Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. It is a member of the onion family. Widely used as a flavor in cooking, alternatively garlic can be eaten raw and proven to have multiple health benefits.
It has a rich source of Manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. Garlic has long been proven to boost the immune system by prevent or reducing the severity of common illnesses such as the flu and cold. There are further medical studies that also prove that garlic reduces blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels.
Sowing garlic is easy and rewarding experience. By growing your own garlic you will be eating fresh organic produce that hasn't been imported. Garlic is propagated by planting the individual cloves in the ground.
Here's a step by step guide for sowing garlic:
Step 1: Prepare soil for planting
Garlic grows best in loose, well drained soil. Typically a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is ideal for growing garlic. Garlic needs plenty of nitrogen, adding organic fertilizers such as manure is ideal. So turn over your soil to aerate it, add your fertilizer, I recommend using horse manure and a slight amount of blood and bone meal.
Step 2: Sowing the garlic
Split the garlic bulb into cloves, plant the garlic in a sunny, well drained spot with spacing about 10-12cm. Plant cloves approximately 5cm deep with root (flat part of the clove) facing down
Step 3: Water
Water well and fertilizer throughout. Grass clippings lightly sprinkled following sowing to maintain moisture in the soil and reduce the potential for weeds to grow.
Garlic suffers from very few pests or diseases. Some of the common problems associated with growing garlic are (but not limited to) White Rot, Nematodes and Thrips. The symptoms of White Rot cause yellowing and eventual die back of leaves which leads to fungal growth at the bulb base. Nematodes live and reproduce inside the garlic plant eating parts of the stems, leaves and bulbs. Subsequently, this will lead to stunted growth and a poorly established root system. Thrips suck the leaf sap leading to discolored and distorted tissue that slow growth and bulb production.
Garlic is typically harvested from 17 to 25 weeks from sowing. The leaves will typically turn brown, and the flower stems (if present) will begin to soften. One bulb can be inspected by removing the soil around it while looking for clearly defined cloves and bulbs should be full size. Any bulbs that have split are still fine to eat but won't be able to be stored for long.
Allow garlic to dry by hanging in a dark and dry room for approximately one week. Once dry, remove all leaves and stems leaving a remaining length of approximately 2cm from the bulb. Do not wash off dirt or separate cloves as this reduces the life of the clove. Store bulbs in any way that allows air circulation around each bulb at room temperature away from direct sunlight.