Did you know that you can regrow garlic? Most people don’t look at the paper-covered cloves and immediately think of lush, green plants. Fortunately, garlic sprouts (also known as scapes) are absolutely delicious, and easy to grow. Read on to learn how to grow them and use them in all kinds of delicious dishes.
- Yes, You Can Regrow Garlic
- Garlic Sprouts, Really?
- How Does it Work?
- How to Regrow Garlic
- Simple, Beautiful, Hygge
- Learn Everything About Garlic Sprouting
- Choose and Prepare the Best Cloves
- Garlic Sprouting in Water
- Garlic Sprouting in Soil
- Healthy Houseplants
- How to Grow Garlic in Water
- How To Regrow Garlic Chives: Growing Garlic Chives Without Soil
- How to Regrow Garlic Chives
- Can garlic grow without soil?
- What are the benefits of Garlic?
- Why should I grow my own? How does this benefit me and the environment?
- How easy is it to grow garlic indoors? Can they grow in a container?
- Are there different types of Garlic? Which one is best for me to grow?
- When is the best time to plant Garlic? When is the best time to harvest it?
- Simple Tips on How to Grow Your Own Garlic
- How to plant Garlic
- Growing and protecting from indoor pests
- Watering Garlic
- Mulching and Fertilizing Garlic
- Harvesting Garlic
- How to Grow Garlic Indoors
Yes, You Can Regrow Garlic
When I was young, our kitchen windowsill was lined with avocado pits in water. These were suspended in glasses, and sprouting in the bright sunlight. I thought it was magical: something only avocados could do. But I was wrong. It turns out you can sprout a lot of vegetable odds and ends! These days, my kitchen window shelf is a sprouting wonderland of kitchen scraps growing green in the sun.
We don’t sprout avocados, since I don’t have my mother’s bright plant room to house them in. Instead, I’ve found that smaller, hardier sprouting scraps are best for our little woodland kitchen. My favorites are garlic, scallions, and beets, but don’t be afraid to test the waters. There are so many options that can be regrown easily. Lettuce, bok choi, and fennel are just a few options, though fresh baby turnip greens are fabulous too.
We don’t sprout these pretty little kitchen friends for their roots: just for the stems. They look adorable all lined up along the window, and they taste delicious in recipes like biscuits and quiche.
Garlic Sprouts, Really?
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons
If you’ve never grown garlic, the idea of eating the slim, green stalk of a garlic plant can seem a bit strange. Are these sprouts even edible? Yes, they are! Garlic stalks are light, fresh, and well, quite garlicky in flavor. They taste like garlic chives, or like a milder version of garlic scapes.
If you’re in the middle of a late, northern spring, or gearing up for another long winter with a garden long gone to bed, regrow garlic and other sprouts for a breath of fresh air.
Green onion stalks and new beet greens may be shocking favorites as well. If you’re uncertain, just remember that the new growth of scallions is just a second round of life from the plant. For example beet greens taste very similar to Swiss chard.
Don’t be afraid to give them all a try. Let these new friends grow up alongside your little, green garlics and then toss them all into a stir-fry together!
How Does it Work?
Sprouting garlic, scallions, and beet greens is just like sprouting avocado pits! But may you’re not used to seeing rows of plant parts suspended in water on your window ledge. Regrowing these can feel a little intimidating at first, so let me give you a little guidance.
First and foremost, re-growing any kind of vegetable or herb should involve fresh water. Change the water your plant is sitting in at least once a week to keep it fresh. You can also add a small amount of rooting hormone to the water if you want your windowsill plants to continue growing.
In fact, this is a great option for you to try, especially for vegetables you want to transplant into soil after a month or so on the counter.
All you need to get started is a clear glass jar or cup, fresh water, and a sprout-able vegetable. I’ll give a walk- through of my favorites here, but don’t let me limit you. You’ll notice the how-to part is very similar with each plant. Once you get used to growing one type, figuring out the others will be a piece of cake.
Did you know that green onions are amazingly pretty when they sprout? Well, they are! After you’ve chopped up the leafy stalk of the scallion, just pop the root in a clear jar of water. Don’t let the water cover the entire bulb, though: leave a bit sticking up into the air. Plants need to breathe too!
