If you love using garlic in your food, you should try and grow organic garlic at home. It is easy and rewarding to grow also, and you will enjoy the fresh taste and aroma of home-grown garlic so much that you will never want to buy it again from your supermarket or grocer.
Why Should you Grow your own Garlic?
When you grow your own garlic, you control what kind of garlic you grow and how you grow it. You will not used pesticides and harmful substances or artificial stuff in your soil, so you are sure that you are growing organic garlic.
Often garlic that if available in commercial big supermarkets may be imported and you really don’t know what the farmers have used in another country when growing the garlic. Before being exported from the country of original it may have been chemically treated so that it stays white and keep ‘fresh’ during storage and transport. If you buy cheap garlic, it probably had been grown commercially using pesticides and chemicals. As for organic garlic, it is expensive.
And garlic has many health benefits. It is not only delicious to eat, it is an important part of curries, sauces, marinades, stir-fries, garlic bread, chutneys, salsas and more. Garlic contains allicin, a compound in garlic that gives its characteristic flavor and has many health benefits. This bulb is known for its many health benefits such as:
- Cholesterol lowering properties
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Anti-biotic and anti-microbial properties
- Used externally to reduce inflammation (in a poultice)
When you grow your own garlic, you will not only add taste to your foods, but also reap the many health benefits garlic provides.
Which Kind of Garlic can you Grow?
Whether you are an avid gardener and grow many vegetables and herbs in your backyard or have a small space and simply want to grow small amounts on your terrace or balcony in pots, garlic is a simple plant to grow. You can actually use any garlic cloves that you have home and plant them, as long as they have their paper cover on.
However, if you are looking for high-quality specialist garlic to grow then keep in mind that there are two basic varieties of garlic: softneck and hardneck. Hardneck grow better in areas where the winter is cold, whereas softneck varieties prefer milder winters. If you plant garlic in autumn, you will get your harvest in summer.
Most of the garlic that is available in markets is of the softneck variety. This produces smaller bulbs. The hardneck variety of garlic produces bigger bulbs, but the garlic cloves are fewer because they are bigger.
Which Soil do you need for Growing Organic Garlic?
Garlic does best in loose soil that can drain properly. You can use sandy soil or soil with clay, but ensure that the clay is not too much otherwise your garlic will stay wet and not grow well. In fact, it can rot because of excess moisture.
Make sure that the soil is nutrient rich, using compost or manure. The soil should be loose rather than well-packed. Put the garlic cloves, with the paper skin on, with the pointy ends facing upwards. Each clove should be placed 4-6 inches deep in the soil and with a separation of 6-7 inches between each, giving plenty of room for the garlic bulbs to grow.
What about Sun and Water?
Garlic requires partial sun to grow and thrive. It need more sun as it matures and gets ready for picking. As for water, you can water it every 5-6 days, unless the weather is simply too dry. Keep in mind that garlic does not do well in too much water and will rot. So the soil needs to be easy to drain and do not over-water.
As the garlic begins to grow, you can occasionally take some of the bulb kind of thing that appears at the end of the stalk. These are called scapes and have the flavor of garlic. You can eat them as they are or you can keep them for future planting as they contain seeds of the garlic. But not keep removing scapes as they grow as this will damage the garlic plant.
Harvesting and Storing Home Grown Garlic
The garlic leaves start yellowing and look as if they are dying when the garlic bulbs are ready to be picked. When you see this happening, you know that the garlic is ready – this can take up to six months from when you planted the garlic.
When the garlic matures, each bulb needs to be loosened and gently removed. Do not wash the garlic as it will rot. Leave the bulbs hung up to cure for up to two weeks at 80°F to dry them out. You can then clean them and trim off tops and roots and store them in a cool and dry place.
Even if you don’t have too much space, try growing your organic garlic at home and you will be well-rewarded.
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