How to Grow Garlic
Garlic's vital place in the kitchen makes it in demand throughout the year. Fresh or processed, garlic is used extensively as food, as a condiment, and for medical purposes. Processed garlic include garlic flakes, garlic chips, garlic granules, garlic powder, and garlic salt.
Garlic is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. In some parts of the world, garlic leaves—said to be rich in Vitamin A and C—are eaten as vegetables. Garlic is also said to contain allicin, an antibacterial compound that slows down the growth of certain bacteria and fungi.Thus, it is often used in folk medicine to treat wounds, toothache, sore throat, and fungal skin diseases such as athlete's foot and ringworm. In fact, medical experts recommend including garlic in your daily diet. For instance, research has shown that at least two cloves a day can help lower blood pressure. It is also possesses anti-obesity properties and can control excess cholesterol by clearing it from your blood vessels.
In the Philippines, there are two of the most popular varieties of garlic among Filipino farmers—the Ilocos White and the Nueva Ecija Pink. The pungent aroma and spicy flavor of these local varieties are highly sought after. On the other hand, many traders import the large-cove Taiwan variety which has a more bland aroma flavor. Many consumers prefer this because it is cheaper and easier to prepare. Other popular varieties include Tan Bolters, Batanes White, Batangas White, and Ilocos Pink.
Days Before Harvest
Resistance to Pests and Diseases
Medium-sized, spicy and hot flavor, pungent aroma
90 to 110
October to December
Nueva Ecija Pink
Medium-to-large sized, spicy flavor, pungent aroma
110 to 120
October to December
Bigger cloves than Ilocos white, good for storage
105 to 120
October to December
For favorable results, garlic is best grown in areas that enjoy a wet season from May to October and a dry season from November to April. It enjoys full sun, and too much rainfall is not good for its cultivation. During the early stages of growth, the plants needs relatively cool weather, so it is best to start growing in October or November. This also minimizes the risk of trips infestation.
In upland areas that get a lot of rain, planting starts in the early part of September. In lowland areas, the ideal time to plant is October. Planting in December usually results in smaller bulbs because they can be affected by early onset of rain.
Garlic grows well in clay, alluvial, and sandy loam that crumbles easily in the hand, although the crop grows in all types of soil as long as it is well drained. Otherwise, standing water will cause the bulbs to rot in the ground. Ideal soil pH is 5.4 to 6.8. To achieve the high organic content needed to plant garlic, add well-composted manure or plant cover crops as mulch, then till them into the ground. Weedy and irregular soil surface needs to be plowed to get a fine, firm, smooth, and level bed. Mix the recommended amount of fertilizers, usually urea and NPK, into the soil before leveling the field.
Preparing the Cloves
Prepare the cloves the afternoon of the day before planting. Separate the cloves in a bulb of garlic, choosing the bigger ones for planting. Soak cloves for two minutes in a solution of 3 tbsp malathion in five gallons of water. This is to kill any microscopic pests that cause diseases in the seedlings. Drain cloves and put in a clean container.
Readying the Soil
- Cut rice straw to be used as mulch.
- Broadcast 100 kg of organic fertilizer for every 1000 sq. m. of land. Harrow the land twice before spreading 3-5 cm deep rice straw as mulch.
- One week before planting, broadcast 20 kg of complete fertilizer per 1000 sq. m. of land. Harrow the land twice before spreading 3-5 cm deep rice straw as mulch.
- Build trenches around the perimeter and center for irrigation.
- Irrigate two to three days before transplanting to get the ideal moisture for the bulbs to germinate: slightly hard and not muddy.
Mark rows using parallel lines of string spaced 20 cm apart. To plant, simply push a dibble or pointed stick into the soil around 2 cm deep and 1 cm wide. Insert one clove every 20 cm along each row.
As crop, garlic is sensitive to waterlogged soil. Too much water causes root diseases to develop. Schedule of irrigation should be:
- three to five days before transplanting
- right after mulching
- two weeks after planting
- at the early bulbing stage
- at the bulbing stage and, if the soil
appears dry, one more after
- stop irrigation 70 to 85 days after planting
Generally, garlic requires 3 to 10 irrigation throughout one planting cycle. Depending on the soil type and occurrence of rainfall, irrigation should be done whenever moisture is not sufficient, especially during the vegetative growth stage. Clay loam is irrigated thrice, while sandy soil needs to be irrigated more often. However, water should never be allowed to stay in the field for more than six hours.
One main advantage of planting garlic in a rice-based system is that most of the weeds have been eliminated during the previous rice season. Even then, anew batch of weeds will grow and weeding should start around 30 days after planting. For loam soil where weeds grow faster, weeding should begin at 15 to 20 days after planting. Either way, weeding should be done before the bulbs start to form.
A common mistake made at this stage is waiting too long to get bigger bulbs. Leaving garlic bulbs in the ground beyond a certain time usually results in split, dried out bulbs. Its time to harvest when the neck tissues have softened and the leaves have turned yellow, but there are still mostly green leaves higher up on the plant.
When harvesting, gently uproot the bulbs to avoid breaking the stalk. It also helps to use a pitchfork to loosen the soil first. Spread out the harvested plants to dry together with the leaves to avoid abrupt scalding, resulting in the lower quality cloves. After drying for 7 to 10 days, tie the bulb with approximately 1 kg per bundle at around 6 pm to give the plant enough time to absorb moisture and avoid crumbling of the leaves.
Cleaning, Curing, and Storage
One month after drying, use a knife or scissors to cut the roots. manually remove the outer covering of the bulbs, along with excess soil. Twine up to 100 bulbs or 1 kg into a rope, then hang for one to two months in a well-ventilated room (not so humid and free from draft).