Just like growing onions, growing garlic organically in home garden is very easy and simple. If you have some space available in your home garden, then you can enjoy the flavor and taste of home grown garlic. All you have to do is plant the right variety at the right time and in the right soil for growing garlic organically in your home garden.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is actually available and grown throughout the world, but it is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran. It has been cultivated for a very long time, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use.
Along with being used as food, garlic has been used as a traditional medicine in some parts of the world. Today, China is the largest producer of garlic (counting about 80 percent of total production).
Garlic is a great source of some essential vitamins and minerals. A raw garlic is less than 1 percent fat, 2 percent dietary fiber, 6 percent protein, 33 percent carbohydrates and 59 percent is water. Today, garlic is widely used around the world for it’s pungent flavor and eaten in many different ways (including raw and cooked).
How to Grow Garlic in Home Garden
Garlic requires very little space in the garden and it’s very easy to grow. After planting one clove, it will multiply in the ground forming a new bulb that consists of several cloves. However, here we are describing all about growing garlic organically in home garden from planting, caring to harvesting.
Choose the Right Garlic Variety
Fist of all, you have to choose the right variety for growing garlic in your home garden. There are actually many different types and varieties of garlic available throughout the world. Commonly there are three types of garlic available namely Great-headed (Elephant), Stiffneck and Softneck. And within these three types, there are many varieties available.
Elepant (Great-Headed): This garlic variety doesn’t have that great taste and flavor than most other common garlic variety. Both cloves and bulbs are large (with about 4 cloves to a bulb), but the variety is less hardy.
Stiffneck: As the name suggests, the garlic varieties in this type have necks that stay soft after harvest. These varieties are recommended for the home gardener who are living in the warmer climates. They tend to grow bigger and have strong, intense flavor. Some common softneck garlic varieties are California Late, California Early, Inchelium Red and Silverskin.
Hardneck: Hardneck type has many varieties which grow one ring of cloves around a stem and there is not a layer of cloves. The varieties are extremely cold hardy, but they don’t store as well or long as other varieties. Chesnock Red, Dujanski, German Red, Korean, Music, Siberian and Spanish Roja are some common varieties within the hardneck type. Hardneck type garlic is more mild than the softneck type.
You should choose a variety which grows well in your area. You can consult with some existing home gardener in your area for better recommendation.
Purchase Fresh Garlic or Cloves
Garlic is grown by planting the cloves. So after selecting the variety, purchase fresh garlic or cloves for getting started. Don’t forget to choose garlic with fresh and high quality bulbs. It will be better if you can source and purchase organic garlic (so that you can avoid garlic that has been sprayed with chemicals), for growing garlic organically in your home garden.
If you already have some garlic at home that has sprouted, then you can also use those garlic for growing new plants.
Best Time for Growing Garlic
As we have mentioned previously, growing garlic is very easy and it can be grown year-round in mild climates. For growing garlic in the colder climates, the cloves are planted in the autumn (about six weeks before the soil freezes), and harvested in late spring or early summer. But the cloves must be planted deep enough for preventing freeze or thaw (which causes mold or white rot).
Garlic actually grows well in a wide range of climates. But can’t do well in areas with high heat or humidity and where there is a lot of rainfall.
Preparing the Soil
Garlic grows well in loamy soil with the availability of full sun. You should select or prepare a fertile and well-drained soil for growing garlic. A raised bed will be fine for these plants. If there are stones or any hard materials in the garden, remove those from the top 6 inches of soil.
Add well-rotted and aged manure or compost while preparing the soil for growing garlic. Adding some bone meal or fish meal into the soil (several inches below where the base of the garlic will rest) will be good for growing garlic in the home garden.
Garlic is not grown from seeds like some other most common garden vegetables. They are actually grown from cloves. If you use garlic for cooking, then you have probably noticed some garlic with cloves that has sprouted. Those sprouted cloves are used for growing garlic plants.
If you purchase fresh garlic, break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting (keep the papery husk on each individual clove). Place the cloves 2-4 inches apart and about 1.5-2 inches deep in their upright position. Keep 8-12 inches space between the rows. And then water and mulch the soil. That’s it, very simple!
After planting the cloves, you will need to take additional care for better growing of the plants and also for good yield. Here are the common caring steps for growing garlic organically in your home garden.
Garlic plants are heavy feeders and they require adequate levels of nutrients in the soil. They grow well in fertile soil which is enriched with high amount of organic contents. So additional fertilization is required for better growth of the plants. Fertilize again just before the bulbs begin to swell. And you will need to fertilize more if you see yellowing leaves.
Adequate watering is a must for growing garlic. You will need to water the plants after every 3-5 days depending on the condition of the soil.
You should mulch immediately after planting the cloves. Mulching not only helps to prevent weeds but also help for retaining moisture in the soil. Mulch will also help to prevent the garlic roots from being heaved out of the ground by alternate freezing and thawing. So, lay down a protective mulch after planting. Chopped leaves, grass clippings, hay and straw will be good for this purpose.
Weeds can create some real problems for growing garlic in your home garden. The plants don’t grow well with competition. So, controlling weeds is very important. You can hoe between rows and then mulch heavily. Doing this will prevent most of the weeds from your garlic beds.
Pests and Diseases
Garlic is less prone to pests and diseases. Actually garlic is a natural pest repellent. Although you need to monitor the plants on a regular basis.
If you are living in colder climates, then white rot is a concern for growing garlic. It is a fungus that may attract garlic in cool weather. Crop rotating and cleaning up the area after harvesting are the good ways for preventing this fungus. The fungus affects the base of the leaves and roots, and the spores can live in the soil for many years.
Look for the yellow tops, and you can actually expect to harvest when the top of the plants begin to yellow and fall over (before they are completely dry). Dig up the bulbs carefully with a spade or garden fork for harvesting garlic. Lift the plants and carefully brush off the soil.
After harvesting, let the garlic cure in an airy, shady and dry spot for about 2 weeks. And once the garlic bulbs are dry, you can store them. The flavor will increase and be good as the bulbs are dried. You can enjoy your home grown garlic for long time if you can store properly.
Hope you have enjoyed this guide for growing garlic! May God bless you!