How to grow your own garlic
It's almost time to start planting bulbs for a gorgeous show of spring flowers, but there's another bulb that not many gardeners think about, yet it's relatively easy to grow and provides you with a fresh, home grown supply that's healthy and a must-have ingredient for many recicpes.
Dating back to the early Egyptians, garlic bulbs were discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
A member of the onion family, garlic is one of the most commonly used flavouring ingredients. Fresh garlic is harvested and dried to produce the bulbs that are available all year round. Garlic bulbs consist of several individual cloves, which are wrapped in fine papery skin. An individual clove, when planted, will reproduce an entire bulb after about nine months.
Garlic contains a wide range of trace minerals. These include copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, germanium, and especially selenium. In addition, garlic contains many sulphur compounds, vitamins A and C, fibre, and various amino acids. Studies show garlic to be beneficial in fighting heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other illnesses.
How to grow garlic
Accoding to Living Seeds, China is the world’s leading exporter of garlic with over 75% of the world’s production coming out of China. Most garlic on the shelves in imported from China, to be imported into South Africa this garlic needs to be irradiated this is to ensure that no live soil borne pathogens are carried into the country.
The process of killing off any potential soil borne pathogens also destroys the viability of the garlic you have bought. They supply you with top quality garlic cloves that will grow and produce stunning garlic for your own consumption.
How to grow your own garlic
The planting season for garlic is from March to May, before it gets too cold.
- To start off the process with healthy bulbs, buy organic garlic from a nursery, garden centre or online supplier. If not already done, break the head up into separate cloves
- Choose a nice sunny spot and make sure the soil has been nicely dug over to allow bulbs to develop properly. Use a stick or trowel handle to create 2 centimetres deep holes that are spaced 10 to 15 centimetres apart. Gently plant the individual cloves on their 'backs' so that the pointy tips face upwards.
- For optimum growth, keep the area free of weeds and water regularly. As with any bulb, garlic doesn't like to be left dry. A layer of mulch over the planted area will help to retain moisture. Don't overwater as the bulbs will rot if left standing in water.
- Use an organic fertiliser throughout the growing season and deadhead any flowers as they appear for healthy bulb growth.
- The bulbs are harvested as the foliage dies down and your garlic will be ready to be harvested 8 to 9 months after planting. Do your digging up in the later afternoon and gently dig them out before hanging them in a cool, well-ventilated area for a couple of weeks.
TIP: Keep some bulbs for re-planting.