Growing garlic is probably one of the easiest plants to grow because it is low maintenance.
Get the soil composition correct from the start, and you basically need to keep it moist with regular watering to cultivate a good harvest.
Take care of the soil’s pH level, do a little mulching, and your plants will reward you with healthy growth.
Although you can experiment with growing different garlic varieties, the soft neck one is the easiest. This variety also has a longer storage life, making it the perfect addition to any garden.
Why would you want to grow garlic?
Garlic is easy to grow and has multiple benefits. Even if plants usually die under your care, garlic is a hardy plant that will grow under almost any conditions and doesn’t require much maintenance.
There are several reasons for growing garlic, including its nutritional and health benefits.
Here are several reasons for growing garlic:
Growing garlic is a straightforward process. Even if you’ve tried to grow other plants previously and have failed, the chances are that your efforts to grow garlic will be successful.
Growing garlic is a low-maintenance activity. You plant the garlic anytime from August to November or December and wait.
You can harvest garlic twice a year. The scapes (the green stalks that grow above ground) are ready for harvesting in the spring and the bulbs in summer.
Garlic survives for months after harvesting, and once dry, you can have a supply to see you through to the next harvest.
Growing garlic in the garden, planters, or raised beds take up little space, making it a convenient plant to grow almost anywhere.
Garlic is tasty enough to eat raw in salads and pasta or as delicious additions to cooked meals.
Garlic has a reputation as an antibacterial agent. It is also known to be good for fighting fungi, parasites, and viruses.
This plant is also valuable in reducing high blood pressure, fighting colds and flu, and decreasing bad cholesterol, which contributes to heart disease. In addition, the medicinal properties of this plant are thought to promote longevity, increase bone health, fight against Alzheimer’s (due to antioxidants), and eliminate heavy metals in the body.
Growing and eating garlic also means you have an excellent source of minerals and vitamins such as Manganese, Selenium, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, vitamins B1, B6, and vitamin C.
When to plant garlic
Traditional gardeners will tell you only to plant garlic in October after the last full moon. However, others are happy to wait until the end of October or the beginning of November to plant their garlic.
Some gardeners even plant their garlic in early December, but most guides say they can begin growing garlic in August. Personally, knowing that you have a window of four months is convenient for growing garlic.
When planting garlic scapes or bulbs, be sure to plant them where they will receive loads of sun.
Some people have planted garlic close to the walls of their homes, and the results have been less spectacular than planting them where they will get direct sunlight.
You can even stagger planting times from August through December, but those planted in August and September produce better crops.
You can even experiment further by using planters for your garlic.
Planters are convenient to tend, and it’s also easier to get to the garlic than bending low over garden beds. You can also spread the planters around your outside area to see where they do best.
Typically, where you live and the weather during the four planting months will determine the success of growing garlic. However, whatever route you take, you will find out for yourself when are the best times for planting.
Container or raised bed?
Growing garlic in a container or raised bed is possible, with both methods working well. The main difference is that it is easier to care for growing garlic in containers as these are typically more accessible.
However, many gardeners prefer growing garlic in containers because they claim better results than planting it in garden beds.
Growing conditions are frequently better in containers because you can more easily control them. You can place your containers under cover, indoors, or on a balcony to protect the garlic from the elements.
Another benefit of growing garlic in containers is using the compost to enrich garden soil after harvesting. Alternatively, you can simply add this rich soil to the compost heap to further decompose.
By using this method, you avoid the need to rotate crops or allow raised garden beds to lie fallow while the soil recovers.
You can grow one of three distinct types of garlic in your containers or raised beds. The one garlic variety that everyone is familiar with is the type with the soft neck.
Supermarkets usually sell this type of garlic because it lasts longer in storage and has a milder flavor than other varieties.
The soft neck garlic varieties also grow well in the warmer months, making them a favorite among gardeners.
Hard neck garlic varieties have a more robust flavor, making them perfect for roasting and other uses. Unfortunately, this variety does not store well. They also grow better in cooler climates, unlike soft neck varieties.
Lastly, you can consider growing the elephant garlic variety. This garlic type is sweet, with a mild flavor, and like the hard neck varieties, does not store well beyond a month.
The best time to plant the garlic is during the cooler months, around October through to November.
This plant tends to fair better when you give it a cold start before it begins to flourish in the warmer months. You can also plant your garlic in spring, so don’t worry if you miss planting in the colder months.
Soil to use
Fill a container or raised bed with compost for growing garlic in almost any region.
The secret is to mix soil with compost to drain well but retain its moisture for an excellent harvest. Another reason for adding compost to the ground is to alter its structure.
Adding compost lightens dense or clay-type soils to aerate the mixture. Aerating the mixture with compost also changes its structure to make it easier for the garlic to access the water.
Growing garlic will also push through the earth much easier when the soil is less compact. It adds to the nutrition of the ground, which helps boost garlic growth.
Plant the garlic four inches apart and one inch deep. Water lightly and wait for the magic to happen.
How often to water
Growing garlic is an incredibly low maintenance process. After planting, ensure you give the soil and light sprinkling of water.
Throughout the week, you should ensure that you provide the garlic between half and one inch of water. The plants should get sixteen inches of water throughout the growing season.
As the weather warms, water the plants a little more to ensure the ground stays moist without becoming waterlogged.
It is also essential that you give growing garlic a little more water during their growth spurts and increase the water content about two to four weeks before harvesting your tasty crop.
When growing garlic, you can add wood chips, plant waste from the kitchen and garden and mulch these into the soil. This waste increases the nutrition in the ground, which helps your garlic plants to grow up strong and tasty.
Add a little bonemeal to the soil surface to boost growth with nitrogen, whether you use a container or a raised bed.
It is important to add nitrogen to the dirt as this aids root growth. Another helpful addition is nitrogen or rock phosphate, which you can get at any plant nursery.
Besides digging plenty of organic matter into the soil because garlic does well in an organic medium, you can use these tips for growing garlic.
Pro-tip #1: Growing garlic loves nitrogen. Nitrogen is available in bone meal or blood meal, or other sources of synthetic nitrogen work well.
Pro-tip #2: Chicken manure pellets provide a convenient source of natural nitrogen.
Pro-tip #3: Garlic also enjoys a taste of phosphorus which you can add to the soil by using wood ash. Be cautious not to add too much ash as it will change the pH of the soil level, which won’t be beneficial for growing garlic.
Pro-tip #4: Use a soil test to check the pH of the soil as growing garlic loves levels of 6.0 and 7.0 to grow best.
Pro-tip #5: Mulch regularly to prevent weed growth as garlic does not perform well with this sort of competition.
Pro-tip #6: Soft neck garlic varieties store for a good four months as opposed to the hard neck or elephant varieties which only store well for about one month.
Pro-tip #7: Avoid trying to grow store-bought garlic as these are often covered with chemicals to prevent regrowth. In contrast, if you buy organic garlic, this will be a good option for growing purposes.
Growing garlic is easy, fun, and rewarding. Once you know how to grow this plant, it is a low-maintenance operation that essentially needs you to increase soil nutrient levels after the final harvest.
Another benefit of growing garlic in containers or raised beds is that crops create an excellent source for your compost.
Essentially, you have a cycle of composting material for each garlic growth cycle while enjoying the soft neck varieties for up to four months after harvesting.
Between planting in October up to the spring months, you can have garlic in the home for over half the year, making this a worthwhile endeavor.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.