Garlic Growing

Garlic is grown from the individual cloves. Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb. This may in turn contain up to twenty cloves. Growing Garlic is therefore self-sustaining. In Uganda it is traditional to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, whether this is for symbolic or practical reasons is unclear. One can eat garlic fresh out of the ground but if stored it must be cured first.

How to Grow Garlic

  • When planting garlic choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp.
  • The cloves should be planted individually upright and about an inch (25 mm) under the surface. Plant the cloves about 4 inches (100 mm) apart. Rows should be about 18 inches (450 mm) apart.
  • Garlic can be planted in the dry and wet seasons.
  • In warmer climates, it is best to plant Garlic in early dry season but seed Garlic must be chilled first to break it out of its dormant state.
  • One should be sure to plant each clove with the pointy tip facing up and the basal/root end facing down.
  • Planting garlic more closely produces more cloves although each clove will be smaller however many growers feel that close spacing increases total overall yield in pounds of garlic per square foot of garden.
  • Garlic prefers loose loamy soil with plenty of organic matter separating bulbs into cloves right before planting leaving the papery layer around each clove.
  • Larger cloves should be used for planting and the little ones for eating or preserving.
  • Mulching garlic can be very helpful, mulching can protect against winterkill in cold climates. It helps moderate soil temperatures, keeps weeds in check, and conserves soil moisture. Mulching is not recommended in wetter climates. Mulch for garlic can be straw, hay, swamp grass, reeds, chopped leaves or plastic.
  • One should be sure to obtain cloves from certified disease-free stock, because once a field has been infected with white rot fungus it may take decades for the infection to completely clear and nematodes can breed in garlic for up to six seasons before suddenly taking an entire crop. Besides using clean stock, inspecting plants and pulling any that look diseased, and using sticky traps for onion thrips, are the best management practices.

Use of Garlic
Garlic is used in so many dishes and with over 600 sub varieties there is ample room for gourmet garlic growers to carve out a niche.
For the home grower, a year’s supply of garlic is easy to grow and one can give away braids of it for presents throughout the year if grown too much.
Hard neck Garlic produces a curly green flower stalk called a scape. Garlic scapes should be harvested from the plant as it grows so that the Garlic concentrates its energy into growing the bulb larger however, if growing bulbils for seed, allow the Garlic scape to grow because Scapes are edible and delicious.

Pests that Affect Garlic Growing

  • White rot is the most serious disease of garlic.
    White rot is a fungus that can strike all Alliums crops including onions. White rot-infected garlic plants can be identified because their leaves will turn yellow and the plants will die back partially and wilt. The roots rot as well, so infected plants may uproot easily. White rot typically develops from the middle of the season to harvest.
  • Nematode is another problematic garlic pest.
    These microscopic animals are similar to worms and live inside the garlic plant itself, eating it as it reproduces. Nematodes do not need water to survive and they can live in the surrounding soil for several years. Nematode infestation can build up for several seasons without much damage, then strike and take out an entire crop.
  • Onion thrips are the most common insect that plagues garlic.
    Thrips damage the leaves by drinking the sap of the plant, which slows the growth of the bulb thus severe thrips, may cause the garlic to wilt and die.
    Soil should be evenly moist, with a dry spell two to three weeks before harvest time. If conditions are too wet near harvest, mold may grow. 
  • Weeds are a big threat to garlic, so the plot should be kept well-weeded.
    Weeds can easily out-compete young garlic plants. Good mulch keeps weeds in check and watering of Garlic should be done evenly during early growth, but avoid watering for the last few weeks.

Harvesting of Garlic
Harvesting of garlic should be done when half to three-quarters of the bottom leaves have died which usually happens in mid to late July and August for most areas.

Harvest a test bulb or two to determine maturity. garlic should be well-wrapped but not split.

To harvest garlic, loosen the soil with a shovel or fork and pull up plants by hand with caution because garlic bruises easily. If raising bulbils to propagate new garlic, harvest and dry them separately from the bulbs.

Storing of Garlic

Garlic should be placed in a dark place with good air circulation for two to three weeks after harvest to allow it to cure. For storage braid the soft neck Garlic. Trim stems of hard neck garlic to one inch above the bulb. Storing it where it will have good air circulation, 65-70% humidity, and a temperature of 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

In warm sunny climates, garlic can be left in the field to dry, but it should be covered with leaves to prevent sunburn. Cured garlic will keep at least six months and up to a year when stored in optimal conditions.

Health Benefits of Garlic

  • It has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to    increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances.
  • Diallyl sulfide a component of Garlic oil has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have linked Garlic as well as onions, leeks, and chives to lower risk of Stomach and Colon Cancer.

Varieties of Garlic

  • There are several garlic varieties grown by Ugandan farmers. Over 600 varieties of garlic are grown worldwide. One of the most common are
  • American garlic with white, papery skin and a strong flavour.
  • The Italian Garlic
  • Mexican Garlic has a pinkish-purple skin and a slightly mild flavour



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