If you need to, you can poke the scallion bulb with toothpicks, and rest those on the edge of the jar to hold the bulb up out of the water. It’s usually not necessary though, especially if you’re sprouting more than on onion. I like to cluster a few—not too tightly—into a jar.
They look gorgeous in the sunlight, and these bulbs support each other. Quite a few can share a jar, just remember to change the water twice a week. Stick three to five in a little jam-jar and let them grow together in the sunlight.
Within a couple of weeks, your scallions should be tall enough to harvest. Just chop off some of the fresh, green tops and leave your bulbs in the water for a new crop of leaves.
I like throwing these tasty tips into frittatas and quiches. They have a light, green, onion flavor that adds a tangy freshness to dishes. They’re also great on top of creamy potato soups, or as a garnish with yogurt on homemade curry!
Whether you’re slicing up beets for roasting, pickling, or adding to smoothies, save the top 1/8 to 1/4 of the root and the greens together. Place this part, cut side down in a shallow dish of water. I like using a low, wide little condiment dish. If you’re sprouting from a larger beet, you may need something larger, like a brandy snifter!
Keep in mind that low, shallow dishes can’t hold a lot of water. As such, keep an eye on the level and refresh the water as needed. Change the water completely every few days so your beet doesn’t drink up water that’s less than fresh.
Harvest the beet greens as they grow, but make sure you leave a few behind each time you harvest. Your little counter-top beet won’t produce greens forever, but it will last for up to three months with care!
These tender, young beet greens are ideal in smoothies and soups. Even better, beets are known for their countless heart-healthy properties. The root and greens are great for reducing high blood pressure, and the greens themselves are high in iron and vitamin A. Top a salad with baby beet greens or toss them in right at the end of a stir fry for an extra boost of flavor as well as nutrition.
How to Regrow Garlic
The technique to regrow garlic is a little bit different from those mentioned above. First and foremost, you can’t grow bulbs in the water like you can with scallions or turnips. What you can grow are garlic stems.
Sprouting garlic in water is rather like sprouting an avocado. Since you can’t immerse the bulb, you’ll have to use toothpicks to balance your clove so it’s only slightly immersed in the water. Submerge the root end, and don’t let the water reach higher than halfway up the glove.
Personally, I like to use mini jam jars for sprouting garlic. Possibly because I have so many of them! Try to select cloves that already have a tiny sprout of green peeking out. These will sprout more quickly, and they’ve already proven that they’re healthy and capable of new growth.
Poke just a bit of a toothpick into the side of your clove—just enough to convince it to stay in place. Once you have three toothpicks in place, evenly spaced around the clove, rest the “spokes” on the edge of the jar.
Your clove is now balancing in the water! In two to three days, you’ll notice the green sprout starting to grow taller. After about a week, it should have grown enough that you can start snipping off segments to use. The mild flavor of sprouted garlic is delicious in homemade potato salad. My favorite use, however, is in garlic-cheddar biscuits.
Recipe: Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits
Mix up 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and a half-cup of grated, sharp cheddar cheese. Cut in 6 tablespoons of butter until the butter is about the size of small pebbles. Then, toss in about 1/4 cup of minced garlic stalks. Pour in about 2/3 of a cup of milk, and mix until everything is just combined.
Roll out your biscuit dough and cut it into rounds, hearts, or other fun shapes. You can also just drop small scoops of dough on a sheet for craggy, hearty-looking biscuits.
Bake these at 450 for about 12-15 minutes. At this point, you should see the cheese turning a beautiful, rich golden brown. When they’re done, eat them while they’re still hot. These biscuits pair well with pastured eggs in the morning, or tomato soup on rainy nights.
Simple, Beautiful, Hygge
Nothing embodies the essence of a happy, hygge kitchen like plants growing in the sunlight. Furthermore, few plants are easier to grow, or more immediately rewarding than the sprouted ends of your favorite vegetables! Whether you have acres of garden right outside the door, or you’re building your cozy haven in a studio apartment, re-growing is a joy.
