Garlic is a member of the Alliaceae family along with onions shallots, leeks, and chives. It is used extensively in both cooking and for medicinal purposes.
It has a characteristic pungent flavor that mellows considerably with cooking. Growing garlic in the home vegetable garden is a must for anyone who loves to use fresh garlic cloves. It takes so little space to grow enough garlic to satisfy the needs of even the most avid garlic fans.
Garlic can be grown in both cool and warm climate areas. In warmer climates garlic is planted in the late summer early fall where it will continue to grow in the cool fall and winter months. The plants will mature over winter and produce bulbs as the days lengthen in spring.
In cooler climates garlic cloves are planted in late summer early
fall just as for in warmer climates allowing them to settle in before
the ground freezes. The garlic cloves will remain dormant throughout the
winter and will emerge early in the spring. Garlic grows best in temperatures from 55°-75°
Garlic likes deep, loose soil that is well drained and has plenty of organic matter. Growing garlic in a raised bed with good organic compost and soil that is 8-12 inches deep almost guarantees a good crop. Garlic does best when soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0.
The bulb of the garlic plant divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. The cloves are used for cloning and are the part of the plant that is used to grow the next season crop. It is the larger outer cloves that produce the best garlic plants.
Garlic is planted this way up, the thin part is the top where leaves will grow from. The bottom is wider and where the clove will put out roots from.
Garlic plants do not use much horizontal space but they do not like to be crowded. Plant the garlic cloves in the prepared bed with 6 inches between each clove. Rows of garlic should be at least 2 feet apart.
Use cloves that are of medium size for the best production. Plant garlic cloves 2 inches deep. Cover with soil and mulch.
The most important aspects of caring for garlic are;
Plant garlic cloves at the spaces they are going to grow. Garlic is not thinned.
Garlic does not need to be watered unless the ground is extremely dry. In dry climates, irrigation may be necessary. Over-watering your garlic will encourage rot and diseases. For most gardeners, covering the bed with straw mulch helps keep the soil moist enough for optimal yield.
Garlic only needs a moderate amount of fertilizer. 2 weeks before planting apply 3-4 quarts per 100 sq feet (3.3-4.4 liters per 9.3 square meters) of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer.
Onion Family members are; Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots. They are light feeders and can be planted after heavy feeders like tomatoes or peppers but preferable not after other root crops.
Bulb Mites, Maggots, Pea Leafminer, Thrips, Wheat Curl Mite
Garlic rot, Basal rot, White rot, Rust, Downy mildew.
Garlic is ready when the bottom two or three leaves have turned yellow. During the growth cycle the plant may send up a flowering shoot, these should be clipped off as low as possible on the plant. This will allow the plant to put its energy into the garlic clove and not into developing seeds.
To harvest garlic, loosen the soil with a small shovel or fork and gently ease the clove out of the ground.
Before garlic bulbs are ready for long term storage they must first be cured.
After harvesting, brush any dirt off the plants and bulbs and lay them on a screen or flat surface making sure that air can circulate around each plant. Cure the plants in a dry area in full or partial sun. Curing is complete when the skins are dry and the stems are tight, approximately 1-2 weeks.
After the garlic is fully cured, you can cut the bulbs off from the rest of the plant. Store the garlic in a cool dry place. Cured garlic lasts for 5 to 8 months in ideal conditions.