Garlic is a superfood – you should add it to your diet because of numerous health and medicinal benefits that this herb has to offer. In addition to that, garlic can keep vegetables and fruits planted nearby clear of pests and diseases due to its smell.
Garlic has been used for medicinal purpose for centuries. It has been part of cuisine traditionally and now scientists are finding possibilities of proving that regular garlic consumption can lower high blood pressure and clean up toxins from intestines. Growing your own organic garlic is definitely an idea worth working. Let’s get down to it and learn how to grow your own garlic.
What Kind of Garlic to Grow
As an allium, garlic is closely related to onions and other members of the lily family. But instead of producing one underground bulb, this perennial produces a cluster of 10 or more small bulbs called cloves. Each one of these cloves, when set out in the garden, will produce an eight- to 24-inch-tall stalk with a lavender flower head and an underground cluster of cloves. A new plant grows from one of these cloves, and you can start your own using garlic right from a grocery store’s produce section.
Garden suppliers may give you a choice between early-maturing (90 days) white or Mexican varieties and late-maturing (110 days) pink or Italian cultivars. The white types produce higher yields than the pinks but don’t store as well.
Planting and Growing Garlic
When it comes to planting the garlic, choosing a good soil is important. Pick soil with plenty of organic matter and choose a fertile site. The pH should be above 5.5 but below 6.8 for growing perfect garlic.
It must also be sunny. Garlic needs cool temperatures during its early stages of growth and is not harmed by frost or light freezing. Later, however, warm weather and plenty of sun are required for good bulb development.
Once planted, the crop requires very little care except for weeding, which should be done by hand to prevent damage to the roots. Again, a mulch will reduce weed growth and will help conserve the moisture that is essential in the early stages of growth. Water if dry conditions prevail, and—except for rocambole—remove flower heads to produce larger bulbs.
Pests and Diseases to Watch For
Unlike other plants in your garden, garlic will rarely have pests or disease problems. The only problem that you could face with garlic is root maggots and onion thrips. Onion thrips puncture plant cells and therefore creates silvery areas by developing blotches. The plant will eventually collapse. On the other hand, root maggots will feed on stem and damage plant growth consequently.
The best control method for both these insects is to rotate your allium crops so they are not grown in the same place more than once every four to six years. Spacing garlic throughout the garden will also keep any invading pests from traveling from plant to plant. Adding sand or wood ashes to the top layer of the planting rows is another preventive measure. If thrips are common in your area, eliminate their winter homes by destroying weeds around the garden in the fall.
The only disease that occasionally attacks garlic is downy mildew, which can be seen best in the morning while dew is still on the leaves. Its first symptoms take the form of yellow or grayish, sunken, water-soaked spots, and it too can be prevented by crop rotation.
Read HOW TO HARVEST AND STORE GARLIC on the next page.