I think we can all agree: that the world wouldn't be the same without garlic; garlic plants are one of the easiest to grow. This pungently potent vegetable is delightfully easy to grow. And as a natural pest and fungus deterrent, it makes a powerful companion to a variety of plants, from herbs and veggies to flowers and fruit trees.
Revered throughout antiquity for its cultural significance and healing potential, entire books and festivals have been dedicated solely to growing this vegetable – and many more to eating it!
A close-up of freshly harvested Allium sativum bulbs, with roots, soil, and stems still attached, in bright sunshine. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.
Adding depth and flavor to countless savory dishes, these healthful bulbs can be grown and enjoyed in almost any climate. Let's find out why this centerpiece of gastronomy is an absolute must-have in your garden. Not only is it straightforward to grow and a delight to devour, but there could also be some healthy, healing perks in it for you, too.
The species of garlic that is used in cooking is not found in nature; instead, it is the result of millennia of selective breeding by humans. Garlic is considered to be a cultigen. The Asian steppes are the natural habitat of its closest wild relatives, and it was there that cultivation first began approximately 7,000 years ago.
A bunch of just-picked Allium sativum is being held aloft by a hand coming in from the left side of the frame. There is no separation between the roots, the earth, or the stems. The background becomes blurry as it recedes into the distance.
Garlic is a plant that belongs to the genus Allium and is classified as a bulbous perennial. Its near relatives include chives, leeks, onions, and shallots. It may reach a height of 18–24 inches, and its head, also known as the bulb, functions as a storage organ that stores fuel reserves in preparation for harsh and wintry weather.
Garlic thrives in USDA Zones 4-9 and is resistant to a wide range of environmental stresses. It is common to practice to cultivate this plant as an annual in herb and vegetable gardens due to its pungently fragrant flat leaves that resemble grass and segmented bulbs.
Hardneck types need a few months to develop a flower stem that is referred to as a scape. This is followed by the development of substantial umbel blooms. Scapes can occasionally develop from softnecks as well.
An extreme close-up of pink garlic umbels with two honeybees eating on the flowers. The brilliant pink umbels stand out against the bright green scapes, which gradually get out of focus when exposed to the daylight.
If allowed to mature, the umbels, which are also known as flower heads, will open to expose spectacular flowers in the shape of stars in various colors of pink and white. Pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and ladybugs are drawn to the flowers as they bloom around the end of spring.
The seeds develop into miniature bulbils, which resemble teeny-tiny garlic cloves and can be found growing at the tip of the scape. These are genetically indistinguishable from the plant that served as their parent. Therefore there is no risk of pollen transfer between various types that are cultivated in close proximity.
Although it is possible to grow garlic from these seeds, the ideal way to propagate the plant is from its mature cloves. This approach has the highest chance of success and typically produces more giant bulbs.
A garlic bunch that has been dried out and has had its roots and stems removed is placed on a wooden tray. Next to it are several that have had the cloves removed and are resting on a green hardwood surface with distress. Garlic is a popular ingredient in virtually every cuisine throughout the world because of its robust flavor, which contrasts with its easy and uncomplicated growth. This is one of the reasons why garlic is so widely used. There are two distinct types of garlic that are available for purchase in most cases. Either soft neck varieties, A. sativum, or hardneck variations, A. sativum var. ophioscorodon.
Let's have a look at the distinctions between the two.
The majority of the garlic that is sold in grocery stores is soft neck garlic, which is commonly referred to as "real" garlic. This is due to the fact that they have a higher rate of production, are simpler to cultivate — particularly in warmer regions — and can be stored for a more extended period of time.
On a dark, weathered wooden board are situated two enormous bunches of garlic that have been bound together by the stems; the bulbs have withered and papery skin. The backdrop is not sharply focused.
They are referred to as softness due to the fact that in the summer, their above-ground stalks may flop over, which is an indication that they are ready to be harvested.
What is the most entertaining advantage of being a softneck? After the bulbs have been removed and cured, you may plait them together and utilize them in the kitchen.
This section of the garlic family tree has a more significant number of subgroupings and cultivars than any other. Depending on the variety you select, various characteristics, including color, bulb size, clove size, taste profile, cold tolerance, and storage capacity, may change.
