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We bring you all the information you need to know about growing, planting and harvesting garlic. It’s easy to grow it and in this article, we will show you how to grow garlic the right way.
Instead of buying some imported and not good quality garlic at the store, grow it better on your own. Besides being so sure of the quality, you also know that it is not full of various pesticides and other undesirable things.
Garlic is a plant from the Alliaceae family that includes leeks, onions, and chives. It can be bought in heads or tied in wreaths or bundles, and can also be found as an extract or powdered. Due to its aroma and taste, it is often classified as a herb instead of a vegetable. The garlic stalk can grow up to 40 inches in height and consists of several oblong and hollow leaves. A bulb or tuber consists of smaller cloves that themselves have their own wrapping sheets, as well as a complete bulb.
Although garlic is a known and very healthy vegetable with high nutritional value, it is consumed in smaller quantities because it has an intense taste and aroma. In large quantities, it contains water, then protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Of the vitamins, the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotene are the most prevalent. The minerals in garlic include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur and iron. The characteristic taste and aroma of garlic come from allicin, an essential oil that has antibiotic properties.
Garlic can be planted in spring or fall, in which case it overwinters in the soil in winter. Considering cultivar and ecological type it is divided into:
- Spring garlic – as its name implies, it is planted in spring and harvested in mid-summer. It has a longer standstill and can be stored until spring. Spring garlic varieties have thinner and narrower leaves, and their heads are smaller and have a larger number of cloves, which are also smaller. They are more sensitive to low temperatures, which is why they are planted in the spring.
- Autumn Garlic – Winter or autumn garlic hibernates in the soil and begins to develop in the spring. It has a shorter standstill and ripens in early summer. Autumn garlic varieties have wider and larger leaves. The head is also larger but has fewer cloves.
- Alternative garlic – similar to spring varieties but resistant to low temperatures and can be planted in the fall. If it is planted in the fall, its vegetation will be prolonged, causing it to have larger heads than if planted in the spring. Thus, it is possible to obtain higher yields.
Spring planting is done as soon as the weather permits, while in autumn the garlic is planted in the continental parts in mid-October and in the Mediterranean areas from late October to mid-November. There is also the possibility of earlier planting in autumn, more specifically in mid-September, during the growing season, that way it can develop more leaves and that the bulb can form in mid-summer.
The best pre-crops for garlic are peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage. Immediately after removing the pre-crops, soil cultivation or shallow plowing should be carried out. Three weeks before planting, the soil should be cut to a depth of 12 inches and potassium and phosphorus added. Beds are formed just before planting to avoid excessive moisture in the planting area, especially if there is a large amount of rainfall during the winter. It is best to make the joists on larger surfaces by machine. When cultivating the soil, care should be taken not to grind the surface layer too much, so that a large crust is not created later.
Healthy bulbs, of regular shape, are selected for planting and will serve as sowing material. It is best to plant outdoor cloves that have previously been stored in an airy room and at the optimum temperature. For autumn planting, this means about 59 °F, which drops to 41 °F just before planting. Cloves are separated just before planting.
For the cultivation of garlic, the best are dry and light soils with good structure. The soil should be neutral or slightly acidic, and what does not suit the garlic is the salty soil. Well-lit grounds should be selected for cultivation because this plant needs a lot of light to grow well.
Garlic is more resistant to winter than some other bulbs. It will grow best at temperatures between 64 and 72 °F, while the optimum maturation temperature is around 80 °F.
It is good to grow it behind cultures that were manured with crop manure because they leave behind a light soil, free from weeds. In basic tillage, medium fertile soils add 2000 pounds of NPK fertilizer 7:14:21, and when the plants develop three leaves, they are fed with KAN fertilizer in the amount of 90 – 134 lb/ac.
As mentioned earlier, garlic can be planted in spring or fall, or in March or October. Planting is usually done by hand, as this results in better germination and higher yield. Planting is done by rotating the cloves used as seedlings by rooting them downwards and thus pressing them into the ground. In the case of autumn garlic, the planting depth is up to 1.5 – 2 inches, and in spring 0.8 – 1.2 inches. After that, some more ground is piled up.
Garlic planting can also be done mechanically by planters, but in this case, germination will be less as the machines cannot turn each piece properly when planting, which greatly affects the later development of the plant.
The garlic is planted in rows 12 inches apart, while the distance between the cherries should be 4 – 4.7 inches.
Garlic cultivation and crop maintenance
Maintenance of garlic plantings includes irrigation, weeding and weed protection as well as nutrition and adequate protection against disease and pests. Weeds are most easily combated by manual weeding or herbicides, as mechanical weed removal measures in garlic crops are difficult to implement.
The storage is done in the spring, most often at the same time as the inter-row tillage. If a dry period prevails during cultivation, it would be good to irrigate the plantations. On lighter soils, about 0.14 inches of water is required and irrigation is interrupted three weeks before the garlic is harvested.
