Garlic is pretty easy to grow and care for, so it is the perfect plant to grow if you are new to gardening. It can also be grown easily in containers so you don´t even need a garden. All you need is a Pot, the right kind of Soil, some garlic or seeds, and some fertilizer. So if you want to grow your own garlic at home, then read on. I will tell you everything, that you need to know!
So for growing Garlic, you will need a container, ideally a terracotta pot, that is about 18 inches deep and at least 12 inches wide with drainage holes on the bottom. The best Soil for Garlic is well-draining silty loam. Plant the Cloves around 4-6 inches deep in the soil with the “pointy” end facing upwards.
|The best soil for growing Garlic||Well-draining silty loam, which is rich in Nitrogen and has sufficient Phosphorus.|
|What Soil pH is best for Garlic||Between 6 and 7.5 is the perfect pH for growing garlic.|
|The best pot for growing Garlic||A terracotta pot that is at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches wide.|
|The Ideal Fertilizer for Garlic||The ideal Fertilizer for Garlic is Nitrogen-rich.|
|How often should Garlic be fertilized||Every 2 to 4 months.|
|How long does it take to Grow Garlic||It will take about 9 months until Garlic is fully grown and ready for harvesting.|
Why Should I Grow Garlic in a Pot?
Firstly it is a great space saver. If you live in an urban area and don’t have access to a reasonably sized plot of land that you can cultivate, then growing in containers is an excellent substitute.
You can even keep your containers in a concrete yard behind your house for example.
This method can be useful if you are renting your property and you don’t want to invest the time and money to dig up the lawn and replace it with productive food beds (or your landlord won’t let you!).
You can move your containers around to catch periods of sunlight giving you flexibility. Also if you have to move house you can take them with you.
Garlic takes a good 8 to 9 months to grow.
If you are growing it in a pot or container you can free up any bed space you do have for other quicker crops that you can plant in succession throughout the growing season which will greatly add to the efficiency of your garden.
A major advantage of growing your garlic in a container is that weeds are much less of a problem and if any appear they are no problem to control.
This makes it easier to care for your garlic crop throughout the growing cycle and will save you work in the long run.
What Kind Of Container Or Pot Should You Use?
You can use pretty much any type of container that you have available as long as it is large enough.
The best container for growing Garlic, however, should be at least 18 inches deep, and at least 12 inches wide. The Pot should have draining holes at the bottom to avoid water lodging and the ideal material for the container is terracotta.
This will enable you to plant a ring of garlic cloves around the edge and get a great crop in a very small space. Of course, you can use larger containers as well!
The ideal container is a large terracotta pot. This drains well and also absorbs the warmth of the sunlight boosting your garlic’s growth.
It is important, however, that you check the container has holes in the bottom of it. This will allow water to drain out and stop it from getting waterlogged.
If the container does not already have holes in the bottom you can make some holes using an electric screwdriver.
If you are drilling holes in your container be careful to secure it tightly to avoid injury. It is essential that your container has holes in the bottom otherwise the garlic is likely to rot.
What Kind Of Soil Is The Best For Growing Garlic?
To get the best results when growing garlic you need to pay attention to the type of soil you use. If the right soil conditions aren´t met, then your garlic could have a hard time growing to its fullest potential.
So for Garlic the best soil, that will let it grow to its full potential in a well-draining silty loam. The Soil should be rich in Nitrogen and it should have good amounts of Potassium in it. Potassium is especially important in the beginning as it will help the Garlic plant to build healthy leaves.
If you do not use a well-draining soil type then your garlic is very likely to rot and you won’t get any harvest at all!
Silty Loam refers to the soil which is a mixture of sandy silt and clay. The clay element of the soil will retain plenty of water for your garlic’s roots however without the sandy silt element it will not drain well enough.
The silt part of the composition is high in minerals which will help your bulbs to grow large and plump. This combination is the perfect balance for your garlic.
Do I Need To Add Compost To The Soil?
Yes, you will need to add good rich compost to the soil.
Ideally, you should do this several times during its growing period. At a minimum, you should add a thick layer of at least 2 to 4 inches of compost to the top of your container immediately after you have planted your garlic bulbs.
This will further decompose as the garlic grows to release nutrients that will feed the roots.
Do I Need To Add Fertilizer?
Garlic needs a lot of nitrogen to grow successful so as well as the compost you have added as a top layer to your soil you should also regularly top up the nutrient content of your containers with a liquid fertilizer
You have two main options when it comes to fertilizing your garlic. You can choose to use pre-made synthetic fertilizers from your local garden store or you can make your own at home.
Synthetic fertilizers should be added from the beginning. Choose a Fertilizer, that is high in nitrogen. The Fertilizer should be worked in about 3 to 4 inches from the plant.
Around 2-4 months in you should fertilize your garlic again, this is because around this time the bulbs will start building and the plant will need more nitrogen to build healthy big bulbs, that you will harvest later on.
If you want to use a more organic fertilizer then you can make it at home. It will take some time though.
To do this you need to collect up some kitchen scraps and grass cuttings (high in nitrogen). Put these into an empty container or bucket that has a lid you can seal.