You can’t regrow garlic forever, but you’re almost guaranteed a few months of regular harvests. Just keep the water fresh and the sunlight streaming in. Then, harvest those sprouts as garnish for hearty soups, delicious frittatas, and more!
Learn Everything About Garlic Sprouting
Photo by Yun Huang Yong licensed under CC BY 2.0.
And, it is at a point where you can plant it to grow more garlic indoors or outdoors. Once garlic has reached the sprouting stage, it’s perfect for planting indoors in a small container by a sunny window. In doing so, you’re skipping the beginning stages of the growth process, but your garlic can still grow, given the right conditions.
Some people like to purposely partake in garlic sprouting so they can grow just the sprouts to eat. They are often used in cooking for a mild garlic flavor, or eaten raw in salads, dips, or as a garnish. You can grow garlic sprouts in soil as you would to grow garlic bulbs, or in a cup with some water.
Choose and Prepare the Best Cloves
The best cloves for garlic sprouting and growing are those that are large, have most of their wrappers on, and have the brown blunt end intact. If your cloves have already sprouted, be extra careful with them, as they are likely to have some of their wrappers already off from the sprouts coming through.
To separate the cloves, gently push on the top of the garlic bulb until the cloves begin to separate. Then you should be able to gently pull them from the garlic stem, taking care to leave as much wrappers in place as you can.
>> Buy Garlic bulbs for planting on Amazon <<
Examine each clove for signs of possible disease or mold. Look for brown or soft spots, holes, cuts, or cracks. These should be discarded. Small cloves should be used for cooking rather than planting if you want to also use the reproduced bulbs. If you’re only growing garlic for the sprouts, the clove size doesn’t matter.
Garlic Sprouting in Water
If you want to grow garlic only for the sprouts, you can sprout garlic cloves in water. This can also be a good way to get your sprouts starting quickly for later planting within soil.
To sprout garlic in water, you’ll need a small, clear cup so you can see how your garlic cloves look and will easily be able to tell when your water is dirty and should be changed.
Add a small amount of water to the cup, just enough to cover the base of your cloves. You do not want to get the full cloves wet, or they’ll become useless as they’ll rot. Then, place the garlic cloves into the cup so just the bases of the cloves touch the water. You can place enough cloves to fill the cup, if their bases can touch the water.
Keep your cup in a window with plenty of sunshine. Change its water whenever it begins to look dirty or cloudy. Once they start growing a root system, you can move them into soil if you’d like to continue to grow garlic.
If you’re only sprouting garlic, you can trim the sprouts for use once they’ve grown about three inches long.
Garlic Sprouting in Soil
You can also sprout garlic cloves in soil, which will also lead to a healthy garlic bulb to use in cooking or to plant later. You can grow garlic in a small container in your home so you have easy access to sprouts when you need them. Make sure your container drains well and can hold the number of cloves you’d like to plant with at least two to three inches between them.
This video from MejiaGarden is an interesting time-lapse of garlic sprouting from soil in someone’s indoor containers:
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How to Grow Garlic in Water
Garlic is a flowering bulb that requires plenty of nutrients to grow and form good cloves. In the soil, you provide those nutrients with lots of aged manure, rotted leaves or a balanced organic fertilizer. For plants in a glass of water, the bulb itself will provide the nutrition. In hydroponic systems, you either use the commercial solutions available or a solution of organic fertilizers and water.
Hydroponics, or hydroculture, offers a way to grow plants without soil. The garlic cloves are placed in a rack or suspended in inert mediums like perlite or gravel. Below the racks or medium is a nutrient solution into which the plant roots grow. Hydroponic systems can be set up in a greenhouse or – with the proper kind of lighting – any indoor room.
Systems and Nutrients
A number of commercial hydroponic systems are available and there are also instructions to build your own. You can also create your own nutrient solutions with the following organic materials (be warned, they may clog systems):
- Blood, hoof, horn or fish meal
- Ashes from bones
- Powdered kelp, seaweed and minerals
- Animal and poultry manures
The Odor Issue
One disadvantage of growing garlic in a hydroponic system is the distinct odor of the plants. If you grow in a greenhouse or garage, that might not be a major problem, but in other indoor locations, the odor can be significant. If your only option is something like a spare bedroom, be prepared to open windows frequently or use other means to combat the smell of the garlic plants.
