Organic Garlic Planting, Growing, and Harvesting
Today, we will be discussing of Organic Garlic Planting, Growing and Harvesting process.
Garlic is a member of the Allium genus, related to onions, leeks, chives, & shallots. Garlic is the second most generally used to cultivate Allium after the onion. It has long been recognized all over the world as a valuable spice in foods & a popular remedy for various ailments and physiological disorders. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, & Chinese onion. Initially evolving under mild climates, garlic has been bred over thousands of years to be generally adaptable, now performing well in colder regions such as the Midwest. The garlic plant consists of the bulb, the leafed stalk, & the leafless flower stem called the scape. Garlic flowers are sterile & produce small cloves, called bulbils, instead of seeds. Garlic bulbs consist of four to twenty separate fleshy sections known as cloves, each wrapped in a papery skin called the tunic.
Garlic is native to Central Asia & northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide. It is grown throughout Pakistan & consumed by most of the people. It is used all over the world for flavoring different dishes. It was known to ancient Egyptians and has been used both as a food flavoring & as traditional medicine. Allium sativum is a bulbous plant, growing up to 1 meter that means 3.3 ft in height.
The scientific name of garlic:
Origin and major types
Garlic native land is Middle Asia. There is a range of beliefs as to the exact origin of garlic such as that it originates from Western China, around Tien Shan Mountains to Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan. Garlic will grow wild simply in Central Asia today. Earlier in history garlic grew wild over a much larger region & in fact, wild garlic may have occurred in an area from China to India to Egypt to Ukraine.
This region where garlic has grown in the wild is referred to as its “center of origin” since this is the geographic region where the crop originated & the only place where it flourished in the wild. In fact, although we sometimes hear about “wild garlic” elsewhere in the world, this is the only section where true garlic routinely grows in the wild without the assistance of human propagation. There are other plants locally referred to as “wild garlic”, but these are regularly other species of the garlic genus (Allium), not garlic itself (Allium sativum). For example, Allium vineale is a wild relative of garlic that occurs in North America & is commonly called “wild garlic”. The “center of origin” for a plant or animal species is referred to as its “center of diversity” since it is here that the broadest range of genetic variation can be expected.
Types of Garlic:
Garlic falls into two subspecies – soft neck and hard neck.
Soft neck varieties (A. sativum var. sativum) have a flexible stalk that is an addition of the papers that wrap the cloves. These varieties rarely produce a seed stalk & tend to perform better in mild climates, though some varieties have been bred to thrive in cool climates. Soft neck varieties are normally more productive than hard neck varieties because the plant’s energy is being directed entirely to bulb formation in the absence of a seed stalk. Their flexible necks dry down quickly & can be braided or cut for sale. Soft neck varieties are often believed to have a longer shelf life than hard neck varieties, lasting six to eight months in storage.
Hard neck varieties (A. sativum var. ophioscorodon) have a stiff stalk that expands from the bottom plate of the garlic bulb to the top of the plant. This stalk generates a scape in early summer, which is a flowering head containing small, genetically identical cloves that can self-sow to produce the next generation. Most growers will eliminate these scapes to redirect energy underground, allowing for the larger bulb formation. Scapes can be cut above the top leaf at emergence & eaten or sold as a garlic substitute. Shelf life is variety dependent, but the hard neck selection tends to have less storage potential when compared to soft neck varieties.
Soft neck categories– Artichoke, Silverskin
Hard neck categories-Porcelain, Rocambole, Purple Stripe
Average Number of Cloves per Pound of Seed:
|Garlic variety||Average cloves per pound of seed.|
Soil preparation for Organic Garlic Planting:
Garlic benefits from rich, well-exhausted, near neutral soil, but can survive in a wide range of soil types. Soft neck varieties tend to be extra forgiving, but all garlic can succumb to rot when drainage is inadequate. A chisel plow or Yeoman’s plow can be used to ensure adequate drainage, particularly when set up to break up the soil at each row position. Alternatively, a cover crop rotation including tillage radishes & a high-yielding legume improve drainage and provide nitrogen credits. Garlic benefits from heavy fertilization 125 pounds of nitrogen, 150 pounds of phosphorous & 150 pounds of potassium per acre for maximum yields. Nitrogen must be applied at planting (75 pounds), at 6-inches of growth (25 pounds) & right before scape emergence (25 pounds). Compost can be applied to add fertility & organic matter, though it should be analyzed to better understand what is fertility it provides. Remember, before applying any fertility to a crop, soil testing should be done to ensure a suitable fertility application.
Garlic can be planted on bare soil or planted on plastic mulch in far northern climates. Black and green plastic mulches can help retain moisture & boost soil temperatures in the spring. In warm climates, bare soil production systems are recommended to ensure right soil temperatures for emerging garlic.
