Garlic has been consumed since time immemorial, for about 5000 years. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans already made use of this wonderful bulb of which the origin is located in Asia.
In addition to its great role in the kitchen, garlic is a very good ally of our health and there is extensive literature on the healing power of garlic. In the case of flu and cold, it is used as an expectorant. It is also widely used in the mouth and throat infections, sinusitis, circulatory problems, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, are a powerful inflammatory and natural antibiotic par excellence.
Cultivation of garlic in a flowerpot
Garlic is the ideal plant for growing in small plots or pots where lettuce, potato, pepper or cabbage have previously been grown.
Cultivation is sure to give us great satisfaction as it is usually simple and does not entail too many difficulties.
Its roots are not deep, so it is a good bet for cultivation tables or pots not very deep, where it can be developed easily. It is important that, because it has superficial roots, it does not compete with bad weeds.
It wants a loose and spongy soil, aerated and with a contribution of the organic matter very decomposed. If we know that our substrate is poor in potassium, an additional contribution of this will favour the final size of the bulb. This contribution may be sufficient with some watering with banana tea.
How and when to sow garlic
Garlic cultivation is very flexible. We will be able to plant it in winter or autumn, especially the varieties to consume as an agent or tender it is indicated to plant them in autumn and we will be able to consume them shortly after being sown. Depending on the time of sowing, its cultivation will last from 4 to 8 months and will end in June when the bulb is fully formed.
To sow the garlic, first, we will shell the head of the garlic inside which are the teeth, usually 6 to 12 per head. Without removing the skin that is adhered to the tooth, we bury it making sure that it is completely covered to a depth more or less than 1cm and bearing in mind that the most pointed part must look at the sky.
As we have already mentioned, this culture will not take too many complications or excessive work.
One of the most important considerations to take into account in the cultivation of garlic is to avoid waterlogging or excessive watering, as we could cause the bulb to rot due to excess water.
It is not a demanding plant as far as irrigation but it prefers humid soils. We will have to take special care if we cultivate in flowerpots and gardeners where it is always a little more complicated to maintain the necessary humidity point.
Insects and fungi
This crop does not usually carry too many complications caused by insects, although it may occasionally appear the tinea of garlic or onion fly that in small crops we can remove manually without problems.
Regarding mushrooms, if we cultivate in a balcony or space where we have few hours of direct sun, little ventilation and a high level of environmental humidity, can appear some colonies of mushrooms as mildew, rust or Botrytis.
The most common is mildew although this will not harm excessively and we can harvest the garlic with acceptable success. Anyway, if we know beforehand that where we will cultivate it is very humid, it will be good to have at hand some natural remedy like the infusion of the ponytail, or some ecological fungicide of sale.
Floral stems of garlic
In spring, with the first few days of heat, the garlic plant will develop a floral stem that must be removed for the bulb to gain weight. One hand pulls the stem until it breaks, while the other hand holds the plant so as not to remove the bulb from the soil and not to damage the roots.
If we are bold and creative in the kitchen, it is interesting to leave a stem to bloom, since its flowers have excellent smell and taste and you can use them as a condiment that will be incredible to the eye and palate.
When to collect garlic
When the leaves begin to yellow around May, it indicates that the bulb is beginning its low season.
There are two very important issues to consider when harvesting.
- One, we should not water during the last three weeks before harvest as the bulb in this phase has no water consumption.
- And two, it is also important not to rush when harvesting because we would lose quality and quantity. It will be at the end of June that the leaves will be practically or completely yellow and it is at that moment that we will be able to remove the bulbs avoiding to spoil their protective layer and leaving them two or three days in the sun to lose humidity. If the weather is not sunny and it is going to rain, we put them undercover on top of newspaper or straw.
Conservation of garlic
It is important to keep it in a cool, dry place with no sunlight.
Depending on the variety of garlic and the place where they are kept, their conservation may vary, although, as a rule, with good temperature and humidity parameters they can be kept for between six and eight months.
The garlic harvested and preserved during these months can lead to more garlic if we replant them in autumn. In this way, we already have the seed and we will be able to enjoy again the cultivation of a new generation of garlic in our urban orchard.