Growing Garlic Tips on
How to Grow Garlic Successfully - Every time!
Thinking of growing
garlic? Garlic is
one of those herbs you either love or hate to eat. People grow it
for its wonderful medicinal qualities and adding flavor to food. Garlic
is also easy to grow, and
adds undeniable taste to the Italian
recipes I love to prepare.
Garlic is also one of
those herbs that you
can also recycle when you have been shopping at the store. When you
garlic for too long it the garlic cloves start to sprout. Instead of
throwing it away,
this time just plant it! Now you know that you have a viable plant that
will develop proper bulbs. It is that easy to grow!
However, there are a
number of garlic varieties that you should know about if you want to
Hard-neck Garlic and
In true garlic (Allium
sativum) there are 2 main types of garlic:
Most of the garlic that you see in the shops, is the soft-neck
variety because it is easily planted with machinery. If the garlic is
white, and sold in bulk in net bags, it has come from China.
although more labor intensive, is far more rewarding in that it gives
you large bulbs that are very different in flavor. For those
you living in a cooler climate, then growing hard-neck garlic is for
Why is it more
labor-intensive? Well, you
will have to plant all your garlic cloves by hand for a start, making
sure that you are planting the clove with the pointed side up.
Secondly, you will have to
remove the flower stalks called scapes,
before you harvest. This is better done at the last minute, resulting
in better formed bulbs, and even larger bulbs than if you had to remove
the flower stalks too early in their development.
garlic is not a true garlic at all, but more like an onion in that the
bulb it produces is a single bulb, with very large cloves, hence the
name, and the leaves of the elphant garlic plant are flat
that of a leek.
The elephant garlic is closer to the leek family to that of the garlic
family and has a milder taste. In fact elephant garlic is so mild that
you can use it raw in salads or you can use it as a substitute for
you plant elephant garlic it will produce single bulbs in the first
year and in the second year it will produce the large cloves for which
it is known. You can use these cloves to replant and grow more plants.
This gives you some idea of the
size of an elephant garlic clove!
Growing Garlic from Seed or Bulbs
you ever wondered why it is that you seldom see garlic seed in
gardening shops and seed catalogues it's because it is extremely
difficult to find true garlic seed. This is because the flowers of the
garlic plant fade and die long before they have had the chance to
produce any seed. On the rare occasion that you find garlic seed
planting it will only bring frustration and despair as it will take
years before the bulbs fully develop.
As a result the best way
to grow garlic is only from cloves or bulbs. I have been successful in
growing garlic from shop-bought garlic, however, I only plant the
cloves out once I see them sprouting. Often your store-bought garlic
has been treated not to sprout, and so if you don't wait to see what
sort of garlic you have you will be disappointed because nothing will
If you are growing garlic for profit or on a larger
scale, then you will need to go to a seed supplier and buy your bulbs
directly from them.
Cracking the garlic
before planting your garlic, look at the size of the garlic cloves. The
bigger the clove, the bigger the bulb will be. So size does matter when
it comes to garlic! Now you will need to "crack"
your cloves. This means taking each bulb and breaking off the cloves
from the basal plate.
this with care as you don't want to damage the bottom of the clove from
where your plants' root system will develop. Only crack the bulbs 24
hours before planting. If you do this more than 24 hours in advance the
ends of your garlic cloves will dry out and spoil the chances of
developing a good root system.
Once you have cracked all bulbs
it is time to plant. Make sure that you plant each garlic clove
pointed-side up, and 2 inches below the soil line. Space at 4-8 inches.
If you pack your bulbs any closer than this the less chance they have
of developing large bulbs, and this is not what you want.
Growing Garlic from Bulbils
If you are growing hard-neck
garlic you will have flower stalks
appearing on your garlic plants. These are also known as top-sets
Many people just cut these off before harvest. However, if you wish to
propagate your garlic plants you can leave these flower stalks to
mature into bulbils and then harvest the
fruit from here for replanting.
bulbs that you harvest from these flowers are just as good as those of
the parent plant. This is a cheap and effective way in which to
increase your planting stock, however, the downside is that it
2-3 years before the fruit from the bulbils will grow into good sized
In addition to this, you will still need to
plant and harvest your bulbs every year, just like any other garlic
planting process and with each succesive planting for those 2 - 3
years, the bulbs will get bigger.
