Can you imagine your favorite savory dish without any garlic? I think about all the good cuisines that are ten times tastier and better because of the incredible flavor. The salsa dips, the pasta, the stews, and baked goods – garlic makes so many foods fragrant and delicious. But more than just being a seasoning or condiment, it is full of vitamins and nutrients.
The great Greek physician and founder of modern medicine Hippocrates prescribed garlic to his patients for all kinds of ailments. It’s been recorded that he would recommend it to treat those with sores, abdominal pains, and pulmonary diseases. Cooked garlic was prescribed to asthma patients.
The garlic bulbs may be small, but they contain minerals like selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and more antioxidants. Research today has confirmed what the ancient Greeks knew all along. Adding garlic to our daily diet will give us all the great benefits for our body.
And we’re not just talking about a satisfied palate after every meal. Garlic plants have anti-inflammatory benefits that help the blood flow easily through our bodies.
Eating it daily helps boost the immune system and reduces the strong effect of cold and flu symptoms. Isn’t that awesome! Garlic has always been one of my favorites, but these benefits give us all the more reason to love it.
You already know why you should be consuming these bulbous vegetables. In today’s article, I’m sharing why you should grow garlic indoors. So grab the freshest garlic cloves, chop them up, add them to your sumptuous dish, and then, let’s get planting!
All About The Bulbs
Garlic has a long and exciting history. It was first eaten as a food source by our foraging ancestors. From the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Romans, and Greeks, these bulbs played a role in the ancient kitchens and healing rooms. Today, you won’t find garlic as we know it, out in the wild. We’ve long since cultivated this vegetable for all its benefits.
The bulbous vegetable is family to onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots, among other greens. It is part of the Allium genus, a member of the Amaryllidaceae family.
It was not until recently when I discovered there actually has three varieties. Only two are officially garlic, though. Each type carries a different flavor profile, and most people may not notice the difference. Gardeners grow these varieties depending on the climate and soil quality.
If you get your garlic at the grocery store, this is most likely the bulbs you’ve been enjoying. This variety grows best in areas with mild winters. It does not have a hard stem but a floppy stalk. The flavor is mildly pungent, and the clove sizes vary. Between other varieties, this kind stores better because it is wrapped in multiple papery layers.
A. sativum var. ophioscorodon
The hardneck variety got its name for being a winter-hardy plant. It can withstand and thrives better in colder winters. It has a stiff stalk that keeps upright and won’t flop over. The hardneck is stronger in flavor, and some subspecies of this variety grow edible flower stems and blooms. Unlike the softneck, these garlic bulbs don’t do well when stored. It has fewer cloves but they are uniform in size.
This is officially a leek, but many mistake it for garlic and so it’s often considered one. Elephant variety has a few huge cloves. It does not grow well in cold-weather areas but it grows to garden zone 5. Compared to the other greens, this plant has a mild taste.
Growing Garlic Indoors
Growing garlic indoors may not seem like a viable option, especially because planting it outdoors has many benefits for your garden. For one, garlic is a great companion crop. It has a high sulfur signature that makes it a natural repellent for pests and fungus.
But container planting is one of the best ways to get the most out of this delicious crop. For those who do not have the luxury of space, or a huge lot to space even the crop, growing in containers allows you to plant as many as you want. You can easily move it around which means you can grow garlic indoors any time of the year. You can give it enough sun and bring it to shelter if there is too much rain. Growing indoors, green garlic in containers makes it easier for you to control the environment where your vegetable is growing.
Keeping the soil loose or moist, fighting weeds, freezing soil, or moving the position of the bulbs won’t be a hassle when you practice indoor growing.
Perhaps the best reason why I recommend growing garlic indoors is for the simple fact that it has one really long growing season. Honestly – a long growing time before it is ready to harvest. That means growing garlic outside makes it vulnerable to attack by pests and diseases.
With your containers inside and easily accessible to you, enjoy your own fresh and healthy vegetable ready for cooking.
What You’ll Need to Grow Garlic Indoors
When you plant garlic outdoors, you’ll have to wait for fall to start planting. But with indoor gardening, you can try and start planting garlic any time of the year.
Garlic plants have shallow roots. That means you don’t need a really deep container, one with at least 8 inches deep is a great start. For the diameter of the container, take into consideration which part you want to harvest. To grow garlic greens, you must plant the cloves closely. To harvest garlic bulbs, keep a four-inch space between each clove.
If you are planting three cloves garlic, make sure your container is at least 12 inches wide, so they have enough space to thrive. Of course, choose a container that looks good inside your home and fits the design of your room. Most importantly, ensure that your containers have drainage holes in the bottom!
