You can enjoy the flavor of homegrown gourmet garlic even if you don't have a yard to grow them in. Garlic can thrive in containers, making it a good choice for apartment dwellers or others with minimal growing options. The following tips will help you grow and enjoy your garlic like a pro.
Tip #1: The Right Containers
Wider is better, so you can plant as much garlic in a small space as possible. One option is to use a plastic show storage box. These are wide enough for about three rows of garlic cloves, or two rows if you are growing larger elephant garlic. Use a nail to poke holes all over the bottom to create drainage. Then, set the container on top of the lid, which will act as a drip tray. If you want to use a regular planter, opt for one that is at least a foot wide so you can plant multiple cloves.
Tip #2: Your Soil Mix
Garlic grows well in any moderately fertile soil. You can create your own mix by combining equal parts compost and topsoil, and then mix in a few handfuls of vermiculite or perlite to improve drainage in the container. (Both are available from garden centers.) If you don't want to make your own, any potting soil formulated for vegetable plants will work well. Just don't use soil from the yard – it will become compacted in the confines of a container.
Tip #3: Plant Wisely
Once your container is filled with soil and moistened, it's time to plant. Garlic is typically planted in mid- to late-fall for midsummer harvest. Begin by breaking apart the cloves. Save the larger outer cloves for planting – you can eat the inner small cloves. Push the large cloves about an inch into the soil with the pointy end facing up. Space the cloves about 4 inches apart, which gives them room to form bulbs, in rows at a similar distance. Once done, all you need to do is set the pot outside, such as on your porch, where it can get some sun throughout winter. Water the soil if it begins to feel dry.
Tip #4: Enjoy
Your cloves may send up shoots at any time from planting through spring. In late spring, you may notice curly tops with swollen ends forming on some of the shoots. These are called scapes and they have a mild garlic flavor. Go ahead and cut them off for cooking-- just leave the other foliage intact. In summer, after the foliage begins to yellow, dig up your mature bulbs. Allow them to dry in a shady area for a few days, and then cut off the leaves and brush off the soil before storing. Contact a company like Keene Garlic for more information about garlic seeds for sale.