Garlic farming: Do you want to grow huge, delicious garlic? Fresh Garlic Farming adds a gourmet taste to your cooking and is a great addition to a kitchen garden or raised bed. You can even raise the tasty bulbs on your patio in large containers.
Imagine the look on your neighbor’s face when you bring over bulbs the size of apples and tell them that you grew it yourself. Unlike zucchini growers, no one will run when they see you approaching with your arms full of extra-large Garlic Farming.
In fact, you may have to fight them off once they get a taste of the good stuff!
1. Use good quality seed garlic for softball-sized bulbs.
Don’t waste your time and your energy raising mediocre tasting small garlic. You want to show off those luscious bulbs not hide them in shame. For the best flavor and the biggest size buy gourmet hardneck garlic planting stock.
Small white supermarket garlic is great for warding off vampires but a poor choice for growing. Supermarket bulbs may be treated with a sprouting inhibitor to inhibit growth. If they grow they will likely have small to medium bulbs.
On the other hand, hard neck Garlic farming varieties have an unforgettable gourmet taste and can grow as large as a softball.
You can buy hard neck bulbs and cloves from family farm websites or at your local farmer’s market. If you think all garlic tastes like you will have a wonderful surprise in store.
There are many varieties and flavors of this herb from mild to spicy hot. Good quality seed garlic is more expensive than the supermarket stuff but worth it if you want big beautiful bulbs.
2. Plant the biggest cloves for the biggest bulbs.
In Garlic farming, size matters. When you break apart a garlic bulb you will see that the cloves are different sizes. Too often hungry gardeners are tempted to eat the biggest cloves and leave the smaller ones to plant.
That is a mistake; there is a direct correlation between clove size and future bulb size. To grow the blue ribbon winning bulbs, plant the biggest cloves you can find; even if you have to hide them from the family cook.
I only save and plant the biggest seed cloves and some of my garlic weighs over 1/3 of a pound per bulb.
3. Prepare the soil correctly for huge Garlic farming.
Garlic grows best in loose soil with good drainage. Make sure the planting site you choose is sunny and dry with well drained soil. Garlic is not watercress and it will rot in the ground if it sits in standing water too long.
Dig or till the plot well to loosen the soil. Root crops grow best in crumbly soil that is free of lumps. If your soil is hard clay or Southern gumbo, it may be easier to grow the aromatic herb in a raised bed filled with a better draining soil.
When preparing the planting bed, add loads of organic matter like compost, manure, or peat. Garlic is a heavy feeder and loves soil high in organic matter and nitrogen. The more compost you add to your soil in the fall the bigger the bulbs will be the next summer.
4. Garlic farming cloves in the fall for a bumper crop.
Hardneck garlic grows in the coolest part of the year. In the North, garlic grows a large root network during the coldest part of the year and pops up in the late winter-ready and raring to go.
In Kenya, Garlic farming needs to be exposed to winter’s chill to develop a decent size bulb. Either way, fall planting will result in the biggest crop. In the North plant cloves pointy end up and 4-6 inches deep. In most northern climates, you should plant cloves in September to early November, depending on the average winter temperatures.
Those who live in colder areas need to plant sooner. I grow in Mount Kenya and usually plant in October. You want to plant after the first frost but before the ground freezes solid; unless you are a very dedicated gardener who likes to use a jackhammer to dig planting holes!
Make sure to mulch with straw or compost to protect your cloves from the cold. In Kenya, plant cloves from October to December to take advantage of what little winter you receive. In either area, you can plant garlic in the spring, but the resulting bulbs will be much smaller.
Follow these basic tips and you too can be harvesting really big and tasty hardneck garlic bulbs!