Garlic on the Windowsill
A clove of garlic placed in water will sprout. This method is similar to the practice of forcing flowering bulbs (which is what garlic is) indoors. Small glasses like shot glasses work well. Put enough water in the glass to come halfway up the side of the clove. Change water daily. Place in a sunny windowsill and harvest when green shoots are several inches tall. Discard cloves after harvest.
Growing Garlic Hydroponically
Most garlic (hardneck especially) grows better if exposed to cold temperatures prior to sprout. Vernalize your cloves in a refrigerator for six to eight weeks. Plant just below the surface of the hydroponic medium with pointed ends up. Space cloves four inches apart. Garlic will grow best with 10 to 12 hours of light; don’t leave lights on 24 hours a day. Harvest cloves when they reach the desired size.
How To Regrow Garlic Chives: Growing Garlic Chives Without Soil
There are a number of reasons to grow your own produce. Maybe you want to have control of how your food is grown, organically, with no chemicals. Or maybe you find it less expensive to grow your own fruits and veggies. Even if you have a metaphorical black thumb, the following article fulfills all three topics. How about regrowing garlic chives? Growing garlic chives in water without soil really couldn’t be easier. Read on to find out how to regrow garlic chives.
How to Regrow Garlic Chives
Growing garlic chives in water couldn’t be simpler. Simply take an unpeeled garlic clove and plunk it in a shallow glass or dish. Cover the clove partially with water. Don’t submerge the entire clove or it will rot.
If you select organically grown garlic, then you will be regrowing organic garlic chives. This can save you a bunch of money since organics can be pricey.
Also, if you happen upon an old bit of garlic, often the cloves have begun to sprout. Don’t throw them out. Put them in a bit of water as above and, in no time, you will have delicious garlic scapes. Roots will be seen growing in a few days and shoots soon thereafter. Growing garlic chives without soil is that easy!
Once green stems have formed, you can use the garlic chives. Just snip the green ends as needed to add to eggs, as a tasty garnish, or in anything you want a kick of mild garlic flavor.
How Garlic Reproduces
Although it is a flowering bulb, garlic’s reproductive processes are more like that of a potato. The plant forms a bulb composed of multiple cloves, each of which can be used to grow a new plant. You can also plant sprouted garlic heads or the tiny bulbs (bulbils) that hardneck garlic produces at the top of its flower stalk. All of these methods produce a plant with the same genetic makeup as the original.
Choosing Garlic Varieties
You can use either hardneck or softneck garlic for cloves or sprouting. Only hardneck produces bulbils and, on rare occasions, seeds. Try these varieties:
- Inchelium Red – softneck grown by Native Americans.
- Spanish Roja – hardneck heirloom from the Northwest.
- Music – a heavy producing hardneck.
- Siskiyou Purple – a softneck often grown in hot areas.
Grow Sprouting Garlic
Garlic that is stored in moist conditions (like a refrigerator) may begin to sprout. It’s easy to separate the sprouting cloves and plant them. Dig a trench about three inches deep and place the clove in the trench with the sprouts pointing upward. Fill the trench with soil. Manage and harvest the garlic just as you would if it had been planted from cloves.
Grow Garlic From Cloves
Cloves are the standard method to regrow garlic from the original plant. Separate the cloves. Don’t remove the papery husks. Most garlic evolved in cold climates and hardneck garlic in particular will do better planted in fall. Plant the cloves three to six inches deep – deeper in areas with severe winters. In desert areas, you should plant both kinds of garlic in fall. Mulch well with straw to cool the soil.
Grow Garlic From Bulbils
Garlic rarely produces seeds. Instead, it grows small bulbs called bulbils, on its flower head. Bulbils, which range in size from a grain of rice to the size of a chickpea or garbanzo bean, are essentially another form of clove. They can be planted and will grow a garlic with a single bulb. They must be harvested and replanted for two or three years before they will actually develop a full head of cloves.
Can garlic grow without soil?
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Growing garlic can be the best health decision you can make – it is one of the best natural supplements for your immune system, and is a breeze to grow indoors and outdoors. You can even grow hydroponic garlic with the right setup.
