How to Grow Garlic Like an Expert

Updated on July 16, 2020
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.

Who Wants to Grow Garlic?

Many edible plants have two fan clubs. Garlic is no different. Those who adore garlic’s pale yellow cloves might even fall into both groups. Who are they? The cooks and the self-healers. As you’ll see, or most probably already know, this humble herb has medicinal properties that are as potent as its flavour.

What is Garlic Used For?

As a cooking herb, garlic’s popularity is almost unrivalled. The cloves, which can be used both raw and cooked, is an ingredient in some of the top dishes in the culinary world. It’s best known for adding love to garlic bread, stews, sauces, and meat dishes.

As a remedy, garlic is not the new kid on the block. For centuries, people all over the world have trusted garlic to treat a range of medical problems. These days garlic is used as a complementary therapy against cancer, to treat cardiovascular issues, hypertension, infections and osteoporosis prevention.

Please note that garlic isn’t safe in some cases. You can find garlic’s side-effects at the end of this article.


Can I Grow Garlic at Home?

Yes, you can grow garlic at home. The easiest way is to use cloves. They are so prolific that sometimes when you remove the bulb cluster’s paper-like skin, you might even find that some of the cloves are already sprouting! In that case, you can plant them as soon as possible. Don’t worry if you have instead landed a few lazy pods needing a little encouragement to grow. We’ll cover the growing process shortly.

Why Can’t I Grow Garlic From Seed?

Garlic cannot be grown from seed for several reasons. First, it’s rare for a garlic plant to produce true seeds. When it does, very few of these tiny black seeds will sprout. Even worse, the fraction that does sprout will produce plants that take years to form anything that resembles garlic as we know it. At the end of the day, it’s quicker and more satisfying to grow your garlic from cloves.

How to Grow Garlic From Cloves

Garlic is a sun-worshiper. So make sure that you pick a toasty, sunny area to plant your cloves. You can plant garlic in a pot or outside in the garden but depending on the location, you’ll have to approach your planting, timing, and maintenance a little differently.

How do I Grow Garlic in a Container?

You can grow garlic in a container by keeping things simple. This option might be the better one (as opposed to planting your garlic directly in the garden). You can keep a closer eye on your growing seedling and move it out of danger or to a better, sunnier location. If you want to go the container route, here are the best steps to follow.

  1. Only plant one clove per pot.

  2. Take care when you separate the cloves. Try not to damage them.

  3. You can plant during any time during the year providing that there’s enough sun.

  4. First, fill your pot with well-draining soil.

  5. Make a hole that’s large enough to hold a clove.

  6. Place the clove inside, pointy end up.

  7. Ensure that the clove is buried at a depth that is twice its own length.

  8. Water when the soil seems dry.

  9. When flowers show up, remove them.

  10. After a few weeks, your garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellow.

How do I Grow Garlic in the Garden?

You can grow garlic in the garden much the same way as growing it in a pot. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The main difference is planting according to the seasons and providing the necessary outdoors care.

  1. Plant your cloves in autumn. Absorbing the cold of winter actually makes them grow better when spring arrives.

  2. Choose an area that’s sunny and dry.

  3. Carefully divide the cloves.

  4. Prepare the holes in the same way as the containers but space them 18cm apart.

  5. Plant the cloves in the same way as potted garlic.

  6. Water regularly but don’t overdo it.

  7. Remove weeds when you notice them.

  8. As they appear, remove the garlic plant’s flowers too.

  9. The leaves should turn yellow in summer, signalling that your garlic is ready for harvesting.

The beautiful spectacle of a garlic flower field.
The beautiful spectacle of a garlic flower field. | Source

How To Manage Garlic-Loving Pests

Humans are not the only creatures in love with garlic. There is fungal disease, viruses, arachnids, and insects that might pester your favourite herb. The fungal problems arrive with fun names like Downy Mildew and Purple Blotch but their damage is anything but comic. Most fungal disease in garlic can be avoided when you keep your herb relatively dry and by using cloves that are clearly healthy or purchased from verified disease-free sources.

The most common viral issue is Garlic mosaic virus (GarMV). Named for its habit of causing mosaic shapes on leaves, it’s transmitted by aphids. Therefore, it’s crucial to remove these critters as soon as you spot them.

Arachnids and insects include mites, aphids, and onion maggots. Unfortunately, there are many more than just these three. Most, however, can be prevented by prudently checking for the first signs of infestation and also to plant each new crop in a rotation basis in different fields.

Precautions When Using Garlic

Given its delicious taste and rampant use, one might be forgiven for thinking that garlic is completely safe. This illusion is bolstered by the fact that few people have tales of horror to share about how their favourite uncle succumbed to garlic bread. To be fair towards the herb, garlic is safe in small amounts and when you avoid consistently consuming the herb over a long period of time. Even so, please avoid garlic if the following applies to you or someone in your family.

  • Pregnancy.

  • Breastfeeding.

  • Bleeding disorders.

  • Low blood pressure.

  • Diabetes.

  • Stomach and digestion issues.

  • If you’re scheduled for surgery or you’re a new post-surgery patient.

  • If you’re using birth control.

Avoid Garlic With These Medications

Garlic has shown major interactions with the following chemicals and medications. Avoid this herb completely if any of the following applies to you.

  • Isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH).

  • Medications for HIV/AIDS.

  • Saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase).

  • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).

  • Blood clotting medications.

A Quick Summary

Garlic has been touted for centuries as a medicinal and culinary wonder. This makes the herb an enduring favourite among those who love to grow their own veggies and seasoning. While growing garlic at home is a slow process, the herb is easy to care for. As far as using garlic is concerned, this annual plant produces unforgettable dishes but individuals with certain medical conditions must also avoid consuming products that contain garlic.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jana Louise Smit


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