The stalks of hardnecks, which live true to their name by remaining rigid and erect even after they have died back, give these plants their common name.
On a wooden tabletop, there are seven unclipped heads of dried and cured stiff neck garlic bulbs, along with peeled cloves that are spread over the surface.
It is more difficult to braid hardnecks, but you receive a different benefit from this subspecies: the delicious scapes, which are the flower stalks and buds. Scapes are a culinary delicacy, and we'll discuss them in more detail later.
If you reside in an area that is suitable for plant growth, it may be well worth your time to put in the extra effort to cultivate these varieties since you will be rewarded with a more excellent range of flavors, more colour depth, and larger bulb sizes. There is a caveat, though, and that is that you must ingest it in its raw form in order to benefit from its purportedly potent curative qualities. This is due to the fact that crushing garlic causes a chemical known as allicin to be produced. The formation of this compound takes around ten minutes.
A pair of hands carrying a bundle of dried purple-white garlic bulbs that have been knotted together at the stems. The backdrop consists of dark earth that is out of focus. Some research, such as a review that was published in 2014 in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, demonstrates that allicin possesses potent antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, such as the ability to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and fungus.
Due to the rapid oxidation of most of the allicin and the loss of its antibacterial capabilities, garlic must be consumed as promptly as possible in order to reap the full advantages. When heated over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, its efficacy is significantly reduced.
This indicates that you won't discover these outstanding antibacterial characteristics in dried powder or even in cloves that have been prepared using cloves from your own garden. In spite of this, the fact that it is so simple to cultivate and that it yields such a delectable taste makes it well worth your time.
garlic plant cultivation
The history of garlic is quite extensive and exciting. When it was still in its natural state, our scavenging forebears were the ones who discovered and began to exploit it as a source of sustenance. This is just the beginning of a lengthy, multifaceted, and epic-sized story.
In a cluster of Allium sativum plants with bulbous white cloves, light green stalks, and dark rich soil under strong sunshine, the roots are still linked to the plants.
Domesticated and grown in the Middle East about 7,000 years ago, it was welcomed by various ancient civilizations, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians, among many others, as an indispensable spice, food, and even medicine.
The "Codex Ebers," a medical treatise that was utilized by priests in ancient Egypt, is where the first recorded reference to the year 1550 B.C. can be discovered.
It is said to have been cultivated in the hanging gardens of Babylon, and the people referred to it as a "rank rose." Today, a similar word of affection is employed, and it is that of the "stinking rose!"
Some historical nuggets that you might find fascinating are as follows:
It was an essential and potent Ayurvedic cure in India. Ayurveda is a healing system that is being observed today, and it makes use of both food and plants as medicine.
A magnified view of purple and white garlic cloves, complete with their associated roots and seen in brilliant sunshine.
The Egyptians supported its production in order to boost the resistance, strength, and health of the lower class of people who were less well-nourished. Garlic was given to athletes in ancient Greece in the hope that it would boost their strength and endurance. Roman physicians utilized it for a wide variety of purposes, including curing diseases and wounds.
A significant number of these applications are still in use today, with the backing of scientific study and endorsement from alternative practitioners and herbalists.
You may get a book written by journalist Michael Castleman titled "The New Healing Herbs: The Essential Guide to More Than 125 of Nature's Most Potent Herbal Remedies" on Amazon. This book might provide you with further knowledge about the intriguing history of garlic.
It is possible to cultivate garlic from its own seeds; however, this technique is challenging and unpredictable.
A close-up shot of two dried garlic bulbs and six light pink cloves sitting on a white wooden board, with the backdrop gradually becoming out of focus. The cultivation of annual growth from cloves, which are the individual bulb parts, is the favored technique of propagation for both commercial producers and home gardeners.
When using the bulbs that you have collected yourself, save the bigger ones for replanting and utilize the smaller ones in the kitchen. The grocery store is not the place to buy bulbs; instead, you should go to your local garden center or a trustworthy internet seller who sells garden supplies.
