Growing garlic indoors is not a crazy idea. In fact, that idea is practical and might save you a few trips to the store with only a little effort used. What can bring you to the idea of growing garlic? Well, let’s see what we know about the plant.
Garlic is a bulbous plant of the onion genus, first reported to have been in Ancient Egypt, some odd 7,000 years ago. Today it is a staple of the Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, and except for seasoning, it can be used as a herb for various medicinal purposes. Sounds useful so far, right? Wait, there’s more. It has a variety of properties and has been used for a multitude of purposes: as a palliative against the sun’s heat in field labour, used as food by ancient Roman and Greek warriors, used in different rituals, has been reported to single-handedly cure oedema.
And not to mention it repels vampires and demons! Yes, garlic is supposedly a religious and magical tool. Folk beliefs in Europe describe the use of garlic for white magic, while Hinduism states that garlic stimulates the warm body and increases desires – a belief shared in Buddhism according to which garlic stimulates sexual and aggressive drives
ts medicinal properties are still explored by medical doctors and scientists: it is said to have extraordinary cardiovascular effects such as lowering total cholesterol, and supposedly it has some effect on the blood pressure and a role in the lowering of death and illness rates in people with hypertension. This year studies report that eating garlic is associated with lower risk of cancer types. Your grandparents will tell you that garlic is used to keep the common cold away, though a report in 2014 states that there is still insufficient evidence for such a claim.
Outside of culinary and medicine, garlic has a role in mending glass and porcelain as it can be made into a concoction suitable for the job. Its antibacterial properties are allowing gardeners to use it as a pesticide, and it can also be a fish and meat preservative.
Sounds in credibly useful, right? If it has your attention, now let’s see how you can grow your own garlic indoors and make use of some of its culinary or medicinal powers.
First Stage: Pot and Soil
For the most part, garlic is of the easiest plants you can grow in your garden. Wait for the proper season, plant, water, wait to grow, harvest – that is literally everything you need to do to get yourself a successful crop. Growing it indoors, however, is a bit trickier, though still among the most simple gardening jobs you can get.
First of all, you need to set things up. Finding a container is not hard – it can be anything from a box to a deep plate, as wide and long as you want, depending on the number of seeds you are planning on planting. The only requirements are holes for drainage at the bottom, and a depth of at least 20-25cm. Next comes finding the right soil. Pick one with a ratio of 3 parts fertile soil, 1 part sand, and do make sure it is fertile. The soil should be altered with bone meal and earthworm castings to give the proper fertility, and perlite to provide drainage aid as garlic seeds require good drainage – constantly moist soil will result in the seed rotting away.
Second Stage: Planting and Care
You may think that it is easy to figure out what to do with garlic seeds and a pot of soil, but there are a few specifics which you should comply with. Garlic is easy to grow, but only when properly set up. And just because you are planting it indoors it does not mean that the season does not matter. There is a time for everything, and there is a time for planting garlic as well. January or February are the months you are looking for, provided you live in a climate zone with standard season lengths. The point is to plant them sometime before the average last frost so that the crop can grow bigger and produce larger heads. Now all you need is a window which will provide the seeds with at least 7-8 hours of direct sunlight – a south-facing one should do the job. And do not forget to leave it over a container that will allow the water to drain out – remember, too much moist and water will rot the seeds!
The planting part is easy, just follow the specifications. Just take single garlic bulbs and push them between 10 and 15cm into the soil, and at least 10cm from one another to give them breathing room. And do stay away from supermarket bulbs! They are filled with chemicals and are mostly GM crops which will not serve you best. Better find organically grown bulbs and use them. Remember to place them with the flat part down so that the seeds can grow upward and outside the soil.
Taking care of the seeds takes a bit more effort. Garlic needs frequent watering, but those watering should not be abundant. You merely need to get the soil moist, and not clog it with water. Make sure the water drains properly every time you do it. If you picked the proper soil at the beginning, the garlic will not need further fertilizing, but it will give better results if you do add some compost every now and then.
Third Stage: The Waiting Game
And there comes the big wait. Growing garlic takes patience and diligence. Just make sure you add that moisturizing sprinkle of water and keep the crops exposed to sunlight – that is all the care it takes. The much harder part is the waiting. The growth process of organically planted and taken care garlic takes between 8 to 10 months since you planted the bulbs. It may seem long, but it is mostly just waiting – the maintenance is incredibly simple and requires only a minute of your day, with no weed control or grass cutting around it required, just occasionally you may want to clip flowers from the base of the growing seeds so that you focus the energy into the bulb becoming bigger
Some gardeners wait for the winter to pass and then replant their pot-planted garlic in their outdoor garden for better sunlight exposure. If you feel proficient enough in gardening, you can do that as well, but it is hardly required to get a proper end result.
Final Stage: Harvest and Drying
You will know the time for harvesting has come when the leaves at the bottom of the plant start turning yellow, and the leaves at the top start hardening like paper and change colour to a brownish-yellow hue. You could risk waiting further than that, but you also risk the splitting or malforming of the fruit of your 10-month labour, so do not take any unnecessary risks until you think yourself an expert gardener. One way to do it is to dig around the garlic heads and pull them out if you like the size of the bulb. You should nevertheless dig around the heads when doing the harvesting itself, just to make sure that you do not tear the stalk and leave the head in the ground.
No, your job is not done after the harvest is complete. Garlic heads require attention even after ripening and being taken out. Now you must cure them by hanging them in a cool, dim, and dry area with good air conditioning. A few weeks later and the skins of the garlic will dry out and it will be ready to use.
Congratulations, you just grew your first indoor garlic crop! If it was plentiful enough, it could very well last you the full year you will need to plant and grow the next crop. The organic crop will be healthier than anything you can pick up at the supermarket. If you enjoy preparing your own food from the ground to the plate like the experts from Handy Gardeners, who value the benefits of the organic food, you can now enjoy the fruit of your diligence with the cooking – or rituals – you planned for it beforehand.