If your a garlic lover then it’s time you grow your own. There is nothing better than harvesting and eating your own home grown garlic. Firstly, it tastes so much better than store bought garlic, you know exactly where it came from and how it was grown. Garlic is part of the allium family and comes in two types, hardneck and softneck.
Here is the difference between the two:
- Appearance: Hardneck garlic has a woody stem that grows in the center of the bulb. It usually has fewer cloves, larger cloves, and a thick outer layer.
- Flavor: Hardneck garlic varieties tend to have a more robust and complex flavor profile. They can range from mildly spicy to intensely pungent, depending on the variety.
- Growing Conditions: Hardneck garlic thrives in colder climates and is often planted in the fall. It requires a period of vernalization (exposure to cold temperatures) to develop properly.
- Appearance: Softneck garlic lacks the woody stem found in hardneck garlic. It typically has more cloves, smaller cloves, and a soft, pliable outer layer.
- Flavor: Softneck garlic varieties generally have a milder, sweeter flavor compared to hardneck garlic. They are often described as having a slightly spicy or tangy taste.
- Growing Conditions: Softneck garlic is more adaptable and performs well in a wider range of climates. It can be planted in both fall and spring, making it suitable for various growing regions.
Garlic is very nutritious and has many health benefits. It is low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. Garlic contains compounds that have been linked to improved immune function, reduced risk of certain cancers, and heart health. Additionally, it has antimicrobial properties and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Incorporating garlic into your diet can be a flavorful way to boost your overall health.
When buying garlic bulbs it’s best to purchase from a company or person in your area or state. That way you know that the garlic you buy grows well in your state or area.
Here are the steps on how to grow garlic:
- Plant at the right time. Garlic is planted in the fall, usually 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost.
- Prepare your soil. Garlic grows best in well-drained, loose soil. If your soil is heavy, you may need to add sand or compost to improve drainage.
- Choose the right garlic. There are two main types of garlic: hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic has a stronger flavor and is more resistant to cold weather. Softneck garlic is more tender and has a milder flavor. Both are delicious and if you can you should grow them both.
- Separate the cloves. Each garlic bulb is made up of several cloves. Separate the cloves, leaving the papery husk on each clove.
- Plant the cloves. Plant the cloves pointy end up, 2 to 4 inches deep, and 4 to 6 inches apart.
- Fertilize. Add compost at planting and again in the spring.
- Water the cloves. Water the cloves well after planting.
- Mulch the cloves. Mulch around the cloves with straw, leaves, or other organic material to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Garlic Scapes: In late spring your hardneck garlic will send up a flower stalk called a scape. It will grow out curly then straighten when ready to bloom. Cut this bloom the encourage the plant to put more energy into forming bigger bulbs.
Here are some additional tips for planting garlic:
- Plant garlic in a sunny spot. Garlic needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Water the cloves regularly, especially during the first few weeks after planting.
- Harvest the garlic in the summer, when the bottom leaves have turned yellow.
The next step in growing garlic is the drying and storing process:
Drying garlic is a simple and effective way to preserve its flavor and extend its shelf life. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to dry garlic:
- Harvest and clean: Start by harvesting garlic bulbs when the foliage turns yellow and starts to dry out. Gently brush off any excess dirt.
- To cure the bulbs: Allow the freshly harvested garlic bulbs to cure in a well-ventilated, dry area for about 2-3 weeks. This process helps to further dry the outer layers and improve their storage quality.
- Prepare the garlic cloves: Once the bulbs have fully cured, break them into individual cloves, leaving the papery skin intact. Avoid removing the skin and try to keep the cloves as whole as possible.
- Store dried garlic: Once the garlic cloves are completely dry, store them in a cool dry place for storage.
- You are also able to eat your garlic harvest fresh without drying. Fresh garlic does not store well and you will want to eat it within a few weeks.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when planting garlic:
- Planting the cloves too shallowly. The cloves should be planted 2 to 4 inches deep.
- Not watering the cloves enough. Garlic needs regular water, especially during the first few weeks after planting.
- Not mulching the cloves. Mulching helps to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Garlic doesn’t compete well with weeds.
- Harvesting the garlic too early. Garlic is ready to harvest when the bottom leaves have turned yellow.
Growing garlic is so easy and hands off once you get them planted and what’s more amazing is that you can grow garlic in small gardens and containers.