Did you know that garlic is the most consumed vegetable in the world? Well I thought you should know. Garlic is a species in the onions family and Oh yes;it’s the most consumed in the world. It originated in Asia and Northern Iran and it has been used for centuries as a domestic remedy for minor infections such as cold and flu. That’s besides its intense flavor that has been used as seasoning to add taste to food.
How to plant garlic
Garlic is typically grown from cloves and sometimes from bulbils which are offspring’s of the original plant. It requires asmall parcel of land to growand should be planted in an area that has never had garlics or any other onions before. The area should be dry to avoid potential diseases found in humidareas that could cause garlic to rot.
Growing your own garlic should be easy and may benefit you in many ways rather than having to visit a grocery every time you are in need. Below is a procedure on how to deep plant garlic.
- Ensure that the land is fertile with well drained soils.
- Avoid fresh manure from the animals because fresh manure can be contaminated with diseases which can be transferred to the garlic.
- Make sure you have selected an area that has adequate sunlight exposure for your plants.
- Plant the cloves with the sharp point facing upwards; two to three inches deep and spaced about five to six inches apart.
- The cloves later sprout producing monocot roots.Bulbs develop as the garlic grows.
- If you are planting garlic seeds, break the clove off from the bulb. Each clovelater multiplies in the garden forming a new plant containing six to eleven cloves or more.
- If you are planning to plant frombulbils, separate the bulbils from the original plant and plant it direct on to the garden.
- Make sure to water the plant often and fertilize occasionally during the growing season.
- Some garlic do well in cool climate but generally warm environment, you canplant several varieties in order to identify which garlic fits in your environment.
- Always protect the shallow roots of the garlic during the winter season.
Different types of garlic
There are three groups of garlic; softneck,hardneckand elephant.
Softneck garlic produces many small cloves about fifteen to twenty cloves per head and lasts longer. Hardneck neck garlic produces fewer butlarger cloves although the cloves peel easily making it hardto last longer than the softneck variety.
The third type of garlic is mostly not a true garlicbut is closely related. It has large cloves which vary from yellow to cream in color.
Importance of deep planting garlic
Compared to other onions, planting garlic is theeasiest and least expensive to plant.Plantingis done by digging holes, about two inches deep, andplacing the cloves at the bottom. Finish by covering the cloves with the soil in each individual hole.
Planting garlic deep helps protect the plant against minor injuries that may be brought about by people walkingaround the farm and stepping on the seedlings. It also helps control weeds, pests and uncontrolled drainage.This practice ensures firm growth of the plant.
Best season to grow garlic
Garlics do well when planted during fall season because at this time they are able to produce bigger bulbs.Sowing during the fall will allow for establishment of the seedling before the onset of the cold seasonwhich slows their growth. When spring sets in, the crops then continue to growbecause of the warm conditions.
Does garlic require fertilizer?
Absolutely yes, garlic requires fertilizers. In fact it feeds heavy and does well with an adequate level of pure fertilizer. Soil testing is of high importance and should be done prior to plantation. This would help one determine the nutrients present in the garden and whether they are sufficient for the plants. The way you fertilize your garlic will have a great impact on the expected output.
Always ensure that at least every week your garlic receivesat least an inch of drip water. Sprinkling method is not recommended. Drip irrigation also saves on water.
Use fertilizers with nitrogen contentinstead complete mixed fertilizer. Note when leaves turn yellow, reduce the amount of water availed to the crop.
When to harvest garlic
Under optimum conditions, garlicshould take eight tonine months to mature. Harvesting is best done when the garlic is mature;harvesting any sooneraffects the size of cloves that will be harvested.
To harvest, dig out the garlic out of the ground carefully to avoid cutting the cloves. You must notuproot. Harvesting should be done when leaves begin to separate from the bulb or when they are yellow in color.
Avoid washing the head of the garlic after harvesting. Carefully remove the upper bulb cover.
Expose the garlic to sunlight for few weeks for drying.
How to store garlic
After harvest, store garlic in a dry place with room temperature conditions between thirty fiveto forty degrees Celsius. Storage conditions may differ fromvariety to variety.
Make sure the garlic is well dried prior to storage. Ensure to remove all the soil from the garlic but do not wash until the stems are dry. Do not store where there is access to direct sunlight because it may change the taste of the garlic.
You can braid the garlics in a row and hang them in your kitchen where there is bright light.This is one method of storage that has been used for a long time.
There should be proper circulation of air where garlic is stored. You can use containers that allow for air circulation.
You can also freeze chopped and minced garlic in the fridge which makes them last longer though thismightinterferewith the taste of the garlicor if stored while peeled it might cause them to sprout.
When is garlic not edible?
Consuming bad garlic can cause serious bacterial infection. Just like any vegetable, garlic is highly perishable. Proper storage can keep your garlic fresh. Moths are known to attack harvested garlic by causing bites into the cloves whichdecreasesthe quality and shelf life. Unpeeled garlic can last longer compared to peeled ones. Peeled garliccan be stored in a fridge.
Look out for your garlic to make sure that it does not start to form sprouts or changes its color fromwhite to brown or has green roots. This would make it change in taste and spoil the whole garlic. Touch to feel if it’s soft or hard, if you notice that it’s soft then don’t even think of chopping it, it’s already spoilt. Also be sensitive with the smell, if your garlic has a bad odor or you notice that it has a sour scent it means that it is not legible for your consumption. Garlic has a unique scent and spicy smell that can be recognized when it’s fresh and when the original smell is lost then it’s spoiled.
Health Benefit of a garlic
Garlic is valued not only for good tastes and aroma but also appreciated globally for its healthy body benefits because it contains vitamins and minerals which are sources of nutrition required by the human body. These benefits are as;
Garlic acts as anti inflammatory and is good for the liver.
It reduces hypertension and lowers blood sugar.
It works as a herbal remedy to heal wounds
It eases cold and flu providing relief to the body, drinking a hot garlic tea can help unblock a stuffed nose and strengthen your body immunity.
It prevents heart disease and also helps in lowering cholesterol level.
It helps prevent stomach cancer.
It purifies the blood making one to have a glowing skin by clearing pimples, protecting the skin from fungal infection and eczema.
It is used as an antibiotic to treat fungal and bacterial infection.
Garlic aids in boosting digestion and eases constipation.
Garlic helps in eye health because it is rich in selenium and vitamin c.
It controls asthma, one can control asthma attack by consuming boiled cloves however it is important for one to consult an expert before trying out any remedy.
It is used as a remedy for weight loss.
It is also used for reduction of urinary tract infection and kidney infection.
Garlic is also said to relieve ear ache when taken raw.
The importance of growing this exotic crop at one’s home garden and using them as food cannot be over emphasized. A little effort to grow garlic for instance could go a long way adding an edge to one’s diet; one’s health is assured when this crop garnishes your meals. Plus an extra buck can be added to your pocket if you sell this crop. Needless to say, it can fetch a handsome return seeing that not many people grow garlic or can grow it.