How to grow garlic at home? Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. Even though it takes a little preparation, this ancient bulbous vegetable is an ideal addition to add to your vegetable garden.
This must-have kitchen ingredient doesn’t take much to get going and will be a nice and natural way to repel insects away from your lovingly tended vegetables.
How to Grow Garlic at Home?
The most important thing with garlic is that you can’t just take any garlic off the shelves at your local grocery store. The ones from your grocery store are often treated with chemicals that will inhibit their natural growth in the ground.
Ideally, you will need to find garlic heads that are specifically sold for the purpose of planting. Then, planting and growing will be no problem at all.
Here is everything you need to know:
How to Plant Garlic
When it comes to growing garlic at home, the process is very important and shouldn’t be rushed. Before you can even consider planting your garlic into the soil, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right spot with the right conditions.
Planting should be one during Autumn; around mid-October is ideal. Break your garlic head into individual bulbs. Each bulb will root and produce a new head of garlic.
Plant each clove 1-2 inches deep, at least 4-6 inches apart. Backfill with soil, and then add a layer of straw or mulch on top to keep your little plants warm during the winter.
Choosing a Spot
Firstly, you will need to pick a spot in your garden that hasn’t been used to grow garlic in the last year or any vegetable in the onion family. Then, you’ll want to choose somewhere with dry, loamy soil.
Garlic needs quite a bit of sun to produce a proper head, so pick a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Before planting, you will need to prepare the soil by loosening it as much as 8-inches deep and removing any weeds or stones.
It is recommended to treat the soil with a slow-release, 10-10-10 fertilizer two days prior to planting. A slightly acidic PH level is also recommended.
Garlic can also be grown easily in pots. You will need to ensure a fresh growing medium and a sunny spot, either outside or on a window ledge.
Choose Fresh Garlic
When selecting a garlic cloves to plant it would be best to purchase ones from the store or a farmers’ market to ensure their freshness. It would also be best to choose garlic that is organic, for you to make sure that there are no chemicals sprayed on them.
You also need to make sure that the bulbs of the garlic are large and fresh. Make sure to avoid the ones that are already soft. Put in mind that each clove will turn into a garlic plant so be mindful of the number of cloves that you are planting.
The next thing that you need to do is to start breaking the cloves from the garlic’s head and avoid damaging them. Once you’re done, start pushing the cloves into the soil and make sure that they are 8 inches apart to ensure that they can grow perfectly.
Mulching and Fertilizing
Once you have pushed the cloves into the soil, you will need to cover them with mulch. Some of the most suitable mulch are rotted clippings of grass, manure, compost, straw, dry leaves, and hay.
You also need to fertilize the plants during the fall season if you are planting them during the spring. Make sure to choose a fertilizer that is complete.
What Kind of Garlic Can You Grow At Home?
Now that you know how to plant garlic at home, let us figure out what kind you'd want to grow. Surprisingly to many, there are actually quite a few varieties of garlic to choose from, and not all varieties will grow in certain climates.
Wild garlic is always a good option, precisely because it is adapted to grow in the ‘wild’. However, for home-growing, we would recommend:
This is the most common choice in America. It has a beautifully sharp flavour and can tolerate colder, frosty conditions. This variety is best recognized for its long stiff neck.
Softneck garlic doesn’t produce a central stem and offers a far more mild flavor. However, this variety needs slightly warmer temperatures to grow.
Now, this is, in fact, not a true garlic. Elephant garlic produces a giant-sized head but is actually part of the leek family.
Purple Stripe Garlic
Another profitable garlic is the purple stripe which is garlic that has a sweet tasting flavor once you bake it. A lot of people are using this garlic because it can easily be peeled and it can be stored longer.
It has a fair size and what makes the purple stripe alluring in the eyes is the striped shades that it has. There are different varieties of the purple stripes, such as the Chesnok Red, Persian Star, and the Red Grain.
For you to be able to plant this garlic successfully, it is ideal to use rich soil and plant them during the cooler season. You can store this garlic for a maximum of 6 months but make sure to cut the scapes.
This is another variety of hardneck garlic, which produces long, beautiful flower spikes. People love using rocambole garlic because of the savory taste that it has.
This is also the reason why most chefs are using this kind of garlic. The cloves of this garlic can easily be peeled and can also be used as a garlic powder if needed.
If you are going to plant this garlic, 1 pound of seed can produce almost 50 plants. Rocambole garlic is best planted in the colder climates and rich soil, for it to grow easily.
You can expect to harvest them mid-season, and their bulbs can range from medium to large. This can be stored for a maximum of four months, but the scales that are long should be trimmed.
How to Care for Garlic
It’s important to keep your garlic well-watered during the growing cycle. When caring for garlic, you can water as often as every 3 to 5 days for the first few months then stop watering completely in the last two weeks before harvest.
Keep the area around your garlic well weeded, as this will inhibit head growth. In the spring, remove the mulch or straw from on top of your plant to allow shoots more space to grow.
You can also supplement with some additional fertilizer in early spring. Garlic needs lots of nitrogen to grow, so should you notice a yellowing of leaves, be sure to use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Harvesting & Storing Garlic
It’s important to wait until the exact right moment before harvesting. If you harvest too soon, you’ll miss out on the final growth spurt.
When most of the leaves have begun to brown, your garlic should be ready to harvest. This is often in late July or early August. When harvesting, take care not to bruise your garlic, as this can lead to rot in the curing phase.
Curing the garlic heads is an essential step. This will help to establish that sought after garlic flavor. They will need about 2 to 3 weeks in a dry, shady area with decent air circulation.
An ambient temperature around 40°F is ideal. You can either cut the stems, braid them, or use them to tie your garlic into bunches.
Pests & Diseases to Look Out For
Although garlic is actually an insect repellent, they sometimes have an issue or two. However, if your soil is properly tended to, the likelihood is not very high.
Common issues with garlic include:
Also known as Puccinia porri, rust appears as small orange blisters all along with the leaves of your garlic plant. To prevent rust and for a greater yield, consider spraying your soil regularly with Sulphur compounds.
Onion flies will lay eggs on your plant, where the larvae will then bore into the bulb, consume it, causing it to collapse. However, it’s not always easy to tell when you have an infestation. It is recommended to keep your soil well cultivated to prevent onion flies.
This is a cottony fungal growth with little black spots and is deadly for your garlic plants. Should you notice white rot, you will need to destroy your garlic plants immediately and avoid growing garlic in that soil again for over 15 years.
This soil-borne nematode is also a death sentence for garlic plants. Should you notice these worms on your crop, remove and destroy your plants immediately.
Cooking Tips for Garlic
So many dishes are complimented by that little addition of garlic. Whether it’s just a classic garlic bread, tomato-based dish, chicken, beef, seafood or stews, a touch of garlic goes a long way when it comes to flavor.
Many experts recommend only using fresh garlic, as the pre-minced garlic available in stores just lacks in flavor. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of fresh garlic growing soon enough.
You can roast garlic, use it fresh or even burn for a nice smokey flavor. Check out these garlic recipes you can try today.
Now You Know How to Grow Garlic at Home
There really is so much you can do with garlic. When growing it at home, just be sure to follow the preparation instructions carefully to guarantee a good yield. Here are some other amazing vegetables to add to your garden.
Be sure you mulch your plants during the winter to keep the roots warm and remove them in the spring, so you have nothing inhibiting growth. There you have it, everything you need to know on how to grow garlic at home.