Organic Manures for Organic Garlic Planting:
Manure means adding essential nutrients to the soil as well as improving soil quality & its water-retention ability. Manure used in organic gardening comes from livestock animals such as cattle, chickens, horses, and sheep, although bat & bird guano are also effective organic fertilizers. Because manure can cause food-borne disease, use either composted manures or apply fresh manure well in advance 60 days or more of garden harvest.
Some of the Organic manures:
Sheep and Goat Manure: The droppings of sheep & goats contain higher nutrients than farmyard manure and compost. On average, the manure contains 3 percent N, 1 percent P2O5 & 2 percent K2O. It is applied to the field in two ways. The sweeping of sheep or goat sheds are placed in pits for decomposition & it is applied later to the field. The nutrients present in the urine are wasted in this process. The second method is sheep penning, wherein sheep & goats are kept overnight in the field and urine & fecal matter added to the soil is incorporated to a shallow depth by running blade harrow or cultivator or cultivator.
Oil cakes: After oil is extracted from oilseeds, the remaining solid section is dried as cake, which can be used as manure. Some of the oil cakes are Castor cake, Neem cake, and Mahua cake etc.
Peanut hulls manure: Peanut hulls are used in the development of livestock feed. It is known to improve productivity in terms of yield & thought to increase soil fertility. Peanut hulls use to be obtainable throughout the year; nowadays because of its intensive use in livestock feed, this kind of manure is no longer easy to find & therefore it has become very expensive.
Fish manure: It enhances plant growth & development of vegetative parts much faster than other manures. It improves plant resistance to pests such as nematodes and bollworms & quality of the fruits. Fish manure is suitable for crops like lettuce & onion.
The Soil pH level for Organic Garlic Planting:
Organic garlic needs good drainage & loamy, fertile soil. Amending the soil with organic matter such as compost, manure, leaf mulch & aged straw are highly recommended. Also, your soil needs to have a neutral pH level between 6 and 7. Soil preparation must be done at least a month or so before planting. We have originated that planting in raised beds works best. It’s important to revolve crops at least every two years.
Nitrogen: Garlic needs nitrogen than most farmers’ think, mostly during its initial growth phase as it emerges & spreads its leaves. Adding organic manures, such as cow & poultry, are a great way to add nitrogen.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus is required for optimal root development.
Potassium: Enough potassium is critical for leaf growth & healthy bulb formation.
Sulfur: Sulfur compounds are directly related to garlic’s unique healing benefits & flavors. To add sulfur, sprinkle gypsum over your beds in the spring, after the plants have emerged & begun to leaf out.
Planting and growing Garlic:
Garlic is fairly easy to grow but normally does best in a cooler climate with a warm and dry summer. The major growing period is from planting in early autumn till harvest in early summer. In its original habitat, it starts to grow in late winter & early spring, with the snow melt and then creates a bulb & dies back to survive the harsh dry summers.
The Blue Mountains in NSW (New South Wales) are an ideal mild or cool temperate environment to grow garlic. It gets cold & wet enough during autumn; winter and spring promote growth and also the required flowering triggers. Then it gets warm enough to promote the final bulbing procedure as the environment dries out in summer. The bulbing procedure is when the main single largest growth at the base of the leaves starts to separate the leaf bases into individual cloves & matures for hibernation underground until the next autumn.
Garlic tends to adjust to the local climate over a few years and so it is good practice to grow your own & then save some for growing the following year. What starts out as a fairly ordinary garlic variety will often acclimatize over a few years & become an excellent one in flavor, quality, size and ease of growing. It generally does not produce viable seed & has to be reproduced by replanting the individual cloves each year. In fact, several garlic varieties rarely even send up a flower spike.
When planting out the heads need to be divided into individual cloves which are planted with some space between them to allow for them to expand in size. If you leave a garlic bulb or head in the ground for the following season normally they will get smaller each year due to lack of space. The cloves are generally best planted before they start to sprout. When you split the garlic heads apart be careful not to damage the thin base layer where it is attached to the base plate of the head as this is where the roots emerge & grow from.
Plant the cloves as shallow or deep as you like as they are fairly adaptable, however, a general guide would be about 2 to 3 cm below ground level. The first garlic clove leaf is designed to penetrate the soil above & any mulch that is in the way. So if you put heavy mulch layer on top can plant them closer to the surface. Garlic has a curious protective root system that gradually pulls the bulb lower into the ground every year, unlike onions & Alliums in general that generally push the bulbs upwards. The roots are fairly thick and are generally up to about 40cm long & grow in a fan shape down into the ground from the main bulb. Plant them up to about 10 to 15cm apart and still get a good sized head forming at the end of the season. However up to about 20 to 30cm apart is ideal for weeding & allowing the bulbs to form at maximum size.
