Modern Hollywood movies are promoting garlic as the weapon to fight vampires. Although it is highly unlikely that you will meet Count Dracula, a fresh batch of garlic will mean a lot in your kitchen. With the winter approaching, one must do everything to stay healthy.
Garlic will help you to stay healthier by boosting immunity system, and at the same time, it will give your meals an exquisite taste. How to grow garlic indoors is vital because of those reasons, and I’m here to provide you with the steps which must be fulfilled, to do it.
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Why Garlic In The First Place?
For thousands of years, the Chinese have been growing garlic for culinary use. Since it is present for so long, I’m inclined to believe that garlic is one of the reasons why the Chinese are so long-living nation. Of course, its impact on health is yet to be proven in some areas such as lowering the risk of stomach cancer. My mother used to say that “one cubic inch around garlic has no bacteria at all.”
Here are some facts to keep in mind while planning whether to plant garlic or not:
Which Variety To Choose?
There are two groups of garlic which need to be separated.
The first group is hardneck varieties. These varieties are more suitable for cold weather, and their color usually includes purple shades.
Also, their taste is stronger, so if you love garlic bread, there is no better kind than Ukrainian Chesnok Wight for this recipe.
Others worth mentioning are Lautrec Wight which is more subtle in taste, and Aquila Wight Red, an early variety which is best used for chicken and olive oil based recipes.
As you may guess, the second group is called softneck varieties. These are recognized by whiter bulbs consisted from more clovers smaller in size.
From these, I can recommend Iberian Wight which has purple parts and large bulb (these are seeded deeper than others, 2½ inch deep, Albigensian Wight, and Provence Wight with juicy bulbs perfect for Mediterranean touch in meals which include fish.
The bottom line is that it is your personal preference which are to be chosen. Since they will be grown indoors, you can select whichever variety suits you; in the end, you can take several, and see what happens. The only thing which truly matters is that bulbs are bought in the garden center. Those which are being sold in markets are usually treated with chemicals and often will not sprout at all.
What Will Be Needed?
Luckily, the tools which are necessary for successful garlic indoors growing are standard ones, without exotic or expensive pieces. All that is required, you either have in your tool shed already, or if you need to buy it, it means that you will need it sooner or later.
Still, to make things clear, here is the list:
How To Plan And Prepare?
Taking into consideration that garlic goes under those vegetables which have long growth cycle (some of them are harvested 8 to 10 months later) and that you may grow them in winter, sunlight is your greatest concern. December and January are months with the least sunlight, so if it is possible to avoid them, do so. If not, UV lamp might be of service, but again, I prefer natural source.
Therefore, if you wish to harvest garlic in let’s say, June, planting should be in October. Of course, this is just a guess, it varies from variety to variety (try saying that fast three times), but you get at least an evaluation.
So, Which Are The First Steps?
First of all, you will need flower pots. Those are so common that I feel as if I’m tripping over one every time I enter my garage, so nothing special needs to be noted. Of course, see that it is at least 8 inches deep and at least 4 inches wide, if you are planting one clover per pot.
As for the sills, the depth remains the same, as well as space; for optimum growth, garlic needs at least those 4 inches. If you are uncertain, leave more room; it is better to grab another sill than your harvest to let you down.
Of course, the pot must have an appropriate drainage hole. If it has more of such, the better. Similar to spring onions about which I have already written, garlic will develop too big bulbs, and the taste will be way too much diluted. Even worse, the bulb can rot, which will cause the harvest to fail.
Now, with pot secured, take that window net. I’m using it to get extra drainage which garlic loves, but paper towels can be used for the same purpose. Pad the interior of the container with window web, and cut the rest which goes over the top of the pot. I haven’t tucked the web strictly into corners of the pot, if some space remains, it is a good thing; it will leave more space for water to flow out.
How To Prepare The Soil?
