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Garlic is a vegetable that is easy to grow. Green thumb or not, garlic cloves will thrive when planted. The best garlic cloves for planting come from local organic growers or farmers' markets. But one may wonder if store-bought garlic can also be used to grow garlic? Ask no more, we have done some research to give you the answer.
Store-bought cloves can be planted and will grow new bulbs of garlic. Just bear in mind that these might not yield as well because these have been sprayed with chemicals to hamper growth. That being said, there's no stopping you from growing store-bought garlic cloves. Here are the steps to growing garlic with cloves from the store:
- Loosen soil
- Separate garlic bulb
- Plant in a sunny area
- Space them apart
- Cover with mulch
- Water the plant
These outlined steps point to a DIY home garden project. But before you gather the garlic cloves in your kitchen, read on further to get more insights on growing garlic.
Garlic or Allium sativum is a vegetable that is part of the onion family. Its leaves and bulb are edible. The bulb has at least 10 to 20 cloves, depending on the size of each clove.
Since it is edible, garlic is one of the most common cooking ingredients that punches a lot of flavor into any dish. It's readily available in markets and groceries because of its versatility. Use it in any meat or vegetable dish by crushing, mincing, or as a whole bulb.
Also, garlic grows green leaves, more known as garlic scapes. These are usually cut off while the garlic is growing, so it does not take away nutrients needed by the bulb. The garlic scrapes can make soup, pasta, or salad. You may also use it to infuse its flavor with olive oil.
On the other hand, garlic is also medicinal. Research has shown that taking 1 - 2 raw cloves of garlic can lower blood pressure. It can also reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of blood clots. Garlic also has antimicrobial properties and can improve the immune system.
Growing garlic in your backyard is a good idea with all these benefits. Garlic cloves from the store have good potential to grow into garlic bulbs.
How to Plant Garlic
1. Loosen Soil
Prepare the area just before planting. First, remove the weeds. Then, loosen the soil and mix with organic compost and slow-release fertilizer. Garlic needs a lot of nutrients for its growth.
Use soil that drains water well. This will ensure that the water does make soil soggy and cause roots to rot. The best soil to use is sandy loam, which drains well but maintains moisture. Do not plant in clay-based soil, as this prevents water from draining.
2. Separate Garlic Bulb
Use unpeeled garlic cloves. Break apart the bulb into individual cloves. But as much as possible, leave the skin or the papery covering of the garlic intact. This serves as a protection from bacteria that cause the plant to die. It also will make the root grow first before a sprout comes out.
3. Plant in a Sunny Area
Plant the cloves in a sunny spot. The garlic plant thrives best in an area with 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. This will give bigger heads of garlic. It s a free source of energy for plants as well.
It will still thrive in a less sunny area too. The bulb size might be smaller but will not affect the flavor.
4. Space Them Apart
Garlic cloves must be planted 4 to 8 inches apart on a shallow trench. This will give enough space for the bulb to grow. Planting them too close will stunt their growth. Roots will fight over the nutrients from this soil. Leaves that sprout might overlap. This will deprive covered leaves of sun exposure.
Make sure that the pointed tip faces upward. This is the only part of the clove where there will be sprout growth. Planting it upward will help make the bulb grow with a straight neck.
It has to be planted 2 inches below the soil. This will ensure that the clove will not get exposed to the weather changes.
5. Cover with Mulch
After planting, place 3 to 4 inches of mulch where you planted the garlic cloves. This will protect your plant from temperature shifts from winter to spring. It will also control the growth of weeds. Also, mulch will help retain moisture on the soil during springtime.
Mulch can be dried leaves and other plant debris. Compost is a good alternative for mulching. It covers the soil to retain moisture and is a source of nutrients for plant growth. Wood chips are another mulch option.
6. Water the Plant
Garlic cloves that have just been planted need water for root development. But do not overwater as garlic does not thrive in soil with high moisture.
In dry and hot seasons, you may water less frequently. This will allow the maturity of bulbs in time for the harvest season.
Tips in Growing Garlic
We have listed some tips on how to grow garlic.
Use liquid seaweed fertilizer.
Farmers have recommended soaking the bulbs in liquid seaweed solution. Garlic will sprout faster if you do this overnight before planting.
A seaweed solution is an organic fertilizer with nutrients that encourage plant growth. This comes in solid and liquid forms. The liquid fertilizer is more popular as it gives much faster results than its powder or granular version.
Choose the big cloves.
Big and healthy garlic cloves are best for planting. These will yield big-sized garlic bulbs, especially if you plant organic garlic. The bigger cloves will also store more energy to make your plant grow quicker. Also, the bigger-sized cloves will be strong enough to prevent damage during frost season.
When to Plant Garlic?
The months of September to November are the best times to plant garlic. The aim is for it to grow roots before the plant takes a rest. During the cold season, plant growth slows down and just stores energy.
For colder areas, plant 6 to 8 weeks before the first light freeze in fall. This is recommended for places where the temperature drops for a long time below the 32 degrees freezing point. This "killing frost" will cause the top part of a plant to die.
Cover the garlic plant with a floating row cover to avoid frost on the plant's exposed part.
Will Garlic Grow on a Raised Bed?
Raised beds should have a width of 2-3 feet and a height of at least 10-12 inches from the ground. You do not step on a raised bed that minimizes soil compression. Roots will thrive more in less compacted soil.
If you have limited space, you may also grow garlic in pots. Use pots that are at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Make sure that the pot has holes for water to pass through.
How Long will a Garlic Bulb Grow?
It will take at least 8 months for the garlic bulb to grow. You can harvest it in late spring or early summer if garlic is planted in autumn. A good indication of the time for harvest is when there are 5 to 6 green leaves. Do not wait for at least 2 leaves to turn brown before harvesting.
When it is time to harvest, loosen the soil with a small shovel or fork. When digging for the bulb, be careful as this can bruise easily.
Once you have removed the bulbs from the ground, do not wash off the dirt. Instead, cure the bulbs by hanging them for 2 weeks.
After the curing period, clean the bulb by cutting off the tip and roots. Brush off the dirt and flaky skin from the outer layer.
This process of harvesting and curing will make garlic suitable for longer shelf life. Continue to store in a cool and dry area.
You can easily buy garlic from the stores for cooking. This same garlic can be used for planting in your backyard. Growing garlic will be fun and easy to do. Just follow the steps and tips we have lined up for you.