Did You Know?
The name Chicago is coined from the word Chicagoua, which is the Indian name for wild garlic.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner in gardening, growing garlic indoors is an ideal project to start on. The task, however, needs patience, as the bulbs take a couple of months to develop fully. With proper care you will get nice, plump and flavorsome bulbs of garlic. As the crop grows, you can snip off the greens and use them as toppings for soups or salads. Garlic greens also impart a nice flavor to the dish.
To grow garlic indoors, you will need:
To grow garlic indoors, you will need:
- bulbs of garlic (depending on how many you want to sow)
- potting mix
- containers to sow garlic cloves
The container used for growing garlic indoors should be large enough, for the garlic roots to have good space to grow. Larger the size of the container, healthier and bigger the garlic bulbs will be. If you want, you can use individual pots for sowing each clove. The container used, should also have holes at the bottom, so that the water can drain out easily. Make sure that the holes are not too big or else soil will also drain out. To prevent it, you can layer the bottom of the container with a fine plastic mesh. In case there are no holes in the container you have taken, you can manually drill holes into it.
Garlic grows best in loose, well-drained soil. Before sowing the clove, ensure that the soil is well dug. Add some organic matter during this time to facilitate drainage of water. It is best to use potting soil and gardening sand in the ratio of 3:1. Remove all traces of weeds as they would easily overwhelm the herb. Fill the container with the potting mix, leaving about two inch of space from the top.
Choosing the Right Clove
Choose the largest bulbs of garlic from the grocer's or the supermarket. From this, take the cloves that are healthy and look robust.
Sowing the Clove
Sow each clove vertically into the soil at a depth of 1 inch. Ensure that the blunt end is facing downward. The roots of these plants require enough space to develop. In case you are planning to sow more than one clove in each container, make sure that each clove is at least 5 inches apart from next one and from the sides of the container. Cover all the cloves with soil. There should be about 1 inch of soil over all the cloves. If you see any garlic clove peeping out, add more soil to cover the same.
The sowed garlic will need about 8 hours of sunshine everyday. For optimum growth of the garlic plant, chose a sunny spot where there is enough air circulation. This would aid evaporation of excess amount of water, and prevent the soil from becoming too damp in case of excess watering. Window sill is a good place to put the container of garlic plant.
Once the clove has been sowed, cover the soil with a layer of mulch. It will protect the roots, in case it is very cold. Once the garlic tips start emerging, do away with the layer of mulch. Also, water them regularly (may be daily or on alternate days, depending upon the moisture content of the soil). The soil should be moist, not excessively wet, or else the roots will rot.
Clip off the greens when they are about 3 - 4 inches tall, leaving about an inch or so for it to re-grow. Eventually, the greens will stop growing. In about 6 - 8 months, the bulbs will develop fully and the greens on the top would dry up. Hang the harvested garlic in a cool, dry place, for a week to dry. Your homegrown garlic is ready to use.
- You can use garlic bulbs from your garden supply store for sowing, as sometimes the garlic from supermarket are treated with chemicals to avoid sprouting.
- You can also add garden fertilizer from time to time to facilitate growth.
- Do not pour water on the plant directly, rather sprinkle watergenerously such that the soil is nicely wet and moist.
Garlic also produces seeds, but it is best to use individual cloves for growing garlic bulbs. It is easier and produces better results. Even though it needs a bit of patience and care, the endeavor of growing garlic at home is well worth the effort.