How to Grow Garlic
In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing garlic at home.
Quick Guide Information
Common Name: Garlic
Scientific Name: Allium sativum
Life Span: Biannual
Time Till Harvest: 200-250 days
Light Requirement: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Optimum pH: 6.5 - 7.0
Garlic is an exceptionally easy crop to grow that we all use in our kitchen. Its pungent flavour easily transforms a meal and is almost ubiquitous in all savoury recipes. It doesn’t take much space in a garden so there is no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead and plant some! Not to mention, garlic has many medicinal properties that help the immune system and combat chronic diseases.
Garlic is also an excellent crop you can cultivate during the winter when your garden is otherwise resting! It is best planted in the autumn and will be harvested in the spring or summer.
It does best in temperate climates although it can be planted in montane tropical climates where the weather is cooler. Garlic does not do well in the hot tropics. Garlic requires a transition between short winter days to long summer days to form bulbs, which is why you get tiny bulbs when planted in equatorial regions.
Propagation, Planting, and Maintenance
To grow garlic, you are planting using a “seed garlic” which is a single tooth or clove of garlic. For planting it is best to get a biologically grown garlic from a farmers’ market or another local grower. Avoid garlic coming from conventional supermarkets as these may come from far away places and may even be treated with preservatives that inhibit their growth.
To begin, you just take a bulb of garlic and break them into individual cloves. The size of the clove doesn’t really matter, although larger cloves may grow quicker and into more robust plants although this isn’t always the case. Make sure not to break or peel the skin as this is a protective layer that helps prevent rot. If you damage it a bit, it's not catastrophic.
To plant, just bury the clove pointy side up about 5 cm deep in well loosened and fertile soil. Space them about 7 cm apart. If your soils are poor you can amend it with aged manure, compost, or worm castings. Avoid planting in areas where water settles and does not drain. Consider you may be planting this during the wettest times of the year.
Keep your beds well weeded and add a thin layer of mulch. You know garlic is ready to harvest when the lower 2-3 leaves start to brown. There should still be 4-5 green leaves but don’t let this stop you from digging one out. If this bulb seems mature, go ahead and dig out the rest of your bulbs.
You can hang these by their foliage and allow them to dry in an area with good ventilation for 3-4 weeks. Store it in a dark and cool place for up to one year. Consider saving your largest and most robust bulbs for next year’s planting!
Garlic does not really suffer from many pests and diseases. The biggest issues can be encountered when planted in excessively wet soils that can result in rot.
Small bulbs can be caused by excessive nitrogen in the soil. Alternatively, this can also happen in equatorial regions for reasons previously mentioned.