One of the great benefits of growing garlic yourself is having a neverending supply of natural organic garlic at your disposal. This is especially helpful during those cold, wet winter months when you are more likely to get sick, and less likely to want to go out shopping.
What are the benefits of Garlic?
Garlic has many natural benefits – photo by Patrick Brentano
Garlic is a vegetable from the Allium family. Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6, as well as other vitamins and minerals including Manganese, Selenium, vitamin C and Allicin (an anti-oxidant).
Eating garlic regularly may help reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as have cancer preventing properties. Garlic as a flavour enhancer is definitely a healthier alternative than salt. Consuming raw fresh garlic is highly considered for fighting off infections, which may include the common cold.
Why should I grow my own? How does this benefit me and the environment?
The benefit of growing your own garlic is control – you know where your garlic is being grown and what it is being fed. Garlic is in demand all year round, and as a result is a fairly costly vegetable. If the garlic cannot be grown locally (usually during the off-season) it will be imported from overseas, often increasing the price. Commercial growers, unless they are formally recognized as Organic farmers, are likely to use harmful pesticides to protect their precious crops, and laws regarding the use of these chemicals may vary greatly from country to country. Shipping imported food also generates greenhouse gases from the burning of fuel to fly or ship the produce to your local supermarket. All of these substances eventually end up in your food and in your body, so by growing your own garlic not only are you potentially saving money, but you are saving your health and the health of your environment as well.
How easy is it to grow garlic indoors? Can they grow in a container?
Garlic grows in small bulbs, therefore you don’t have the size restrictions you may face with tree or vine based produce like tomatoes or apples making it ideal for growing indoors. Planting in a garden with the correct soil does tend to produce the best yields, but you can definitely grow a good crop of garlic in a container garden or a raised garden bed. Growing your garlic indoors also protects your garlic crop from pests like onion thrips and root maggots.
I can’t emphasize how much garlic loves sunlight, so growing your crop in a window sill planter is a great space saving option.
Hydroponic Garlic: How to grow Garlic without Soil
Yes you can even grow garlic without using soil. Garlic shoots can be planted in water instead of soil, but to grow to full maturity it is easier to replant the shoots in soil so they can absorb all the nutrients they need.
It is possible to grow garlic purely in water, and many successful harvests can come from using a hydroponic gardening system. These systems are great for growing indoors, as you can control the flow and nutrients in the water (which is also acting as the soil) as well as the sunlight with artificial UV lights. Garlic can be a bit tricky though if you’re a hydroponics amateur – as it naturally prefers well – drained soil, and its leaves and roots grow quite long. The leaves can get plenty of sunlight as they grow upwards towards the light, whilst the roots may not get enough and start to rot.
Garlic chives are actually one of the most popular plants to grow in a hydroponic garden, as they require a lot more water than regular garlic to grow. If you just want to grow enough to add a bit of green garnish to your cooking, chives may be an easy alternative. Simply Hydro have a great tutorial on growing hydroponic chives here.
Are there different types of Garlic? Which one is best for me to grow?
There are many different types of Garlic available in the world – and the best type will usually be the one that grows the most locally to you. In North America, there are two common types:
Hardneck Garlics get their name because they grow a Scape (a hard long stem which grows a flower at the end) through the centre of the garlic bulb. The flower at the end of the Scape can be cut off and re-planted to grow more Garlic. A bulb of Hardneck Garlic typically has between 4-12 cloves of garlic, depending on the species. These cloves are usually an even shape and size. The Scape is edible as well.
Inside a hardneck garlic bulb a Scape will grow down the centre – photo by Mother Earth News
Hardneck garlic scapes in the garden – photo by Anonymous Bosch
Hardneck Garlic grows better in colder climates, with the scapes blooming in early summer. There are roughly three different sub-species of this kind of garlic – Rocambole, Purple Skin and Porcelain. Within these categories you can find Spanish Rojas, German Reds and Whites – Hardneck Garlic is considered by garlic aficionados to have a richer, spicier and more “garlicky taste.
