Nowadays, people have more access to gardening. They are more interested in planting and harvesting their own crops and vegetables in the comfort of their homes. Some people love to plant flowers such as roses, sunflowers, and daisies.
Some people grow their trees and vegetables that they can consume months after, but have you ever considered trying to make your spice like garlic, a spice that adds flavour to almost every dish. Its strong aroma and taste add appetite to anyone.
What is Garlic?
Garlic, which is considered as a vegetable, botanically, is well known for its multiple uses. It belongs to the family of onions, together with chives and leeks. Garlic is the second most widely used cultivated Alliums (Bulb) in the world, next to the onion.
This plant is composed of its tall stem, long leaves, and bulb. The bulb, which is covered with thin paper like a sheet, is removed before consumption. The garlic is composed of 10-20 edible cloves, which is frequently used as a spice; however, the plant’s leaves and flowers can also be eaten and used as food flavour. But, garlic is rarely consumed in large amounts and often used in small quantities because of its overpowering taste.
People use it as a primary ingredient in garlic enriched flavour foods, for frying, sauce, baking, and the list go on and on. It is commonly sautéed, roasted, boiled, and could be used crushed, peeled, or whole. People use it as a herb or spice than vegetables. Moreover, due to the unique flavour and aroma that is given on various dishes, it is mainly used as a spice that is well known all around the world across different cultures for more than thousands of years.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic, being an excellent plant, also has a lot of health benefits. Studies say that consuming 4 grams or 1-2 cloves of its bulb provides substantial health benefits such as maintaining cholesterol level, blood pressure, decreased blood cloths, treatment for asthma, bronchitis, and cough. It is also known for its bacteria-fighting effects and enhanced immune function.
Now that we know what this plant is and its health implications. Shall we move on planting it? Maybe you consider growing your garlic in containers.
How to Grow Garlic from Cloves?
There are a few steps to remember for how to grow garlic.
The soil preparation
Garlic is known to be a dry season crop. It is harvested during summer but is more productive during cold seasons because that’s when bulbs are usually formed. During the early stage of the formation of this plant, it mostly needs cold weather; however, it needs a dry atmosphere and climate when it is harvested.
The best soil to use to have excellent, big-headed garlic is a loose and fertile soil or clay alluvial and sandy loam. To prepare the ground, the gardener must obtain a fine and firm surface by plowing and harrowing the soil three times. You need to loosen the soil with a digging fork. By doing this, the unwanted weeds will die, and you will have a healthy canvas for planting you need. After this, prepare a five inches deep furrow that is 15-30 inches apart. Saturate the soil by irritating the soil area and wait for two days until the ground is ready for planting.
It is essential to choose the kind of garlic that you want. There are different types of garlic; soft necks and hard necks. Soft necks bear more cloves with larger ones on the outside and smaller ones on the inside while hard necks have cloves that grow around from a hard stalk on the centre. This stalk grows into a long flower stem, usually cut off so that it will not steal energy from the bulb.
The gardener must prepare the clove that he will use, the day before the planting. The cloves must be separated from one another and leaving the smaller ones behind. Make sure that the paper-like protective layer of each clove will not be removed. Soak the cloves for 2 minutes in a solution (3 tbsp. of malathion added on a 5 gallon of water). Drain the cloves before planting them.
Planting garlic cloves
Plant the garlic cloves by holding the clove between your thumb and pushing it down in the prepared soil. Remember to press the ¼ of the clove downwards under the ground and press it carefully. Make sure that you plant the cloves on a row that is 20 cm away from one another. To keep your soil healthy and weed-free, do not forget to do regular weeding.
Watering the garlic cloves
Do not overwater the plant because excessive water is not suitable for the formation of garlic bulbs. Irrigate the soil when it is already dried up only to retain the regular moisture of the surface. Garlic doesn’t need much water, but it also hates to be dried up; therefore, it only needs enough moisture to survive.
During spring, the top starts to grow when the weather is warm and the days are longer, to control the pests, some gardener fertilizes twice with liquid kelp, and fish emulsion solution; first during the start of growth of the garlic and the next is a month later.
When to Harvest Garlic?
It is ready to be harvested when the plant already has 5-6 green leaves during early summer or late spring. You will know that your garlic is already matured when ¾ of its leaves have already dried up. Each leaf represents a wrapped later surrounding the head. In harvesting, choose a warm day when the soil is also dry. Drive your garden fork beneath the ground and carefully pull the garlic out.
Shake off the dirt that surrounds your garlic and put your harvest on a pile. Let the whole plants dry out in the sun; make sure that the weather is warm and not too hot. When the outer skin is already papery, brush more dirt (further clean up will shorten the life of the garlic) and clip the roots. Make sure to keep away your harvest from the water and sunlight and put it in an airy location.
Enjoy your healthy and yummy spice at the end of the season. Harvesting your plants is satisfying and a very cool way to ease your stress and start a new hobby! It is fun and easy.