Usually, the bulbils are
planted out in the spring. However, if you are worried about the
bulbils spoiling over the winter, you can
plant them out in the fall, but you may lose a couple to rats and moles
looking for something delicious to feast on when times are lean.
the first year the plants from the bulbils will not grow scapes or
top-sets. The will also have very shallow roots which means that they
need to be kept well-watered. If they have even one day of no water
they will stop growing.
Because the bulbs of the first plants
will be small it is better to harvest them before the leaves have died
down, just so that it is easier to find them.
How to Harvest the
Garlic Bulbs from the Bulbils
until the bulbil has ripened enough so that it has burst open and looks
as if the bulbs are about to fall to the ground. Snip the heads off
very carefully including a long stalk. Tie the stalks together in
bunches and hang upside down to dry. Once dried out, cut off the heads
and store in brown paper bags and leave in a dark place until you are
ready to plant them out.
Growing Garlic: When to Plant
Growing garlic in a Garden Bed
As a bulb garlic likes a
autumn and a rainy frosty winter to do really well. It also likes to
have a warm to hot spring and summer to do really well. If you live in
such a climate you will have no trouble growing garlic at all. If you
live in the tropics you will have to select your variety wisely as the
garlic needs the
cold winter period to form good cloves.
However, there are some
garlic that you can grow in warmer and even tropical climates. Garlic
from the Artichoke group are among the best for regions with warm
winters and springs. Cultivars from the Creole group also do well in
warmer areas, but their bulbs are generally smaller.
If you want to plant
you purchased from your store make sure that it has begun to
before you plant it. I say this because some commercially grown garlic
has been treated so that it won't sprout. If this is the case, then you
will either have to buy some at your local farm store, or find some
bulbs from a commercial seller.
You can plant the cloves in late
whole if the bulb is a single bulb variety, or separated if it
is from the multi-bulb variety.
As already mentioned, plant to a depth
of about 2 inches deep in
good free-draining soil that is in full sun.
Your soil should have a
lot of organic matter added to it as garlic grows better in rich soil,
and soft enough for the bulbs to grow well, and reach their full
Lifestyles Gardening Tip: There
is a sound saying that garlic should be planted on the shortest day and
harvested on the longest. Garlic, in general needs a cold period,
preferably a sharp frost or two, for it to grow vigorously. In fact you
don't have to wait until 21st December to plant your cloves; any time
from mid-fall is fine.
Growing Garlic: Growing Conditions
Emerging garlic plants from the soil
Water in but don't over-water them as
they will rot. If you get a lot of rain, only water during the dry
During its growth make sure that you
feed your plants with a liquid manure on a regular basis to boost your
Growing Garlic in Containers
is possible to grow garlic in containers as long as you have enough
soil depth for the plant to grow comfortably. Make sure that you have
also prepared the soil well enough to receive your plants and that
there are enough drainage holes at the bottom of the container to allow
the water to drain away.
If you don't have enough drainage holes in your containers your soil
will turn sour and
your bulbs will eventually rot.
Growing garlic in plastic
Growing Garlic: When to Harvest
harvesting garlic after 8 or 9
months of planting.
Towards the end of summer the garlic
leaves will start to turn yellow. Reduce your watering as soon as you
Wait for the leaves to die back,
although not completely.
Harvest when there are about 4 or 5 green leaves still on the plant.
Pull up the bulbs very gently as they bruise very easily. One way of
getting them out is to take the soil away from the sides of them with a
spade. Never fork them out, as you will end up putting the fork through
Drying your Garlic
Once out of the soil, you will need to dry
your garlic bulbs. This means drying them out by hanging
them in the sun for about
Just remove as much of the soil from
them as possible with your hands,
not water, and keep them away from any moisture. Make sure that they do
not get rained on while you are
drying them and that they also have plenty of circulation.
stored for up to seven months. Hanging them up in mesh
bags ensures that there is good air circulation.
Storing garlic in mesh bags
Remember that when you are growing
garlic during one
season that you need to keep some bulbs back for
yourself so that you can plant them again the following season.
Choose only the best bulbs for this.
They should be large and unblemished.
garlic is not only a great health herb for lowering cholesterol but it
is also a herb used in many dishes today, especially in Italian
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