Fill the container to about 3/4 full with your kitchen scraps and grass cuttings then fill up the whole container with water.
Put the lid on and leave it to sit for a few months. This will produce a black liquid which is a fantastic organic liquid fertilizer, known among gardeners as ‘black gold’ because it is such a precious resource!
Then you simply water some of this over your garlic to fertilize it as it grows.
How And When Do You Plant Garlic?
Once you have prepared your container with good soil then you are ready to plant your garlic.
Garlic grows bulbs from individual cloves.
You need to plant these cloves around 4-6 inches deep in your soil in little holes you have made for them. Prepare the holes with a dibber or using a small trowel.
It’s important that you plant the cloves with the ‘pointy’ end facing upwards since the root system grows out of the flatter bottom half of the clove while the green stem grows up out of the ‘pointy’ end.
You want to plant your garlic cloves leaving at least 4 inches space in the soil between them so they have enough room to grow.
You need to plant your garlic during the autumn months. Make your preparations in advance and be ready to plant in September.
The garlic will sit under the soil over the winter and you will see the first signs of growth above the soil between January and March.
What Do You Need To Do Over Winter?
Over the winter you don’t need to do very much however you can make it more comfortable for the garlic by providing it with a layer of mulch.
This will stop the garlic being affected by heavy frosts or snow but also as it breaks down nutrients will leach down into the soil.
An ideal mulch to use is straw. Make sure the straw is free from seeds to avoid contamination by weeds.
Simply put a thick layer of straw (about 6 inches) on the top of the soil after you’ve planted your garlic and give it a good watering.
How Often Do You Need To Water Garlic?
Garlic requires a lot of nitrogen to thrive but it also needs a fair amount of water.
Over the winter, if your garlic is outside, then you shouldn’t need to worry about watering it all.
But as the spring starts to warm up you will need to begin regular watering.
Ideally, you should water your garlic 2 to 3 times per week from the end of April onward. If there is a heatwave or an especially hot time between the end of spring and the harvest then you should water it daily.
However, in the final weeks before you harvest your garlic you should stop watering it altogether. So that means in most cases you should stop watering from the beginning of June.
How Do You Know When It’s Ready To Harvest?
You will know that your garlic is ready to harvest when the green stems and leaves start to turn yellow.
The garlic should be ready for you to harvest in June or July depending on the conditions in spring. Keep an eye on them and wait for the leaves to start to die back. It’s better to harvest a little late than too early.
You can also check their progress as it comes up to harvest time by careful pushing back the soil with your finger around the base of the stem to see if the bulb is fully developed, but again, as difficult as it is, patience is really the key here!
What Varieties Of Garlic Grow Best In Containers.
There are many different varieties of garlic but some grow better than others in containers.
The two main types of garlic which are best suited to container growing are called ‘Hardneck’ and ‘Softneck’ garlic.
The ‘Hardneck’ variety has a strong woody center around where the clove grows. This is the most pest-resistant and is probably your best choice for container growing.
Alternatively, you can choose a ‘Softneck’ variety. This is the type of garlic that you will usually see in your local store. This will also grow well in containers but might not be so reliable as the ‘Hardneck’ varieties.
You can, of course, plant a mixture of varieties which is the safest way to grow especially if it’s your first season.
When it comes time to harvest then compare the results and you will have a better idea of what works for you in your local conditions.
Also, keep a lookout for local heirloom varieties. There are some very special types around and it’s always good to support local heirloom breeders.
What Pests Do You Need To Look Out For And How To Deal With Them.
Garlic is a very hardy plant and actually helps to deter many common garden pests due to the fact it produces natural fungicides and pesticides.
In fact, pests such as the common aphid are kept away by garlic!
There are however still some pests which will damage your garlic crop. You may have problems with mites eating away at the bulbs under the soil and roots.
However, if you are growing in a container then this is not likely as this usually only happens if you grow garlic in the same soil for several years in a row.
If you want to be safe you can use commercially made pesticides to ensure that your crop is secure but that’s entirely up to. If you decide that you want to then you can pick up a good pesticide from your local garden store.
This is all you need to know to start growing garlic in containers. It’s an enjoyable process and freshly homegrown garlic really does taste better than what you can get in the store.
Garlic is a very versatile ingredient and adds great flavor to many favorite dishes so you’ll always find a great use for your homegrown garlic.
Drying And Preserving Garlic.
If you want to store your garlic for longer without it going moldy then you will need to dry it in order to help preserve it.
This is a simple process that will take 2 to 4 weeks. If you have larger bulbs then the process may take a little longer.
To dry your garlic (also known as uring’) you will need to pick the whole plant, so keep the stem, bulb, and roots together.
Give the plants a good brushing off with a soft brush or by hand to remove as much of the dirt as you can. Alternatively, you can give them a rinse in water and then lightly dry them off.
You will then need to tie them into bunches that can be hung up together. Find a warm and airy place in your house, such as an under-stairs cupboard, and hang the bunches up on a rack if you have one or if you need to improvise you could use a wire coat hanger!
Leave them in place for 2 to 4 weeks and they should be dried. By doing this it will allow you to store your garlic for many months, and depending on how much you grew it could last you most the next year until your next garlic crop is ready to harvest!