Garlic is one of the easiest culinary herbs to grow and maintain at home. No doubt, it is challenging to plant some of the varieties of this plant that require intensive care, but the common variety is often considered to be a hardy and maintenance-free crop. So, do not worry even if you are planning to grow this wonderful herb for the first time. With some basic gardening tips, you will easily succeed in harvesting garlic bulbs.
Even though growing garlic from a seed is possible, most gardeners prefer to grow them directly from the clove. In the latter option, you are skipping the steps of seed germination and replanting (if necessary). In brief, the time period required for maturity and/or bulb formation is shortened when garlic cloves are planted.
A major advantage of growing garlic at home is that this herb thrives well in varied climatic conditions. For example, you can grow them indoors near a window or co-plant them with vegetables and other flowering plants. Thus, you get a wide range of options for the plantation.
- Separate the Cloves:
Purchase healthy bulbs of garlic and separate each of the individual cloves. A single clove develops as a plant and on maturity, produces a bulb. Based on the area size for plantation, you can estimate the number of garlic cloves and separate them accordingly.
- Select the Plantation Site:
For better formation of bulbs, select a site that receives a lot of sunlight. Also, make sure that the soil in that area is not so damp. Otherwise, there may be rotting of the garlic bulbs during cold winter months.
- Prepare the Soil:
Preparation of soil for growing garlic should be done in autumn. Spring plantation is also possible for warmer climates. So, based on the prevailing climatic conditions in your area, you can prepare soil either in spring or autumn. If your garden is wet, consider supplementing it with sand and organic matter to make it porous.
- Plant the Garlic Cloves:
While planting garlic, dig the soil to about an inch deep, insert the clove, and cover it with soil. If you are planting garlic in a vegetable garden, then maintain a gap of about 4 inches between each plant and a row spacing of approximately 18 inches. This allows easy watering of the garlic plants and weeding (if necessary).
Water the newly planted cloves adequately for quick formation of the leaves. When you notice the development of a green shoot, reduce the irrigation frequency and allow the soil to dry in between two watering sessions, or else water only when the top soil is dry.
For a good harvest, consider fertilizing the plants with a general purpose fertilizer between late March and May. Ensure that you keep a watch over the invading weeds. Mulching with hay or straw is a good way to control weeds. Depending upon the variety, garlic matures in about 7-8 months after plantation.
Timely harvesting is crucial for growing garlic plants. Harvesting it too early produces small-sized bulbs, while late harvesting induces splitting of the bulbs. So, either way, you will get poor quality bulbs. The right time for harvesting garlic is when most of the leaves wither and turn yellow. While harvesting, loosen the soil with the help of a trowel and gently ease the bulbs.
People who do not have a garden can grow garlic in pots. The procedure for growing this plant in containers and pots is the same as that of planting it in garden soil. Maintain the same spacing between two garlic plants (4 inch) and follow the same tips as above. Whatever may be the growing option you have selected, you will get the reward of flavoring your dish with home-grown garlic leaves and bulbs.