A close-up of garlic bulbs that have begun to grow new shoots. The papery dry surface of the bulbs creates an exciting contrast with the green stalks. The earth may be seen out of focus in the background. The ones from the grocery are capable of growing. However, in order to keep them from sprouting while they are displayed in stores, they are frequently treated with chemical agents. And they haven't been hand-selected for disease resistance, size, or any of the other features that farmers and gardeners seek for growth purposes, like size or resistance to disease. When selecting bulbs, look for ones that are big and solid, devoid of brown patches, soft areas, or shriveling, and that still have their paper tunics on the outside.
How to plant garlic
One of the first crops to emerge in spring, garlic thrives in well-draining, fertile soil with a loamy texture and requires full sun to produce the giant bulbs.
Hardneck varieties require a period of vernalization (cold winter exposure) before or after sowing. The ideal conditions to stimulate bulb formation need exposure to 40-50°F temperatures for a period of 6-12 weeks over the winter months. Vernalization occurs naturally in regions with cold winters, but in milder areas, several weeks of storage in the produce drawer of your refrigerator will provide the required temperatures and humidity levels.
Softneck varieties are better suited for growing in warm climates, but they also perform better with a period of vernalization. Refrigerator storage for 8-12 weeks before sowing produces the largest bulbs.
Look for bulbs that have been pre-chilled at the nursery to save time. These will be ready to plant.
Cloves can be planted in spring or fall, but bulbs from fall sown garlic tend to be larger with more profound, more complex flavors than those sown in spring.
Fall sowing is optimal in September and October in most regions, with the end of November being a specific cut-off date for planting.
Spring sowing is not recommended because bulb formation halts in hot temperatures, and garlic require a long growth period. However, if you must sow in spring, March provides a small window of opportunity if your local conditions permit sowing at that time.
When sown in fall, plants lay down roots until the ground freezes. This late growing period gives them an excellent head start, with explosive growth triggered by warm spring temperatures.
Till the soil deeply, and amend with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.
Garlic must be grown in well-draining soil, and excessive moisture is the leading cause of disease. A raised bed improves drainage and can be beneficial in areas with high rainfall levels or heavy soil.
A pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is preferred, and lime should be added several weeks before planting if the pH is lower than 6.0.
Separate the bulbs carefully into individual cloves with the skins still intact. Set each one approximately 2 inches deep in the soil, with the flat end down and the pointed tip placed about 1-2 inches deep. Space 4-6 inches apart in rows or grouped in pockets.
Plant a little deeper if heavy rains or heaving frosts might expose the cloves, and a bit shallower in rich soils or when using a thick mulch after planting.
Fertilize only after growth starts in spring, then every 30 days until the end of May. Use an all-purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10. This is the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium, the main macronutrients required for plants to grow.
Broadcast granular fertilizer over the bed, or work it in as a side dressing. Don't over-fertilize, as this can result in too much top growth with under-developed bulbs.
Bulbs require only moderate to average water levels and benefit from a thick, 6-inch layer of dry mulch such as clean straw, evergreen boughs, or fern fronds added when you plant them.
In winter, mulch provides protection against cold temperatures and drying winds. In summer, adding a layer of mulch helps to retain moisture, maintains cool soil temperatures, and keeps weeds down.
Garlic tends to struggle in tropical and sub-tropical growing zones due to excessive humidity, moisture, and rainfall.
In Zone 8 and higher, garlic can be grown year-round – conditions here are ideal for soft neck varieties that require little or no winter covering.
In Zone 7 and lower, hardnecks are a better option, thanks to their cold hardiness. These varieties do require a winter mulch to develop the healthiest plants.
The following tips will help you to enjoy the best harvest possible:
Remove scapes before flowering to concentrate energy in the bulb. But don't discard them – they're delicious sauteed or stir-fried!
Prevent premature sprouting in warm spells with a thick mulch to keep bulbs cool. Use mulch to keep weeds down, and hand weed between plants to avoid disturbing bulbs.
When a bit more than half of the lower leaves have yellowed, withered, and died, bulbs are ready for harvest.
One of the most effective companion crops for the garden, garlic's high sulfur signature is a natural pest and fungus repellent. And because it's compatible with most plants, it makes an excellent crop to scatter throughout the garden.
It's known to deter a variety of pests, including:
And there are only a few plants that don't like to be near this pungent Allium. In the garden (but not the kitchen!), keep it away from asparagus, beans, and peas – it can stunt their growth.
