Although garlic is readily available in the market, it would still be better if you could actually harvest your own home-grown crop. The reality is that growing your own is very easy and a fun activity. A lot of people nowadays grow garlic themselves.
There are a lot of garlic varieties that one can choose from and would depend on the preference of the person doing it and many of which are easily grown at home.
Garlic is actually grown from a single clove and this clove acts as the seed. The bulbs grow from the ground and the leaves protrude from it in the air. This single clove will then produce one plant with only a single bulb of which around twenty cloves are usually contained.
The process of growing garlic at the comfort of your home and garden is tackled farther here, step by step.
Seed and Soil Selection
The first step in this process is seed selection. Ideally, choose a garlic clove that has a good shape and a plump size for it is this part that would determine the future bulb size. A good choice of soil would be the next step, although it can actually grow in a wide variety of soil types. Preferably, a deep, fertile, and a not too damp soil is needed. Also, pick out an area in the garden where sunlight is abundant. It is also a good habit to include and incorporate a general garden fertilizer before or at the time of sowing, of which a lot of well-rotted compost would be perfect. Your soil’s pH must be above 6.0 but, if possible, a pH of 6.5 -7.0 is best. In cases like in a limestone country, usually the soils there benefit from a liming at least one month or more before planting. Garlic is said to be a very friendly plant that it can actually grow well even with other plants and vegetables.
Preparing the Seed for Planting
Right before planting the seeds, “cracking” is done. It is achieved by breaking the bulbs into individual cloves while making sure that it is cleanly separated from the basal plate, thus leaving an intact “footprint”. It is from the edge of the footprint that the root nodules arise from, so it is really important not to damage it. It is best to do the cracking as close to the time of planting as possible so that the root nodules will not dry out and the seeds can easily set roots in the soil, which is ideally within 24 hours.
Planting the Seed
One can plant the seeds in a single, double rows or in an intensive bed with probably four to six plants across and 4 to 8 inches apart each other. It has been observed that tighter spacing in the beds usually produces a larger number of plants with smaller bulbs.
When planting the seeds, the cloves should be placed individually, upright and about an inch (25 mm) under the surface and standing erect, about 4 inches (100 mm) apart. The rows should be about 18 inches (450 mm) apart.
A few weeks before harvesting the crop, it is advised to stop watering the plants. When talking about the best time to harvest, various growers have different rule of thumb and the dying away of the leaves is just an approximate indicator that it is indeed time to reap what you have sown. It is said that when the crop reaches its maturity, the leaves turn brown then die away. Through experience, it has been observed that if the plants are harvested too early, the cloves are very small and if taken too late, the bulb have splits.
You can use a shovel that is flat and narrow-bladed to loosen the ground around the plant and gently lift the plant using your hand, being extra careful as garlic bruises easily. Appropriate handling of the crop after it has been harvested is actually as important as when it was still growing. It is imperative that the garlic is dried correctly, or else it will rot. The bulbs on the other hand are usually hanged in a cool, dry place. About a week or so, you can take them down and clear off of dirt gently. It is recommended not to wash the bulbs at this point.