Spanish Rojas are a common Hardneck Garlic – photo by Urban Farmer
The softneck variety of Garlic, as the name suggests, doesn’t grow a Scape. This type of garlic is normally grown in warmer areas with more mild winters. If you want to create some beautiful garlic braids, this is the variety for you. Softneck bulbs have a higher yield of cloves, but they may not be consistent in shape and size.
Softneck garlic has no Scape – photo by Mother Earth News
Their skin is usually softer and harder to peel than hardneck garlic, but can be delicious to cool and consume whole, for example in roast or a barbeque. Silverskins , Artichokes and Creole garlics are examples of the soft neck types.
Artichoke garlic is a Softneck garlic – photo by Log House Plants
When is the best time to plant Garlic? When is the best time to harvest it?
Garlic is usually planted in the Autumn or Fall, and harvested in the Midsummer. You can usually start harvesting the Scapes in early summer. Once you have harvested the bulb, you will need to be replant, as you will have harvested the whole plant.
Simple Tips on How to Grow Your Own Garlic
Garlic can easily be grown indoors with the right setup, here is a simple breakdown of the steps you need to follow to make it happen:
Pick the right spot
Once you have selected the type of garlic you wish to grow, the next step is to pick the best spot in your home to grow your garlic. Garlic loves sunlight, therefore growing garlic indoors works best if you can grow it on a windowsill. If this isn’t possible, try to pick the room which gets the most natural light. During the winter months when the light is least plentiful you may want to consider setting up indoor UV grow lights inside your home to help the growing process.
As I mentioned before in this article, not all garlic grows best in the same climate. Therefore you will need to find a space that keeps a consistent temperature which is appropriate for your plants.
How to grow garlic in a container
The best containers for growing garlic should around 12 inches deep to make space for the root of the garlic, and allow your plants to sit approximately 6-8 inches apart. Make sure that the top of the container is nice and open to allow plenty of sunlight to come in. High humidity is not required for growing garlic, so a greenhouse cover is not required.
Proper drainage is important as well, to prevent your garlic from getting Fusarium or other root rotting diseases. Pick a container with plenty of drainage holes and remember to regularly tip out the drainage tray if required. You can select a plastic tray or ceramic pot for growing similar to this as the material will not effect the growth of your garlic ( but it might affect the look of your home).
Select the right soil
Well drained fertile soil with a neutral pH is the best kind for growing garlic. Most garlics prefer soil with a neutral pH reading from about 6.5 -7. If your soil is more acidic, you can make it more alkaline it by mixing in a small amount of wood ashes. Use a mature compost to add fertility to your soil when planting, and add organic mulch like hay or torn up leaves as a top layer.
How to plant Garlic
You can plant garlic from a seed, or from a clove. Planting from a clove is perhaps less labor intensive, and is the easier way to re-plant after your first harvest. Garlic is a clever plant, each generation of plant adapts slightly better to the environment it is grown in, so your bulbs and yield improve with each harvest. Wait right up until you are ready to plant before you start peeling your cloves.
Plant with the pointy end upwards- photo by Preppers Resources
The soil you are planting into should already be mixed in well with approximately 1 inch of mature compost in order to create an inviting environment for your garlic to start growing. Push the cloves into the soil about 4 inches deep and 8 inches apart and cover with organic mulch. The cloves should be planted in the soil the same way up as they sit in the bulb – with the pointy end at the top, an the flat end (where the roots come out) at the bottom.
Growing and protecting from indoor pests
As I mentioned previously, like all plants garlic has it’s own set of predators and diseases which may affect your plant’s growth. The most common pests are Garlic Thrips, which are tiny bugs which make a small puncture in your garlic bulb to suck out the sap or juice of the bulb. This can weaken the plant and stunt its growth, as well as potentially passing bacteria from the pest to the garlic.
You can spot a Thrip infestation by looking at the leaves of your garlic – if they look scarred or discoloured you may have a pest problem. If you are looking for a natural pest control solution, you can try out this natural pest spray recipe here, which contains chilli, and would you believe, garlic cloves, as it’s active ingredient.
Garlic can suffer at the roots as well, from garlic maggots which can start breeding after a few harvests, or soil related diseases like Fusarium. Keeping well drained soil can help prevent both of these nasties, and a sprinkle of Diatomaceous Earth can help kill pests and create a drier environment for your plant to flourish.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth can help get rid of pests.