There's no need to plant long rows as a companion – just intersperse bulbs in pockets throughout the garden to maximize its many benefits.
softneck vs hardneck
These silvery-white, thin-skinned softnecks are very easy to grow, with the best storage capacity of all types.
This kind produces tons of cloves with that trademark pungent flavor. They're best for growing in warmer climates. And some varieties have a blush-red, rosy tint.
Recommended cultivars include 'Creole Red,' 'Silverwhite,' and 'Nootka Rose.'
'Nootka Rose' has a strong flavor and is exceptionally productive. Bulbs are available from Burpee.
These have thicker skins and many complex layers of cloves like an artichoke, from whence they got their name. They're the kind you're the most likely to stumble upon at the grocery store.
Milder in flavor than other types, it's not uncommon for cultivars of this variety to have a purple or red hue.
As the hardiest soft neck variety, this is a good option for growing in colder regions.
Popular varieties include 'California Early,' 'California Late,' and 'Inchelium Red.'
Pick up the pleasing flavor and medium pungency of 'Inchelium Red' from Gurney's Edible Garden, available from Home Depot.
Did You Know? Elephant garlic, the popular enormous roasting variety, is not actually a clove of true garlic at all – it is, in fact, a subspecies of leek. However, these are planted and grown the exact same way as your typical garlic.
Big in size but with a mild, nutty flavor, elephant bulbs are available from Burpee.
Here are a few of the main hardneck types to consider for your garden:
The oldest stiff neck variety, these are showy with beautiful purple stripes and delicate, papery skins.
Very cold tolerant, but this cultivar is also better for warm climates than most other hardnecks.
Size and flavor at Maturity can vary, though these tend to be average or small, with a moderate to warm flavor.
Recommended strains include 'Purple Glazer,' 'Chesnok Red,' and 'Bogatyr' (that last one is scorching and pungent!).
For a bulb with medium flavor and mild scapes, try 'Chesnok Red,' available from Burpee.
Probably the most widely grown of hardnecks, these have less thick, more parchment-like skins, making them better suited to cooking. Thinner skins mean easier peeling – with cloves that fall right off the bulb and skins that come away with little to no effort.
The potential drawback here is that these less-protected cloves can be more vulnerable to bruising and damage during harvest.
They need to be handled quite carefully. Bulbs that crumble or fall apart easily have shorter shelf lives than those with intact cloves that remain attached to their original bulbs. 'Rocambole' is a variety you will probably want to eat up quickly after you pick it!
Some cloves have purple or red stripes or blotches of color, and this variety does best in cold climates.
Popular cultivars include 'German Red,' 'Deerfield Purple' (aka 'Vietnamese'), and 'Ukrainian Red.'
With a warm, rich flavor and moderate heat, 'Deerfield Purple' is famous for growing in more fabulous gardens. Pick up bulbs from Gurney's Edible Garden at Home Depot.
This type is known for producing larger cloves with smooth, thick, and papery-white skins.
With a bold but moderate flavor compared to other types, these are known for their fantastic longevity in storage.
Porcelain varieties may have the best cold tolerance of all, and they are ideal for growing in cold climates but more challenging to grow in warmer locales.
Though rare, cultivars of this type sometimes exhibit blushes of purple and rose.
pests and diseases
Though trouble from pests is uncommon, garlic can suffer from various diseases. Look for resistant varieties when you do your shopping, and plant the appropriate type of garlic for your growing zone for the best results.
According to Michelle M. Moyer at The Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at Cornell University, the following are the most common diseases to watch out for when growing garlic:
Basal rot often shows as yellowing, followed by dieback of the leaves and a white growth around the bulb base.
A soil-borne fungus, avoid planting wounded or damaged cloves and rotate allium crops annually to reduce the chance of infection.
White spots and fuzz form on plants, hampering growth potential.
Downy mildew is usually the result of overly damp environments or plants spaced too closely together. Provide excellent drainage, proper spacing, and adequate air circulation to avoid welcoming conditions.
This fungal infection is the result of poor storage of seed stock and planting wounded or bruised cloves.
To prevent infection, dry your seed cloves thoroughly, using the methods that we'll get to later in this article.
