing garlic about 2-3 weeks before harvest.
Look for a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of approximately 10-10-10 or 10-20-20. Do remember that excessive nitrogen can lead to excessive vegetative growth and smaller bulbs, so ensure not to overapply nitrogen. Balanced fertilizers with a moderate nitrogen content are more suitable.
Additionally, garlic may benefit from trace elements or micronutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. You may look for a well-balanced fertilizer or amendments specifically formulated for bulb crops.
5. Cure the Bulbs Properly
Lay the harvested bulbs in a single layer out of direct sunlight in a well-ventilated place. After about two weeks, the skins should be dry and papery, and the roots dry and wiry. Trim the roots, brush off any remaining dirt, and your garlic is ready to be stored in a cool, dry place. You can store your garlic for several months with proper curing and storage.