The garlic plant requires small space to grow and produce bulbs. A member of the allium family it is used in many culinary, food, medical applications and good source of potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A.
They have good economic value and attract premium price. The business is practicable from home or dedicated plot. Commercial growers need a business plan, agricultural land, equipment and labor.
Things to Consider
Things to consider before starting the farm are type of garlic, soil quality and weather conditions. Other are nitrogen, sulphur rich fertilizer, mulching, watering. The soil should be properly irrigated, dry loose loamy soil. Management includes weeding, provision of organic matter, avoidance of freezing climatic conditions.
- type of garlic
- soil quality
- weather conditions
- sulphur rich fertilizer
- proper soil irrigated
- dry loose loamy soil
- use of organic matter
- avoidance of freezing conditions
How to Start a Garlic Farm
Pests and Diseases
Garlic like most plants are susceptible to pests and diseases. Common problems include white rot fungus, onion thrips and nematodes. White rot fungus causes root rot, yellow leaves and death of the crop.
Microscopic nematodes eat the crop causing irreversible damage and found in the surrounding soil. Onion thrips retard the growth, cause wilting and death of the plant. The thrips feed ravenously on leaves and drink the plants sap.
Garlic Pest, Diseases
- white rot fungus
- onion thrips
Varieties of Garlic
To grow garlic select a suitable, completely dry candidate. Ideal cloves are firm and plump so avoid those that are shriveled or soft. Other features to avoid are those that have green shoots, weak aroma or processed.
There are many varieties of garlic to choose. The two major categories are divided into hardneck, softneck garlic. The softneck has flexible stalk and entire bulb is covered by layered parchment and the sheath is papery.
The hardneck garlic does not have a flexible stalk. Common ones are the Porcelain, Rocambole and Purple Stripe. Others are Gesnok Red, Purple Star, Purple Striped and Polish.
Hardneck Rocambole are full bodied, easy peel, rich in taste, aroma. Porcelain are full flavored, have papery sheath, smooth with large cloves. Purple stripe is ideal for baking and has a distinctive purple streaks.
We have softneck garlic that includes the Artichoke, Silverskin garlic. They are adaptable and high yielding like the California Early, Polish Toch, Red Toch.
More are Applegate, Early Red Italian, California Late, Lorz Italian, Galiano. Silverskin garlic has a strong flavor while artichokes has large cloves, silvery skin and mild flavor.
There are two major categories of garlic the hardneck, softneck.
- Purple Stripe
- Gesnok Red
- Purple Star
- Purple Striped
- Polish Hardneck
- Silverskin garlic
- California Early
- Polish Toch
- Red Toch
- Early Red Italian
- California Late
- Lorz Italian
Garlic is propagated using the bulbils or cloves. Select those that are firm, diseases free, full flavored. Bulbils propagation is the most effective strategy than cloves. This is because they are many, free from rot or soil borne diseases. A successful farm can save 18% of the crop for planting.
Growing the Bulb
The best time to plant garlic is early spring. You can eat, preserve the smaller ones and choose the large garlic for planting. The preferred composition is loose loamy soil, manure and organic matter.
Before planting separate bulbs into cloves retain the papery layer on each clove. Protect from cold climate, moderate soil temperature through mulching. Retain soil moisture, remove competing weeds for better nourishment.
To plant dig a hole 3 inches for the cloves. Make sure the clove pointed tip is facing up, roots down. Space 5 inches apart in rows and 20 inches between rows.
Farmers sometimes remove the scape a curly green flower stalk of the hardneck garlic. This is to facilitate the growth of large bulbs. However growing from seeds require leaving the scape to grow. The scape is edible and a delicious part of the garlic plant.
To control the moisture content and temperature the farmer needs to mulch. There are a choice of mulching material to consider. Mulch with chopped leaves, plastic, reeds, hay, grass, straw or dead leaves.
- chopped leaves
- dead leaves
Make sure the soil is moist and water young plants regularly. However harvest period requires cessation of water for at least 2 to 3 weeks. At full maturity half of the lower leaves would die.
Harvest a few to test maturity and form. To avoid bruising or damage carefully pull up by hand or use a shovel to loosen the soil around the garlic. The harvested bulbs are then dried in a warm airy place and soil brushed off. The farmer has a choice of bulbils for future propagation.
Allow garlic cure before storage to preserve the lifespan. To cure, place in dark space for 2 to 3 weeks and provide adequate ventilation. The air in the storage facility should be well circulated for best results.
The storage temperature is from 35 to 49F, 68% humidity. In warm climate regions, garlic is dried and spreading on a sheet in the sun. Common practices is trimming hardneck garlic stems or braiding softneck garlic. In optimal conditions a cured garlic would keep at least nine months.