Garlic has a savory, pungent flavor featured in dishes from around the world. It's popular for more than just its taste, as it also provides desirable health benefits, and eating more can offer benefits for your immune system.
You can find that garlic is surprisingly easy to grow on your own! By planting it in your garden, or growing your own garlic in containers, you can produce your own crop, and start adding it to the meals you prepare at home.
Garlic is a forgiving crop, so you can be optimistic about its chances for growth even in an imperfect environment. Make sure the soil drains well, as too much water can be a problem. The amount of space you need will depend on how much you plant. Each bulb you plant should enjoy eight inches of space.
While many varieties of garlic exist, you can reduce your search to hardneck varieties, or softneck. Softneck garlic produces larger bulbs and more cloves. They tend to last longer and do better in warmer environments. Hardneck varieties have a long flowering stem that will leave a tough core at the center of the bulb. While they may not last as long, hardneck garlic varieties have larger cloves and are thought to have more flavor. These varieties can be easier to grow in cold weather.
Because garlic only requires a relatively small space to grow in, this plant can be cultivated in containers. Look for a container that is eighteen inches deep, and at least twelve inches wide. As with garlic planted directly in the ground, crops grown in containers do well when there is good soil drainage. Make sure you select something with holes on the bottom to let water out.
Plant your garlic before the weather turns too cold - October can be a great time to start your crop. Make sure you plant in an area that provides at least six hours of daily sunlight. Give each bulb should at least eight inches of separation and set the tips roughly two inches into the soil.
Because garlic is hardy, the soil does not have to be perfect. Organic fertilizers can help its condition if you want to take an extra step to support your growing garlic.
If you anticipate a cold winter, covering the garlic crops with straw for protection, but remember to clear the straw when the weather warms. If you live somewhere with dry winters, take care to keep the soil damp, but avoid adding too much water.
Fertilize at three-week intervals during spring, and keep the soil moist. Hardneck garlic varieties produce scapes around the spring and summer. By removing them, you can encourage the production of larger bulbs.
Your garlic can reach a harvest-ready state in the summer, but some plants may be ready in late spring. You can identify garlic bulbs that are ready to be pulled from the earth when you spot green leaves growing on the sides. Check to see if the leaves at the bottom of the stem are brown - if they are, your garlic should be ready!
Before you try to pull out your bulbs, take time to loosen the soil. Use a digging fork for this task...but make sure you insert it away from the bulb.
Let your garlic cure after harvesting it by leaving it in a cool space with good ventilation. After this period is up, you can store your harvest in a cool, dark spot. Your garlic should not be refrigerated.
Softneck garlic lasts longer after being harvested than hardneck garlic. With softneck garlic, you can expect your bulbs to stay in good condition for nine months to one year. Hardneck garlic can begin turning after four to six months.
Can one successful garlic harvest lead to another? You can certainly take some of what you've grown to plant more and produce a new garlic crop. If you do this, make sure you are rotating crops. If you try to grow garlic in the same space perpetually, you will deplete the nutrients in the surrounding soil, leading to an unsuccessful harvest.
Like onions, garlic varieties tend to be used to enhance the flavor of a meal, not as its own course. You can chop or mince garlic cloves and add them to meat, or intensify the flavor of a sauce. Garlic's popularity reaches from Italian dishes to Chinese and Korean meals, so you can expect to find a dizzying number of recipes where you can throw it in!
Garlic offers a rich array of vitamins and contains a relatively small amount of calories. Adding this flavorful vegetable to your favorite meals can help you boost your consumption of Vitamin C, Manganese, Vitamin B6, and many more beneficial nutrients.
Studies have found that properties of garlic can help lower blood pressure, reduce your risk for heart disease, and boost your immune system. It also contains antioxidants that may help people avoid Alzheimer's disease and dementia.