These veggies want soil that is well-draining, loose, rich, and loamy. This is one of those crops that needs consistent moisture in the soil, so keep it not too wet and not too dry. With that in mind, your garlic bulbs thrive better with a special potting mix. Some gardeners recommend mixing cocopeat, compost or manure, perlite, or vermiculite in equal parts.
This mixture makes the potting soil loose, allowing water to drain easily. It also creates a balanced fertilizer helping the garlic cloves to start. Run a soil taste and make sure that your soil pH is at 6.0 to 7.5. And, from one gardener to another, please don’t use soil that’s recently been planted with other Alliums! You’ll be harming your new garlic plant with potential pests and diseases that may have been growing in the previous plant.
For indoors garlic, find a spot where your pot can get at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. The best location for your bulbs would be south or west-facing window. If the sun is not your household’s best strength, purchase indoor grow lights. This will make it a whole lot easier for you, dear indoor gardener.
Garlic grown indoors still requires feeding, just like their outdoor counterparts. The garlic plant needs an organic general-purpose fertilizer. Feed them twice a month during the warm growing season. Choose between a liquid fertilizer like seaweed or fish emulsion. You can also sprinkle a fertilizer like compost or worm casting on top of the soil surface.
The garlic bulbs you find in your supermarket might not be the best source for cloves. You see, these bulbs most likely have been chemically treated to last longer while on display. They won’t sprout if you try to cultivate them. Buy your garlic clove or garlic bulb from a local plant nursery or gardening store.
If you find green sprouts coming out of the top of the garlic bulb, that’s the garlic sprouting and you can definitely cultivate these. For growing a garlic bulb, refrigerate the cloves for at least 40 days. Hardneck varieties need this preparation so they can fully bloom. If you are growing garlic only for edible leaves, you need not do this step.
Let’s Go Planting!
With your potting mix and container ready, it’s time for planting garlic indoors. Fill the pot to the top with your potting soil and then lightly tamper the surface down so you can water. Take out your refrigerated bulb and separate the cloves. Remember that the largest cloves will grow the largest plants. You don’t need to peel the individual cloves, these papery white skins serve as protection for the cloves.
With your pot in place and full of your choice potting soil, poke holes using your finger or a stick. It should be at least 1-3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Make sure to watch the proper distance so your roots can grow without issues. Place 1 clove into each of the holes, remembering to keep the pointy side or growing tip upward. Roots grow at the bottom of the clove, so that’ll be a problem if you put it in the pot the wrong way.
Cover the cloves on top loosely with 1 inch of soil of the potting mix. And then proceed to water the garlic. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not sopping wet. Slowly pour water into the container until you see the water running out of the drainage holes in the bottom.
It’s Harvest Time
All that research, hard work, and effort will be worth it when your plants are finally ready to harvest. One of the benefits of container gardening is how easily you can harvest. If you want to harvest your bulbs, just dump the container and pull out the crop. Easy and fun!
After a couple of weeks’ time, you’ll find that new garlic shoots are coming out of the cloves. If your primary goal is to grow garlic bulbs, you need to leave the leaves alone to give energy to the bulb. But if you want to enjoy garlic greens, the growing leaves, you can start harvesting them. Pick the garlic greens once they are at least 4-6 inches tall. Leave an inch of the leaves so that each clove can regrow.
To harvest bulbs, you will need to wait for 8 to 10 months. You will know when your garlic is ready to harvest when seeing the leaves turn brown. When this happens, remove them from the soil and container and allow them to dry out for a week. And there you have it, you’re equipped for growing garlic!
FAQ about growing garlic indoors:
Can you grow garlic indoors year-round?
Yes! That’s the beauty of container gardening. You can move your pot around. Growing indoors makes it easier for you to control the environment where your garlic is planted. You can give it enough sun and bring it to shelter if there is too much rain.
Can you grow garlic from a clove?
To grow garlic, you need individual garlic cloves broken from a whole bulb. In your container, poke holes in the soil. Each hole should be spaced six inches apart. Plant the cloves into each of the holes, make sure that the pointy side is up. With proper care, garlic grows bulbs in 8 to 10 months.
Can garlic be grown in pots?
Yes. One of the best ways to get the most out of garlic is by planting it in pots. It has a long growing season before harvest, having it planted outside exposes it to pests and diseases. Start with a pot that is at least 8 inches deep and can provide at least 4 inches of space between cloves.
Do garlic plants need a lot of sun?
Garlic needs full sun with loose soil. Place your container where there are at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. A south or west-facing window is ideal when you are growing garlic indoors.