This disease is exhibited by fluffy, fuzzy fungal growth on the stem and bulb of plants that quickly causes them to rot and die.
Avoid re-sowing in plots with the disease if you notice an infection – white rot can last in the soil for two decades – and remove infected plants quickly. Heat treating seed cloves in hot water – "hot," meaning 100-115°F, but NOT over 120°F – can prevent pathogen spread.
The garlic harvest typically starts a few weeks after summer begins if you have planted in the fall. Hot summer weather triggers bulb maturation, shutting down foliage growth in preparation for dormancy.
You can tell when your bulbs are ready to be harvested based on a handful of different markers, which are as follows:
The first sign is yellowing and drying out of somewhat more than half of the lowest leaves on the plant. Hardneck types will have leaves that have withered and become brown, but they will keep their flower stems straight. When the bulbs develop, all of the leaves of softnecks will fold over on top of themselves.
Alternately, you may assess the size of a few bulbs by digging up a few of them around the middle of July. If they've grown to the extent you expected, it's time to take them out of the ground!
A garlic bulb that has been recently dug up from the garden is being held by a hand on the left side of the picture. There is soil and roots still connected to the plant, while the other hand is holding an orange garden trowel. The background is comprised of green greenery that looks blurry.
After the end of July, there is a very low probability that they will continue to develop. You may wait until August or perhaps September to determine whether they will become a bit bigger, but the increase won't be very significant. No matter what, you should get all of your bulbs removed by the end of September at the very latest.
To get ready for harvesting, loosen the dirt all around and beneath the plant's roots with a hand trowel or garden fork. To prevent the bulbs from being damaged, provide a space of up to 12 inches between them and the plant stem.
On the left side of the picture are two hands covered in latex gloves, and they are depicted carefully removing garlic bulbs from the dark, rich soil. On the right side of the image are recently harvested bulbs, and the ground, roots, and stems are still attached to them. The backdrop is composed of black earth.
Holding each plant by the neck near the bulb, carefully pull it out of the dirt while maintaining a gentle grip. If the leaves are difficult to tugging, you should avoid pulling too hard on them. Instead, work your fingers under the bulb's base and raise it gently to remove it from the dirt.
To get bulbs ready for curing and storing, brush off any extra soil and trim the roots so that they are near to the bulb.
processing and putting away
Curing refers to the process of drying an item to the point of complete dehydration, which is necessary for full taste development. Curing also helps to ensure that an item may be stored for a long time without becoming discolored or rotting.
In the front is dark, rich soil, while in the backdrop is dazzling sunshine, which illuminates a garden fork and newly dug garlic bulbs.
On the other hand, garlic is ready for consumption the moment it is removed from its skin. It's as simple as washing, peeling, and eating; there's no need to wait for the curing process to be finished. The flavor of garlic that has been freshly picked is often more subdued than the flavor of garlic that has been cured.
Even complete plants may be pulled up in the spring, and the underdeveloped bulbs can be cooked and eaten like leeks. This is a sort of garlic referred to as "green garlic," It is an option that may be found in select restaurants and farmer's markets, and it is an excellent substitute for the bulb variety of garlic. It is possible to eat both the leaves and the juvenile bulbs.
A picture was taken from above showing four bunches of garlic with their stems tied together and dangling from the eaves of a home so that the garlic can dry. Below them are pots of red and white flowers, and in the backdrop, there is a garden with trees, grass, and a swing seat, all bathed in dazzling sunlight.
Consider the following options for long-term storage:
It is possible to dry bulbs, keep the scapes intact, and then braid them into aesthetically pleasing bunches. You may also cut them off after the harvest, but if you do that, make sure to leave a stalk at least 7 inches long attached to the bulb. This will allow the bulb to cure more effectively by removing moisture from the cloves.
Allow the bulbs to cure for a further week or two before storing them if the stem still has a wet and pliable feel. An excellent, dry, and well-ventilated space should be used to suspend the knotted bunches.
If you choose to clip your garlic instead, you should keep it in containers that allow airflow; the best options are breathable crates, boxes, or shelves. Keep the garlic in loose heaps. The bamboo steamers may be used as convenient containers for storing the bulbs.