Luckily, the soil requires just a tiny bit of attention. In case that potting soil which you have chosen is low quality one, there is a high probability that there will be seeds of plants or spores of fungi which can develop later and cause problems.
The same goes for sand; it can also contain seeds or microorganisms which can be harmful. To avoid this situation, make a mixture of soil and sand in 3:1 proportion, and mix it thoroughly. Now, spread this mixture in a shallow pan and bake in the oven at 200 degrees F about 15 minutes. This way the mix will be disinfected, and if any weed had survived, you can pluck it later.
With a mixture of sand and soil sterilized this way, fill the container up to about one inch from the top. I don’t like to pour more or less of it because too much soil can get dense and thick, while too much space left is making maintenance difficult.
Should I Grab The Bulb?
Before proceeding with sowing, there are few things which I need to address first. Have you noticed that garlic has thin, paper-like cover around the bulb? This outer layer is essential to keep, so when separating the cloves, take care not to peel off too much of this cover.
Next, under this layer, every clover has its protection. It is mandatory to leave this cover as well. It both feeds the plant while rotting away and keeps the moist inside the seed.
It may happen that sprouts are already appearing, but this won’t be the problem, so do not cast aside the bulb which has a few green leaves.
Now, as I said, it is needed to separate the bulb into cloves. Do so gently, without causing damage to clovers. Damaged ones won’t grow, but instead, rot and die. Each clover needs to be pushed into the soil with flat part downwards, and the spiky one pointing up. Gently push the clover into the soil to about 5 inches into the soil. If you wish, you can make a hole with a backside of the trowel and plant it inside.
It is my custom to water the vegetables in general, not just garlic right after planting and tap lightly on the top. This way the moist remains inside and will mean a lot for kickstarting of germination. Also, before watering, you could apply neutral 10-10-10 fertilizer. Add just small quantity, to help the clover sprout and to build strength early on.
How To Take Care About Garlic?
This is the point when you must step in. The conditions are different in every house, so you must monitor them closely. Assuming that you have provided enough sunlight, watering cycle may differ. However, I can tell you to keep it watered lightly, and not to overdo it. Dry soil is equally wrong, so don’t go this way either.
Ultimately, if you are uncertain, you can always buy pH soil test kit to keep those numbers checked and under control.
After a few weeks (again, depends on the variety), first green leaves will appear. This is usually the sign that garlic is progressing nicely. If left, these greens will develop into flowers, and since I didn’t want to take the strength from the bulbs, I have cut them off about an inch above the ground.
Next few months were more or less the same. Watering as necessary, fertilizing every couple of weeks and cutting off the green part as they appeared. Speaking of care, Liquid Organic Fertilizers have proven to be very well-balanced and not to cause any burns, so that would be my recommendation.
Is It Harvesting Time Already?
As I said, after 8-10 months is usually the period when you can plan for harvesting. But, better than my recommendation is the color of the leaves above the ground. Similar to onions, upper parts of the garlic will turn brown and will wither when the time for harvesting approaches.
The best way to harvest garlic is to pull it from the soil and leave it for some time to dries out. Of course, if you intend to use it right away, feel free to do so. Just keep in mind that this taste you are feeling now, and which you haven’t sensed before in garlic is a touch of success.
What To Look After?
Luckily, garlic is one tough plant. It is almost like Batman among other plants. It is resistant to frost and majority of pests, and it is often paired with others to keep the pests away. Also, like Batman, you can’t scare him off. Unfortunately, there are a few Jokers for this Batman; not everyone fears the bad breath.
Thrips and onion maggots are the most common ones, but since the soil was disinfected at the beginning, there shouldn’t be many problems. If they appear, however, you can always use any organic way from this article to get rid of them.
At The End
So, now you know how to grow garlic indoors. Also, this article has taught you (I hope so) the importance of good drainage and that harvesting is a matter of opportunity, rather than a deadline.
Also, I have to point out that these Liquid Organic Fertilizers proved to be far the best solution when it comes to garlic, so make sure to check them out!