Garlic: Facts and How to Grow it
People all around the world use garlic in most of their cooking. This vegetable does not only making your dishes more savory. But, it also has some excellent properties which are good for our health. Because of those advantages, it is a good idea to grow this vegetable in your garden. Planting it is easy if you know how to plant garlic.
Learn more about how to plant pumpkins.
All You Must Know About Garlic
To be able to grow garlic successfully, it is important for you to know everything about this vegetable. With this knowledge, you can start the process of how to plant garlic more smoothly. These are some facts on garlic that you need to know.
1. Origin and History
Garlic or Allium sativum is originated from Central Asia and Iran. It is predicted that this vegetable plant has been cultivated since thousand years ago in the Middle East, Egypt, Rome, Greece, India, and China. The ancient farmers in those countries mainly cultivated garlic as a healing property.
The spread of this vegetable was started by the Indians about 6000 years ago. Later on, in about 3000 BC, Indian people sold this vegetable in the Middle East, particularly to Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
Both of those empires loved this vegetable and used it for various purposes. In addition, they also sold it in neighboring civilizations, one of them is Egypt.
It was said that the Egyptians fed their slaves with garlic so that they had the strength required to build pyramids. Later on, garlic was introduced to Greece and Rome.
Both of them used it for cooking and medicine. Meanwhile, during Muslim rule expansion, garlic was spread to Western Europe. Today, this vegetable is used for various purposes by people from all over the world.
2. Garlic Plants Characteristics
Garlic is a perennial plant which is included in the amaryllis family. This bulbous plant has long leaves that arise from a soft pseudo stem or a short hard stem. The leaves can grow from 60 cm to 1 meter in height.
This vegetable plant needs a lot of sun. Therefore, it must be planted in an area with full sun exposure. Garlic is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
But, this plant can be planted in various areas all over the world, including Alaska. However, you must know the method of how to plant garlic in extreme areas if you want to do it.
Garlic requires certain conditions of the soil to grow well. To get the best result, you need to plant it in a loamy and well-drained soil.
Moreover, the soil must be slightly acidic or neutral, with a pH level of 6.5 to 7. If you don’t have this kind of soil, you can fertilize and lime your soil before you plant the cloves.
It is important for you to plant garlic at the right time. The recommended planting time is in the fall. If you live in an area with mild winter, you can plant it in February or March. If you grow it at the right time, you will be able to harvest your garlic in early summer.
Garlic actually doesn’t have flowers. However, people call garlic scape as a flower. When this scape is ‘blooming’, you can leave it on this plant.
If you do it, garlic bulbils usually will develop on it. Bulbils are small garlic bulbs which are the clone of the mother plant. If you plant them, they will grow into garlic plants and yield garlic bulbs.
The scape of a garlic plant is sterile. Its reproductive part does not develop fully. Therefore, it does not undergo any pollination process.
However, certain treatments on the scape can help a particular garlic variety to produce seeds. But, if you want to perform the easier steps of how to plant garlic, you had better plant it from clove or bulbils.
4. Garlic Bulbs
Each garlic plant produces a garlic bulb. It is formed of many white cloves. Moreover, those cloves have white or purple striped skin. This skin is thin and has a texture similar to paper.
In addition, garlic cloves have a strong smell. This smell is formed from the mix of alliin and alliinase when garlic is chopped, cut, bruised, or chewed. This mix produces allicin which causes a strong smell.
5. Nutritional Value
Garlic cloves may be small in size. However, they contain various nutrients in large amounts. Some of them are vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, vitamin B1, iron, and vitamin B5. Moreover, they also contain a small amount of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B2 and B3.
Garlic is mostly used as one of the ingredients of various dishes. It is used in soups, garlic bread, curry, and other dishes. In addition, garlic leaves and flowers are also eaten in certain countries. They are cooked when they are still young and tender. But, the leaves and flowers do not have strong taste and smell as the cloves.
Moreover, it is also used for medication because of the excellent properties found in it. The use of garlic as medication has been done for thousands of years. In addition, it is also believed that garlic cloves can be used to repel certain devils. If you want to get all those advantages, you must know the method of how to plant garlic.
There are numerous varieties of garlic. However, they are grouped into two groups. Different varieties or groups surely require different processes of how to plant garlic. Those groups are:
If you live in an area with a warmer climate, it is better for you to choose soft neck garlic to plant. This kind of variety has garlic bulbs with the softneck. Even after harvest, this neck will stay soft. Moreover, the bulb from this garlic variety is pretty big because this plant doesn’t produce bulbils. Therefore, the nutrition mostly goes to the bulbs.
In addition, soft neck garlic usually produces an intense and strong flavor. Some of the cultivars that are included in this group are California Early, Silverskin, and Inchelium Red.
For you who live in an area with a colder climate. It is recommended for you to choose hardneck garlic. It is because this plant is very cold hardy. Moreover, the garlic bulbs of this variety are formed by many cloves that surrounding a hard stem. The cloves have milder taste and aroma compared to the softneck.
