We keep hearing all the time about how we should look inwards more than outwards when it comes to staying healthy and that out kitchens are stocked with natural substances that keep disease at bay for the most part. It turns out that one of the most powerful of these natural substances happens to be garlic. This is by no means something that we have just discovered recently, our ancestors were well aware of this “magic herb” and used it for myriad purposes with tremendous effect. With this little article here, I hope to get you to start including garlic in generous amounts in your diets again. I will show you 7 simple steps on how to grow garlic at home. Yes, it is possible!
Just a short list of what garlic can do for you before we move on to the crux of the article:
- Garlic lowers blood pressure
- It thins your blood and prevents clots
- It could reduce bad cholesterol
- It could prevent certain types of cancers
- It is incredibly effective against common ailments such as cold, flu, toothaches, etc.
- It is vital for good skin and hair health
Etc etc etc. Clearly, there is more to it than the commonly used it-causes-bad-breath line. This list is just the tip of the iceberg, but it should do to convince you to grow garlic at home!
Here is a glimpse at the 7 simple steps to grow garlic at home.
1. Ascertain The Best Time To Plant Garlic In Your Region
Garlic is quite versatile in that it can grow in a variety of conditions: areas with high heat, places with considerable rain, etc. It is up to you to ascertain what the ideal time to grow garlic is wherever you are located. Just ensure that there is enough sun because garlic does require a lot of sun. As a rule of the thumb, August and September are safe bets.
2. Pick Your Spot And Get The Soil Ready
After careful consideration and deliberation, choose a planting spot for the garlic. Have a soil test done to ascertain the makeup of the soil. I cannot emphasize this enough. A lot of people just add nutrients to the soil without knowing what is already there! Once this is done, make use of manure and compost to add nutrients to the soil. You will require fertile and loose soil for best results, so ensure that you loosen the soil properly with a digging fork.
3. Softneck vs Hardneck:What should you go for?
Decide on a variety. The softneck variety has a neck that stays soft after harvest, as the name alludes to. If you reside in warmer climates, then you are likely better off with this variety. On the other hand, the hardneck variety grows a ring of cloves around a stem. It is not as suitable for braiding as soft necks are and it does not have a shelf life as long. What it does have going for it is it's more complex flavors despite being milder. If you decide to plant a softneck variety, you may want to go for ‘California Late White’. If you opt for a hardneck variety instead, then perhaps you should try out the ‘Spanish Roja.’
4. Plant the cloves
Break the cloves from the garlic head in a judicious manner. Go for the bigger ones first. Ensure spacing between the cloves of about 5 to 6 inches. Push the cloves about 2 inches deep into the soil. Cover this with compost, manure and dry leaves. Fertilize the cloves and water it so that it does not get dried up. Depending on whether you plant in the spring or fall, fertilize it a second time.
5. Harvest the garlic
You will notice green stalks as the garlic begins to grow. Pull a few of these off (but not all). Ensure that you are ready to harvest when it is time. The leaves turning yellow/brown is usually a good indicator that it is time to harvest, as is being able to feel individual cloves in the bulb. Take a garden fork and very carefully pry the plants lose before pulling them out. Please exercise the utmost care while doing this or all your efforts could end up in vain. Move the garlic plants to a well-ventilated location that is protected from sunlight and rain.
6. Cure and clean the heads
You should keep the plants complete and unwashed. It is vital that they are hung up to “cure” for about 15 days. The ideal temperature for this is about 80°F. Avoid washing the garlic as it may lead to rotting.
7. Store the garlic properly
The garlic has to be kept away from the sun in a cool and dry place. Making a braid would be convenient (the softneck variety works best for this purpose). Remove and use individual cloves as needed.
So, there you have it! If you have been wondering about how to grow garlic, then this is it. Go ahead and grow a garlic plant. It will be one of the best life choices you make, trust me!