A top-down image of a little wooden dish with dried garlic bulbs, set against a background of dark earthy soil and illuminated by brilliant sunlight.
The healing process might take anywhere from four to six weeks. Check on the process daily; you'll know the cloves are ripe when the papery skin begins to flake off, but they still have a solid texture in your hand. After that, you may trim off any excess plant material and store it anywhere you'd like, such as in a dry basket kept in a cold, dark cabinet or a paper bag stored in the refrigerator. And if you want your harvest to last, there is one more step that is crucial to take: sort your garlic.
The most prominent heads should be saved for use as seed the following year in an excellent, dry location. Take care not to break them apart into cloves, and put them in a position where they won't be exposed to light. In the cooking that you do, use the smaller ones.
ideas for cooking
Using it in food preparation is undeniably one of the most delicate and evident reasons to cultivate it in your backyard.
The image shows a close-up of a wooden chopping block with some rosemary sprigs, four garlic bulbs, and six cloves that have been peeled and sliced. At the bottom of the picture frame is a knife with a handle made of wood.
Here are some recipe suggestions that make use of garlic harvested from your garden:
You may add a punch of additional flavor to your recipe by crushing, slicing, mincing, chopping, or even tossing in whole cloves. To a significant extent, the taste of soups, stews, and broths is influenced by adding garlic. A magnified view of dried garlic cloves that have been stripped of their papery skin, as well as their roots and stems.
You may also roast whole heads, which results in a delectable spread that can be used on toast or as a garnish for dishes that feature proteins, roasted veggies, or handmade pizza.
In addition to basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and cheese, the component garlic is essential to the preparation of pesto. In addition, the delicious scapes are a wonderful accent to the dish. A zoomed-in view of two freshly gathered bunches of garlic scapes is secured with rubber bands and placed on an unfinished hardwood tabletop.
You will fall in love with the deep, savory flavor of veggies grilled with balsamic vinegar and garlic. You may find the recipe on our other website, Foodal.
These parsley mashed potatoes are the silkiest and creamiest of all the mashed potato recipes, and they make a delicious side dish. You may obtain the recipe right now on Foodal.
Try Foodal's handmade garlic aioli if you're looking for the best dip with your French fries or vegetables; it's packed with flavor. Be sure to give these Italian-style wings with basil and Parmesan cheese a go the next time you watch a sporting event. But make a lot of them since they're always popular. Food contains the recipe in its database.
Consume the cloves in their raw form as frequently as possible for the maximum potential health advantages; nevertheless, doing so might be difficult. Causing indigestion or stomach cramps in some people, raw cloves have a taste and heat that may be overpowering. Consuming them should be done with caution because of these potential side effects.
A close-up of garlic bulbs that are white on the outside and purple on the inside, complete with their roots and stems, set against a background of dark wood and lit by gentle sunshine.
However, a cold-water press of the cloves, such as in a warm or cold tea, can keep some of the allicin, and it may function as a moderate antibacterial tisane. This was discovered by several research, including the one cited here. However, it would not even have the same impact as the new items!
According to the findings of this research study, using garlic as a culinary herb daily delivers allicin in addition to other beneficial phytonutrients that may improve health and immunity. The bulbs also contain an additional powerful chemical known as ajoene, shown in several studies to have potential anti-cancer and diabetic control applications.
Examples of common pests include bulb mites, leafminers, nematodes, onion maggots, and thrips.
Diseases such as white rot, penicillium decay, downy mildew, and basal rot are relatively common.
For Cultivating, Consuming, and Recuperating. It shouldn't be too difficult to include more garlic into your diet; all you have to do is go to the shop, get some, and prepare it in your kitchen using any method and combination of ingredients you choose.
But growing it yourself is a considerably more satisfying experience, as many gardeners, farmers, and foodies have discovered for thousands of years.
A close-up photograph of a bunch of purple and white garlic, hanging from the light green scapes, with some roots still attached, set against a background of garden plants that are blurred out of focus.
You may feel the tremendous rewards, pleasure, and ownership of having raised your plants if you have your bulbs to enjoy right from your yard. Additionally, growing your food is frequently associated with producing food that is both more flavorful and more nutritious, So go do some garlic plant care!