They do not like competition while growing & it is best to keep them weeded and without other plants growing too close to them. By placing a significant layer of loose mulch over & around them. Lucerne, straw or sugar cane mulch is excellent for this.
Organic fertilizers for Organic Garlic Planting
Organic gardeners must apply compost as the primary fertilizer in addition to using it as a soil conditioner. Sandy soil in coastal areas, particularly benefits from the improved tilth that adding compost or humus gives the soil. It helps the soil retain moisture, improving the delivery of nutrients to the plants. Packaged organic fertilizers are labeled with the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) ratios & instructions for using the product. Create a custom fertilizer blend. Organic sources of nitrogen are blood meal, bone meal supplies calcium and phosphorus, and potassium is available in hardwood ashes, kelp meal & mined sources such as greensand, potassium sulfate, potassium chloride or granite dust.
Apply additional organic fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks by side-dressing the garlic plants. Kindly working the fertilizer into the soil beside the plants. You can also dissolve organic fertilizer in water & apply it through a drip irrigation system or use a nitrogen-rich solution for foliar feeding. Garlic uses potassium best during soil applications.
Some of the Organic fertilizers:
Organic fertilizers are resulting from naturally occurring substances, such as plant or animal byproducts and mineral rock, whereas inorganic fertilizers are synthetically manufactured. Besides adding required nutrients to the soil, organic fertilizers develop soil structure & water drainage, which most plants rely on for healthy growth & development. Organic fertilizers are obtainable in many forms, including compost, manure, marine by-products, meals, minerals & mulch.
Neem for soil fertility and fertilizer management:
Indian farmers have used de-oiled Neem cake as a fertilizer in their fields. The dual activity of Neem cake as fertilizer & pest repellent has made it a favored input. Neem leaves have been used to enrich the soil. Together, they are extensively used in India to fertilize cash crops. When Neem cake is ploughed into the soil, it protects plant roots from nematodes and white ants. Farmers in southern parts of India puddle neem leaves into flooded rice, ground before the rice seedlings are transplanted.
Application of the Neem seed cake to crops provides them with different nutrients. The Neem seed cake reduces the number of soil insect pests, bacteria, and nematodes & protects the crop from damage caused by these organisms. Neem seed cake can reduce alkalinity in the soil by producing organic acids when mixed with the soil.
Blood meal is dried, powdered blood composed from cattle slaughterhouses. It’s such a rich source of nitrogen that gardeners have to be careful not to over-apply & burn the roots of their plants. Apply blood meal before planting to stimulate green leafy growth.
Bone meal is finely land bone. A by-product from animal slaughterhouses, it is a great source of calcium & contains up to 15% phosphate. Bone meal promotes strong root systems & flowering. It is often used when growing flowers, bulbs & fruit trees.
Bat guano is sheltered by caves from leaching, so nutrients are conserved. It is rich in soluble nitrogen, phosphorous & trace elements. Generally powdery, bat guano may be used any time of the year as a top dressing or diluted in a tea and used as a foliar spray.
Shellfish fertilizer or shell meal is made from the crushed bones from crab or other shellfish. It is a great source of calcium in addition to phosphorus & many trace minerals. One benefit of shellfish fertilizer is it contains chitin, which encourages the growth of organisms that inhibit harmful pest nematodes.
Rock phosphate is calcium or lime-based phosphate rock that is generally ground to the consistency of small crumbs. This rock powder contains over 30% phosphate & a large number of trace elements. Rock phosphate does not leach out of the soil, lasting unchanged until taken up by the roots.
Greensand is an iron, potassium silicate that the minerals in which it occurs a green tint. Mined from an ancient New Jersey sea bed deposit of shells, Greensand is rich in iron, potassium & numerous micronutrients.
Irrigation required for Organic Garlic Planting:
Garlic needs a continuous provider of moisture when it is actively growing. If the ground is dry, one inch of rainfall per week or the equivalent in irrigation is required for best garlic growth. Drip irrigation or trickle irrigation is recommended. Using mulch lay the drip irrigation lines after planting & before mulching in the fall. Stop irrigating at least 2 weeks prior to harvest.
Weed management in Organic Garlic Planting:
Garlic is a poor competitor against weeds, so obtain proper steps prior to planting to minimize weed pressure. Using stale bedding for 2 to 4 weeks prior to planting & using clean; weed-seed-free straw mulch can greatly decrease weed pressure. Can remove mulch in the spring to allow for mechanical cultivation, though irrigation needs can increase as a result.
Common Pests in Organic Garlic Planting:
Wireworms – These yellowish brown larvae (1–1.5 inches) feed on roots and bulbs of garlic, leaving holes & imperfections, reducing marketability. Wireworms are normally found in the fields recently converted from pasture, so wait a year to plant into the recently transitioned ground to prevent outbreaks.