Garlic diseases and pests
In order to reduce the possibility of pests or disease development, garlic should not be planted after any plants from the same family. In addition, we can only grow it every 5 years. By following these rules, we can now effectively protect against roundworms and white mold.
Garlic seedlings can also be attacked by firebirds, which often occur on bulbous plants and cause their decay and decrease in yield. Late blight can also be prevented by observing crop rotation and planting healthy material.
The disease can also cause rust on the garlic plantation. It causes yellowish, round or elongated lumps on the leaves. The diseased leaves dry and fall off and the bulbs become finer. Rust is suppressed by the destruction of infected plants and plant debris, and by the use of fungicides that control suppressants and fungi.
Of the pests, caterpillars, onions moths and garlic flies can appear in garlic.
The garlic fly, or its larvae, attack young plants so that the damaged sites are susceptible to disease from various fungal diseases. Over time, the affected plants start to dry, the stem softens and stays empty, and the bulb does the same. Garlic flies are suppressed in the same way as onion flies – by insecticides applied before planting or by spraying at times when there is a risk of invasion.
Garlic harvesting and storage
Garlic is ready to harvest when it is softened by a false stem and when the entire aboveground section begins to lay down. Cloves have the most sugar at that time. Harvesting is done when one-third of the garlic leaves are still green. If the garlic is to be harvested by machinery, harvesting may begin earlier. Garlic leaves must be cut before mechanical harvesting.
Harvesting of autumn garlic takes place in late July and spring in August. It is important to harvest the garlic when the weather is dry and sunny and the soil is dried, especially if the garlic is extracted by lifters.
Autumn planting can produce a slightly higher yield than that of spring planting.
After extraction, the garlic is cleaned of leaves and is calibrated, and then left in an airy place where it will not be exposed to direct sunlight. During the extraction and processing, care must be taken at all times to ensure that the garlic heads do not strike excessively.
It is best to store garlic in net bags, in bulk or in pallets. It is stored at a temperature of 34 – 35 °F and at a relative humidity of 70 – 75%.
Garlic in the kitchen
Garlic is an indispensable food in our kitchens. It is especially often used in Mediterranean cuisine, where it is added to meat, fish, and vegetables. With garlic, every dish is more fragrant, tastier, and healthier.
It can be added to cooked, steamed or baked dishes, as well as spreads. The spreads can be added raw or pre-fried. It can be eaten raw on its own, but its aroma and taste are so intense that it does not suit many unless it is heat-treated. Raw can also be harder to digest.
One of the easiest ways to consume garlic is with bread. We can fry the garlic, add olive oil, butter or lard. It is also added to other spreads, such as mayonnaise or tartar, and various other traditional or some newer spreads.
Baking or cooking reduces the intensity of the taste and aroma of garlic. We can add it to stews, goulash, soups, rice and pasta dishes, and it is especially tasty when combined with olive oil. It can also be canned in oil and vinegar, which is characteristic of cuisines of the Far East, especially China and Thailand.
In our kitchen, garlic is an indispensable part of marinades, as well as various dried meat products, whether it is salami, sausages or something else. In continental cuisine, it is added to fresh cow’s cheese, herbs, peppers, and mushroom or meat dishes, while on the coast it is used for the preparation of fish, shrimps, shells and various pasta dishes.
Medicinal properties of garlic
Garlic contains adenosine, which prevents blood clots, which preserves the health of blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Sulfur and the amino acids contained in this plant reduce cholesterol levels, preventing many other diseases from occurring. In addition to reducing cholesterol, the consumption of garlic also affects the reduction of triglycerides, so it is recommended to eat it with oily foods.
Garlic is generally good for the health of blood vessels and because it prevents their narrowing, improves performance and maintains their elasticity. In addition, it helps to optimally supply the heart muscle with blood and is also great for lowering blood pressure.
Garlic stimulates kidney, liver, prostate, and digestion. Because it is a very effective natural antibiotic, its regular consumption can prevent, but also treat colds, flu, bronchitis and other lung diseases. It is effective in combating E. coli, but also with parasites such as earthworms. It works against some types of fungi and the herpes virus.
History of garlic
Garlic is native to Central Asia and has been used in human consumption for 5,000 years. Ancient Egyptians were the first to grow this plant and it has had a great impact on their culture throughout history. This can be seen by the garlic remains found in the tombs of Pharaoh. Namely, at that time, garlic was considered a sacred plant and a symbol of eternal life.
In addition to the Egyptians, it was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it for medical purposes, namely to strengthen blood and fight infections.
Today, the largest quantities of garlic are produced in China. It produces as much as 77% of the total garlic production, which is then distributed worldwide. In China, as in many other parts of the world, garlic is an important part of folk medicine.
Garlic has been credited with many powers throughout history in various cultures. Thus, it was believed to protect against supernatural beings such as demons, vampires, and werewolves, and the fight against vampires by means of garlic is still mentioned today in modern pop culture.