Growing Garlic in Containers
Garlic is an important ingredient in a great variety of foods and recipes. As well as its flavour and taste garlic has antiviral, anti-fungal and antibiotic properties and is believed to be beneficial for a number of ailments.
Container gardening is a growing trend making it possible for people who have small gardens, or even none at all, to enjoy growing their own, home grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. There are special varieties of many different plants that are suitable for container growing.
The first thing that is required is a deep container. Chose one that is at least 8 inches deep and it needs preferably to be placed where it gets plenty of sun. Some shade is acceptable but there does need to be times of good sun exposure.
Buying Garlic Cloves
There are many varieties of garlic readily available from supermarkets, garden centres and even local corner shops. If you want organic garlic ensure that it is certified as such before buying.
If you buy a bulb of garlic then peel the outer layer you will find that inside it is divided up into cloves. Do not plant the bulb but separate the cloves as each clove will grow into a bulb.
Planting the Cloves
Each clove will have a pointed end which needs to be place point upwards in about 2 inches of soil and be planted about 1 foot away from each other. This will give each plant enough space to grow and provide adequate nutrition from the soil. Containers sometimes dry out quite quickly and they will need regular watering.
Planting garlic outside generally takes place after the first frost, in the autumn, or winter. Indoors, garlic can be planted at any time of year as long as it receives adequate sunlight.
Garlic usually soon sprouts sending up a long green shoot called a scape. It is best to cut this off to prevent the plant going to seed. When cut the scape can be used in food like a mild onion. It is important not to let the plant flower as this produces smaller and less flavoursome cloves.
When the garlic is ready for harvesting the leaves will turn to a yellowish or brownish colour and the bulb can be uprooted and used as required.
You may notice that your bulbs are not as large as those found in shops and stores but this is normal and because it is difficult to reproduce the perfect conditions for growth at home that commercial growers can provide. Do not let this put you off because yours will be home grown and you will know what if anything that has been put on it.
Your home grown garlic can be stored in a refrigerator, or dried and stored on a shelf, or it can be used fresh when it is picked.
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