Gardening

How to plant garlic

Allium sativum

Garlic is a plant that can reach from 30 cm to 120 cm in height, and which forms a bulb that contains several segments, usually called “garlic cloves”. These can be eaten either raw or cooked or roasted, being generally used as a seasoning or condiment in several types of culinary dishes due to their outstanding flavor. Although less used, young leaves, scapes (flower stems), flowers, bulbs that appear with flowers and seeds can also be consumed.

Widely used for medicinal purposes, some studies indicate that regular consumption of garlic offers cardiovascular benefits, in addition to having other beneficial medicinal properties. However, the consumption of garlic produces a characteristic odor on the body and bad breath. People who regularly take acetylsalicylic acid or other anticoagulant substances should avoid consuming garlic, as there may be an increased risk of bleeding.

Garlic can also be used as a natural pesticide, and it is common to use garlic extracts or macerates to combat some pests in vegetable gardens and small plantations.

Climate

Garlic can be grown in different climatic regions, with different cultivars suitable for different regions. However, hot and rainy regions are not suitable for planting, as it is necessary to have a cold period at the beginning or half of the growing cycle, with temperatures between 0 ° C and 15 ° C, to stimulate the formation of bulbs (the head of garlic). Plants generally do not form bulbs if the temperature remains above 25 ° C.

The ideal is mild temperatures as the plants grow, with a period of low temperatures at the stage when the bulbs should begin to form, followed by warmer months at the time of maturation of the heads.

Brightness

A necessary care to succeed in planting garlic is to choose cultivars adapted to the photoperiod of your region, that is, to the time of hours of light, from sunrise to sunset. There are many cultivars adapted to different photoperiods and climatic conditions, so try to find out about the best cultivars for planting in your region.

Garlic needs to receive direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.

Ground

Garlic is not very demanding in terms of soil, and can be planted in less fertile soils, with less nitrogen availability. The ideal is a light soil, well drained and rich in organic matter. The pH of the soil can be 5.5 to 8.3 (ideal pH 6.2 to 7). Planting on ridges is recommended if cultivation will be done on heavy clay soils.

Irrigation

Garlic must be irrigated frequently so that the soil is always kept moist during the initial growth phase of the plant. Decrease the frequency of irrigations when the bulbs are growing. About 10 to 20 days before harvest, stop irrigation.

Planting

Garlic can be grown from seeds, but it is much more common to plant garlic cloves. In commercial plantations it is recommended to separate the teeth by size, as planting teeth of the same size tends to produce more uniform plantations. However, on small domestic plantations, this is less important. Teeth that are too thin, damaged or have signs of decay should be discarded.

Plant each tooth in the final location at a depth of 3 to 5 cm (it can reach 8 cm or more in regions of severe winter). Teeth can also be planted in trays or seedbed, being transplanted after they sprout. It is very important to plant the teeth in the correct position, with the thinnest part of the tooth facing upwards. The spacing can be 25 to 30 cm between the planting lines, and 10 cm between the plants. In small plantations, without planting lines, the spacing can be 15 to 18 cm between the plants. Spacing larger than these allows plants to generate larger heads, but productivity per area decreases. Garlic can also be grown easily in pots and planters.

Planting is usually done in the fall. In colder regions, it can be planted in late summer, early fall or early spring. In regions with mild winter, planting can be done in autumn or winter. Usually the best heads are harvested from plants that were planted during the fall. For cultivation in warmer regions, the teeth can be stored under refrigeration (0 ° C to 10 ° C) for one or two months before planting is carried out (the appropriate refrigeration period varies with the cultivar).

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that can compete with garlic for nutrients and resources, at least during the first three months of cultivation.

Do not plant garlic in places where garlic or onions have recently been grown, as growing them in the same location greatly increases the risk of disease on the plantation.

Harvest

Garlic harvesting takes place from 16 to 36 weeks after planting, depending on the cultivar used, the region where the planting is carried out, the time of year, etc.

The garlic heads are ready for harvest when the older leaves start to turn yellow and dry. Pull out the entire plant, without detaching the leaves, preferably on dry and sunny days.

Curing is the process in which garlic loses excess water and consists of letting the bulbs dry in the sun for a few days. After this period, when the leaves and the outer layer of the bulbs are completely dry, the bulbs can be stored in cool, dry places, in braids, tied on wooden or bamboo poles, or in trays. It is important for the conservation of garlic heads to keep them in a dry environment with good ventilation. The garlic heads can be stored for up to almost a year, depending on the cultivar and the storage conditions. Loose teeth and damaged heads don’t last long.

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