Weeds are an annoyance for any plant owner, and however they can be easily dug out in a small container. Just make sure to be delicate with your digging fork, as you don’t want to damage the roots of your garlic plants.
Garlic plants prefer a fairly dry environment, but they will require a light misting of water from time to time, perhaps once a week but not much more. Keep an eye on your soil which should remain fairly dry, this will assist you in deciding if it is time to water. You can use a spray bottle to provide a light mist, or a garden hose on low pressure. You should stop watering your garlic a few weeks before it is time to harvest.
Mulching and Fertilizing Garlic
As I have mentioned previously, a nice layer of mulch on top of your soil will provide protection from the elements, retain moisture and maintain a good growing temperature for your plants. You can create your own mulch from items such as leaves and worm casings.
Garlic bulbs washed but not clipped – photo by Rmxx Gmdr
If you planted in the fall, your garlic should be ready to go in early – mid summer. Your garlic is ready to harvest when about a third of leaves have begun to go brown and wither, and the soil is dry. Loosen up the soil with your hands or digging fork, and gently pull the plants up out of the soil. Being gentle is important as you don’t want to bruise or damage the young garlics’ delicate skin.
Re – planting and curing garlic
Once you harvest your garlic plant, you can either cook and eat it straight away, re – plant or cure it. Curing is the process of drying the garlic for long term storage, so you can use it later or keep the bulbs for re-planting in the following fall season. Curing your garlic ensures that the energy and minerals from the leaves move into the bulbs as they dry.
To cure your garlic, once you have harvested lay your plants out in open to dry in a warm airy spot with shelter from the rain and direct sunlight. Young garlic bulbs, are surprisingly susceptible to sunburn. Leave the plants here to dry for about a week, then dust off all the excess soil and clip the roots to about an inch long. Do not wash your bulbs as the point is to dry them out. Leave them to dry for at least another week, sometimes a month if the weather is quite humid before clipping off the leaves or braiding them ( braiding is only for softneck varieties). Make sure not to remove the leaves whilst curing, as the bulbs draw away energy and nutrients from the leaves as part of the curing process, gradually drying them out. The leaves also protect the bulb from fungi and other bacteria during the process.
To finish, dust off the excess soil, and trim the leaves and roots to approx. ¼ to a ½ inch long. Peel off the excess skin until you are left with beautiful pure white (or red) bulbs. The largest and best looking bulbs should be kept aside for re-planting next years garlic!
Braiding Garlic – photo by BC Living
Once you have finished all your curing, you can store your garlic in a number of ways. If you have planted softneck garlic, you can braid your garlic bulbs together and hang it up in your kitchen homestead style. If you would prefer something a bit less labor intensive, you can simply keep your bulbs in hanging mesh bags until you are ready to use them. Mesh bags are nice and soft and prevent bruising the delicate skin of your fresh home grown garlic. They are also nice and breathable, to keep your garlic dry and prevent unwanted mold and sprouting.
How to Grow Garlic Indoors
Let’s start by saying this: You can grow garlic indoors, but you won’t get a head of garlic as you would when you plant cloves in the garden. What you’ll get will be garlic sprouts or greens, the green tops of a bulb (much like what happens when a bulb sprouts on your kitchen counter). These greens are not the same as green garlic, which is early spring garlic or immature garlic bulbs and their edible green stalks. They are still quite delicious and can be used as seasoning or garnish. Their flavor is lighter and gentler than that of fresh garlic.
To grow garlic greens indoors: Plant three or four cloves in a pot filled with potting soil. Sit them on a sunny window ledge and water them lightly. The garlic greens will grow in just 7 to 10 days and can be snipped.
If you plan to have garlic greens on hand, you’ll need to keep up with planting new cloves in succession as the cloves will be exhausted once they have grown the greens.
To grow entire heads of garlic, you’ll need to plant outdoors because like other bulbs (think onions and daffodils), they need the cold winter dormancy to produce the scape (flower) and generate a head.
Read Our Garlic Growing Guide for More Information