Garlic is a perennial herb grown for its culinary and medicinal applications. Common in traditional medicine it is cultivated year round. The plant grows 3 to 4 feet in height, has green leaves and produces bulbs.
The plant requires well drained soil, have long growing seasons and good shelf-life. It is possible to grow them in containers provided they have appropriate soil, sun and water. Preferred potted soil should have good organic matter and regular water supply.
Garlic has many species such as hardneck, softneck garlic. Types of softneck garlic are silver rose, Picard wright and germidour.
Others are wright cristo, siciliano, viola francese and nootkaa rose. Softneck have layered cloves, prefer mild climate and produces 35 to 40 cloves per bulb. They don’t have flower scape are hardy and store for long periods.
Tips to Growing in Container
Purchase the garlic bulbs from reputable organic farmer or farmer market. Mulch heavily in freezing conditions and provide adequate sun, humus rich soil. Grow them in a large container, provide partial shade and introduce companion plants.
Common companion plants are lettuce, rose, strawberry and beet-root. Fertilize twice a month and harvest when top leaves turn yellow or brownish. Use a well-drained potted mix and rich organic matter.
Water regularly at least every 6-8 hours. It is best to use nitrogen based fertilizer and soil ph. should be from 6.5 to 7.0
Propagation is done through seeds or bulbs. The seeds are collected from dried flowers and they are small and black. To propagate from seed they should be refrigerated for one month before the sowing process.
The outcome from seed propagation is undetermined and unstable. Growing from cloves is easier with good results. Avoid sourcing the raw material from grocery stores and use organic garlic procured from farmers in your area.
Growing in Containers
It is possible to grow garlic from seed. However the process is not recommended, tedious with uncertain results. They also take longer time to germinate.
To grow them in container you can use the cloves. This will result in fast growth and table ready in about 5-6 months. Avoid using Grocery store garlic because they are treated to prevent sprouting.
Purchase your cloves from organic farmers in your area. You can also buy the organic garlic from farmers market or greenhouses and select well-formed cloves with large bulbs.
To growing prepare a slightly damp mix and dig 5 inches with 3 inch space between each clove. Hold the clove upside down and insert. The next step is to cover the potted mix loosely and refrain from tamping the soil.
Make sure the container is placed in a location to receive a minim of 7-8 hours sun. Make sure you keep the soil moist but not wet.
The container of choice should be at least 20 inches deep and 12 inches wide. This is because garlic has shallow roots system.
Ideal containers are wooden crate, reusable buckets. Others are wooden crates, clay pots, large plastic and wooden containers.
- Wooden crate
- Reusable buckets
- Wooden crates
- Clay pots
- Large plastic
- Wooden containers
Make sure the soil drains easily and rich in organic matter. To grow in container use good quality soil-less potting mix. The potting mix should contain vermiculite, perlite, compost and peat moss.
Mulching and Fertilizer
Mulching is important for good growth and development. However apply liquid fertilizer when the shoot grows 17cm high. Mulching regulates soil temperature and prevents weeding.
Fertilizer is not necessary for garlic production. Instead use earthworm casting, bone meal and potting mix. Other things to increase nutritional soil value are compost tea, worm juice used twice a month.
During cold climate cover soil with thick layer of straw. In spring remove the straw and use only liquid fertilizer and cut scapes to promote growth of garlic bulb. The best location for your potted plant is warm area with adequate sunlight.
It requires about 7 hour’s sunlight daily. Best locations are gardens, window sills, balcony or green house. Water regularly, provide sun and avoid waterlogging.
Harvesting from your container depends on when it was planted. Best seasons are autumn and spring. The visual indicators to harvesting are when the tops fall or turn yellow.
Try to determine the wrapper quality and bulb size before harvesting. Once establish stop watering the plant and wait for 4 days. You can use a spade to carefully lift the bulb to prevent damage.
Then carefully brush off any soil residue that attaches to the bulb. Farmers allow the bulbs cure for two weeks at a designated airy spot. This will encourage hardening of crown and easy separation.
The next step is to remove any dirt or leaves and store. Make sure the storage facility is dark, dry and cool. They have longevity and can stay for several months. Older ones are known to have rich flavor and deal for different meals.
Pests and Diseases
They are hardened and highly resistant to pests and diseases. Common pests are onion trips, rust, pink rot, purple blotch and downy mildew.
- Onion trips
- Pink rot
- Purple blotch
- Downy mildew