Garlic is invaluable in cooking and extremely easy to grow in the kitchen garden. Know when and how to plant garlic to increase your harvest.
Fall is historically the best time in many regions to grow garlic. It is a safe rule of thumb not to plant garlic until late September, after the autumn equinox. Like onions, garlic is prone to the duration of the day and develops best throughout the lengthiest days of summer. Fall planting gives us a jump in the growing season, and next year, one of the first plants to sprout up in the garden.
Garlic is relatively simple to grow, but if you want to develop the best and largest bulbs, careful soil preparation is required. They require fertile soil with a pH of 6.4-6.8, which is intensely cultivated, well-drained. Until planting, apply 2-3 cm of compost and well-rotted manure to the field.
Choose premium garlic seeds and plant a few different varieties just in case one is doing poorly. Separate the cloves no earlier than 48 hours to keep them from drying out before planting. The biggest cloves are to produce the largest bulbs. Plant single garlic cloves with the peel intact, end pointy, 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.
Apply 6-8 inches thick mulch or straw (without seeds). Your garlic should form roots before the ground freezes, but little to no top growth.
Soon next spring, the garlic will be able to grow, sprouting up tiny green shoots as quickly as the ground thaws.
Keep the soil’s moisture up but not to wet after planting and during the growing season. The roots will grow again in the spring after the ground thaws from winter. Watering will begin again in the spring. Reduce water near maturity as bulbs.
Encourage the soil to dry just 3 to 4 weeks before harvest as this will enhance the taste of the garlic.
Apply well-aged compost or a retail organic gardening blend to the gardening beds twice a year. Mist-spray garlic leaves with fish emulsion or kelp extract every two weeks.
Side dress plants with the minimal treatment of a blood meal. Start feeding the garlic that has been in the garden through the winter in the spring when the days start to lengthen.
Heavy formulations of nitrogen-rich fertilizers can reduce the flavor of garlic bulbs; use a 5-10-10 mixture if you are applying fertilizer.
Try to maintain gardens weed-free—mulch plants with aged compost to stop weeds and feed plants. Pinch off the flower whenever you grow hard-necked garlic in an attempt to center a plant on bulb development instead of leaves.
In early summer, flowers may surface. Mulch planting beds extensively with the straw or hay until a sharp first frost while garlic remains in the garden throughout the winter.
If the stems start yellowing, bend the stems to the ground without damaging them; this is called lodging and encourages the development of bulbs. Resist planting garlic where it has grown recently with onions or mushrooms.
Harvest bulbs around 2 to 3 weeks after lodging when the tops tend to dry and turn brown. At harvest time, about 75 percent of the highest growth should be brown. Lift one or two bulbs and break them apart to find out if they are ready for harvest.
It is too early if the bulbs are unsegmented and hard to divide. Come back in one or two weeks. Ripe garlic bulbs should pull off the stems easily. The skins of bulbs are thick, dry and papery right for harvest. The skins of the bulbs that stay in the ground too long will relax and worsen; they will be smaller and will not be well preserved.
Harvesting is easier a little early than too late. Lift garlic bulbs with a garden belt to prevent bruising or to damage the skin. Allow bulbs to dry 3-4 weeks after harvest in an airy place until the outer surfaces feel like thin paper. Save the biggest bulbs next season to replant.
Many societies around the world have used garlic as a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal treatment. Once the garlic is mixed with mineral oil and soap, it is a highly effective pest control product.
Nevertheless, when sprayed, it is not a selective insecticide. This solution can be used to combat cabbage worms, leafhoppers, squash bugs, whiteflies, but it also affects beneficial insects, so be cautious where and when this substance is used.
Allow the garlic to soak in mineral oil for 24 hours. Add the dish soap and the water. Stir well and strain to put in a glass container. This will be your concentrate.
For use: mix 1-2 teaspoons of concentrate in 1 pint of water to produce a mist. Be careful not to make the solution too powerful. While garlic is safe for humans, when combined with oil & soap, it can cause leaf injury to sensitive plants. Always test the lower leaves of the plants first to make sure they are not affected.
Note: DO NOT PUT ON SKIN
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