Grow your own garlic? Why would anyone want to grow garlic when it’s right there at the store? There are more reasons than you might think.
It might surprise you that they treat garlic with chemicals to keep it from sprouting? Do you know what those chemicals do to your body? Me either. No thanks.
Most of the garlic available for purchase comes from China, about 80%. Some store-bought garlic comes from California and other countries. Garlic from China is bleached and treated with many toxins for pesticide, fungicide, and growth-inhibiting purposes.
In addition, agriculture practices in China include fertilizing crops with raw sewage. We’re taking fresh humanure folks. Human feces. These practices are not allowed in food production in the U.S. but when food is imported, it is unknown how it is cultivated.
The bottom line is, growing your own food ensures your health and safety. You can grow a year’s supply of garlic every year and know where your garlic is coming from. Click here to see more about garlic from China.
You can grow your own garlic in pots or other containers easily as well as in the ground. It’s one of the easiest crops to grow. You plant it in the fall and it grows throughout the winter and spring. In Oklahoma, we plant garlic in September or October. That is for zone 7.
To grow your own garlic, you need a head of garlic that is not from the produce aisle of your store. Store-bought garlic is treated with growth inhibitors to keep it from sprouting. That will prohibit you from having garlicy success.
What does a garlic plant look like?
Once you buy your seed garlic, you can just save garlic from that crop to use as seed the next year. I have only bought garlic seed once in 9 seasons and we are still growing it.
There is great organic seed garlic available here grown on a garlic farm up north. Or you can get garlic my little sprouts have grown and saved here on our Etsy site where we sell a few things to fund our preschool garden.
How long does it take to grow garlic?
When you grow garlic, plant it in the fall and harvest it in the late spring or early summer. It takes about 8 months to produce a nice head. You can harvest it earlier if you like and eat it smaller. If you harvest it late, you risk letting it rot in the ground.
How do you know garlic is ready to harvest?
Garlic is ready to harvest when the bottom three outer leaves have turned brown. Just keep an eye out when you see the very bottom one start to brown and you’ll see the next one and then number three. That’s the time to harvest your garlic crop.
When to harvest garlic scapes
If you are growing hard neck garlic, you can harvest the scapes and use them in recipes. Either way, you’ll need to cut them off before they flower because the garlic heads won’t grow as large or as flavorful if you let them bloom. As soon as the scapes, or hard stems in the middle of the leaves, start to come up from the clove, you can harvest and use them. The sooner the better.
How to harvest garlic
When you grow your own garlic and it’s ready to harvest, all you need to do is loosen up the soil around the heads. You can use a potato fork or shovel to carefully loosen the soil under the heads and then gently work them up through the soil by holding onto the top leaves.
How to grow garlic from seed
Garlic, especially hard neck garlic will put off small seeds on the top of the neck. They actually look similar to a clove but are much smaller. They smell and taste like garlic. You can harvest these and use them or plant them for even more garlic crop.
When to plant garlic by zone
Zones 0-3 (if no permafrost): Plant garlic in early to late September. Garlic can grow well in cold climates including some parts of Alaska.
Zone 3-5: Plant garlic in late September to early October.
Zones 5-7: Plant in mid to late October.
Zones 7-9: Plant in late October into November.
Zones 9-10: Plant from late October into December. Make sure to select garlic types (like softnecks) that need less cold vernalization to develop bulbs.
How to store garlic long term
The storage life of garlic can vary depending on the variety and conditions it was grown in. I have had no problems using my garlic year-round and having good seed to start again with in the fall.
There are two types of garlic, hard neck and soft neck. This refers to the main stem that grows up through the garlic. Hard neck garlic produces a flower from the hard stem that grows up through the plant. If you want your garlic to grow nice and robust, you have to remove those stems (scapes) and not let the flower produce.
Soft neck garlic such as is shown here, stores a lot longer than the hard neck varieties. You can store it in a mesh bag or open basket after the stems and roots have been removed.
Another way to store your homegrown garlic is to braid the tops into a braid and hang it up. That’s how I prefer to store mine. I think it’s a beautiful work of art as well as a great way to keep it throughout the year. I hang multiple braids in my pantry and bring one out into the kitchen when the last one is used up.
Another tip when you grow your own garlic is to save the largest heads for planting. If you save the larger cloves for planting every year, you will get bigger cloves from your harvest. I love bigger cloves as the smaller ones are harder to peel and use.
How to grow elephant garlic
Elephant garlic grows just the same way as other garlics, you start with a bulb of it. The only difference is it grows larger, tastes less strong of garlic flavor, more oniony, and it doesn’t store as long. It’s great fun to grow and impressive when you see the huge heads come out of the ground. It can grow even bigger than a baseball some years.
If you have thought about growing your own garlic at home, I would totally suggest you do it as soon as fall arrives. It’s so much fun and really easy to do. I love the feeling of knowing the food I feed my kids and my family is safe and deliciously full of flavor.
Try to grow your own garlic and let me know how it goes!
More garlic information:
If you are a beginner and need help getting started gardening, click here.
For more how to grow articles click here: 5 Secrets to growing great tomatoes, how to grow potatoes, how to grow sweet potatoes, how to grow carrots, how to grow radishes, how to grow lavender. Or click on the gardening category above for even more things to grow and tips for growing them.
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