However, this particular garlic cannot be stored for a long time. Moreover, it produces bulbils. Therefore, the bulb of this plant is not big. Some hardneck garlic varieties that you can grow are Music, German Red, and Korean Red.
In addition, there is another variety. It is Elephant garlic. However, even though it is called garlic, this particular variety is not garlic. It is a kind of leek. But, it has a big bulb similar to garlic. This bulb does not have taste and aroma like garlic. Its taste is similar to an onion.
8. Pests and Diseases
If you do not have much time for gardening, growing garlic will be suitable for you. This plant is pretty resistant to pests and diseases.
Therefore, you don’t need to spend too much of your time and energy in dealing with those two problems. In addition, garlic can also help you to repel certain pests from your other plants.
However, there is a certain fungus that can cause trouble to your garlic plants. It is White Rot. This fungus usually attacks your garlic when the weather is cool.
It affects the roots and leaves of your plants. Once your garlic plants caught this condition, you will not be able to do much, except discarding them away.
Moreover, you also need to clean the planting site because the fungus can live in the soil for years. Because of the danger of this fungus infection, it is recommended for you to rotate your plants.
Therefore, you must not plant garlic in the same area for two years in a row. This plant rotation will help you avoid pests and diseases on various plants.
Learn more about how to grow asparagus.
How to Plant Garlic
Before you start the process of how to plant garlic, you must have garlic cloves first. Some people think that they can plant garlic from garlic that they buy at the grocers.
It is true that store-bought garlic has a certain chance to germinate. However, this chance is pretty low. In addition, the variety of garlic you bought may not be suitable for your hardiness zone.
Therefore, it is better for you to get garlic cloves from the nursery. Getting them from the nursery will give you more chance of success in planting them. It is because you will likely get certain information about them.
This information is usually about how many days they need to mature, how to plant garlic, and how to care for it. Moreover, you will likely get cloves that are suitable for your hardiness zone.
If you are ready to plant your cloves, you can follow these steps of how to plant garlic.
1. Preparing The Soil
Before you plant your garlic cloves, it is important for you to prepare the soil first. Garlic does not need a large space to grow.
Therefore, you can plant the cloves directly at the ground or in a medium-sized container. Whichever you choose, you can follow these steps.
- If you are going to plant garlic cloves in pots, you need to fill the pots with potting mix. But, if you are going to plant it in the ground, you need to fertilize the soil using aged manure and compost.
- Moreover, for easy maintenance, you can make a raised bed to plant the cloves. The size of the bed must be 10 inches tall and two feet wide.
- Your garlic cloves need to be planted in 2 inches deep holes. But, when you are making the holes, make sure that you dig several inches deeper. Add 2 tablespoons of 5-10-10 fertilizer at the bottom. After that, fill the holes with soil and leave the top two inches empty.
- In making the holes, you need to give 4 inches space between holes and 14 inches space between rows.
2. Planting The Cloves
- Choose big and healthy garlic cloves to plant.
- Break the cloves from the bulb carefully and let the papery skin on. Do it a few days before planting.
- Place the cloves in the holes. Make sure that you place them in the right position with the pointy end facing up and the wide end facing down.
- After that, fill the hole with soil and spray it with enough water.
- To protect the garlic shoots from cold temperatures in winter, you must apply thick straw mulch to cover the raised bed. This mulch must be about 5 inches thick.
After planting the cloves, you don’t need to do anything until the spring comes. In this season, you can remove the covering mulch.
When the temperature gets warmer, the shoots will emerge. To make sure that you get a satisfying yield in the summer, you need to take care of your plants properly.
It is important to fertilize the soil in early spring with rich nitrogen fertilizer. Moreover, you also need to fertilize it again in early May or when the plants start growing a bulb. In addition, you also need to fertilize the plants when the leaves are yellowing.
You need to water your garlic plants every three days in mid-May until June. At this time, the plants start growing bulbs so that they need more water. However, you need to decrease the amount of water gradually starting in mid-June.
Weeds can affect the growth of garlic bulbs. Therefore, you need to weed the raised bed regularly. In addition, you may need to cut off the flowers which come out in spring. If they are not removed, they will affect the size of the bulbs.
If you plant the cloves in fall, you will be able to harvest your garlic in between late June and August. A ready to harvest garlic usually has tops that start yellowing.
If you see this sign, you need to harvest your garlic bulbs. When harvesting them, you must dig carefully. After that, brush the soil off and hang the bulbs in a shady, dry, and airy area for a couple of weeks.
In hanging them, you need to string them in bunches. Each of those bunches consists of six bulbs. When the roots and skin are dry, you can clean the roots and remove the dirty skin layers. In addition, you also need to trim the leaves. After that, you must store them in a cool and dry place.
Planting garlic is not very challenging. Therefore, beginners will likely be successful in planting it. If you follow the steps above and grow your garlic in a sunny spot, you will surely have a nice harvest in summer.
Learn more about how to plant succulents.