Onion maggots – These small, white maggots that mean five millimeters bore into garlic stems, causing plants to wilt and die. Remove affected plants immediately. Long rotations (a minimum of 3 years) with other alliums are the most useful control.
Stem and bulb nematodes – Infestation of these nematodes causes deformation of garlic leaves & stems, resulting in stunted growth and death. Nematodes survive in plant tissues, so removal of residues & proper rotations with nonhost species can prevent issues.
Common Diseases in Organic Garlic Planting:
Garlic is a host to a number of diseases that can be problematic for Midwestern producers. Growers can handle most of these diseases using extended rotation schedules & proper handling techniques. Carefully inspect seed stock to make sure cleanliness. Source seed through reputable growers to avoid the importation of pest & diseases. Some common diseases contain:
White rot – This fungal pathogen (Sclerotium cepivorum) causes yellowing of leaves & stunted growth and crop loss. Most normally seen in springtime in cool climates, white rot can be a devastating disease. It can be controlled using long rotations & pure seed.
Basal rot – This fungal pathogen (Fusarium spp.) naturally affects plants that are already weakened, causing yellowing leaves, stunted growth, a decay of roots & reduced storage potential. Rogueing out infected plants & proper rotation techniques is effective controls of Fusarium.
Blue mold – This fungal pathogen (Penicillium spp.) can be problematic in field & storage conditions, causing early mortality of emerging plants. Plants that survive the disease can show a blue-green mold on cloves, which can transmit the disease to the next generation & throughout storage facilities. The best control for this disease is ensuring clean seed stock at planting & destroying infected bulbs.
Harvesting of Garlic:
Hard neck garlic, as it grows, will start to form scapes with bulbils. The scapes can reduce the yield of garlic. It is because the plant is using energy to form the bulbils that can have gone into the formation of the bulb. Remove the scapes before they start to curl by snapping them off at the top leaf. After removing the scapes are sure to save a few for eating. Scapes can be used in any number of recipes & are also well chopped like chives raw in soups and salads.
When the garlic plant has three to four browned leaves it is ready to harvest. To avoid damaging the outer skins, always use a shovel to carefully eliminate the garlic bulb from the earth, don’t just pull it out. Gently remove the dirt from the roots & outer skin, but don’t remove the outer skin. It is best to harvest when the temperature is cool, also early morning or late evening.
Curing and storing Garlic:
Bundle the garlic plants with twine & hang to cure. Choose an area with good circulation & out of direct sunlight. Curing garlic will take three to four weeks. It is ready when cutting the first stalk. If garlic juice oozes from the stalk, it’s not moderately ready. Once the garlic is cured, cut off the stalk, leaving 11/2 to two inches. Trim the roots to 1/4 inch & gently brush off the outer layer of dirt being careful not to peel off the outer skin.
If storage is required, garlic should be cured properly. If moisture is released from a cut stem when squeezed, the garlic is not completely cured. Cure garlic by hanging it in bunches, by forcing air during bulk containers, or by laying it out on racks or on the floor. Optimal curing conditions are 75–90 °F & 60–75% relative humidity. Depending on the curing conditions, the process can take three days to two weeks.
Some growers will power wash garlic postharvest to decrease the amount of dirt on the papers before curing. This can result in cleaner papers & less handling after curing, though care must be taken to avoid damaging bulbs. If adequate layers are present, and the process of marketing benefits from cleaner looking bulbs, remove an outer layer of papers prior to drying and curing. Most growers leave the tops intact while curing, though trimming the tops can speed curing & reduce handling after curing. Proper sanitation is very important when trimming prior to curing to avoid the introduction of pathogens into cut tissues. Using circulation fans or supplemental heat to speed curing time is particularly valuable in areas with high humidity. After the leaves have dried & papers have shrunk to the bulb, trim the garlic tops and roots to the desired length. Store in clean boxes or mesh bags at 32–35 °F and 65–75% relative humidity. Store garlic reserved for seed at slightly warmer temperatures, ranging from 40 °F – 50 °F. The garlic must be stored in a cool, dry place 50 to 60 degrees is an ideal temperature. A root basement is a good storage place. Remember, when choosing which garlic to eat first, always eat the main first, the smaller garlic bulbs store better.
The yield of Garlic per Hectare:
In garlic 50 to 70 quintals per hectare yield is obtained.
Health Benefits of Garlic:
Garlic is highly nutritious, although has very few calories
Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron & vitamin B1.
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Prevention of heart disease:
Consuming of garlic on a daily basis (in food or raw) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the anti-oxidant properties of Allicin. It is also hugely beneficial to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It is essential to remember that the sulphur-containing compound Allicin will lose its medicinal properties when garlic is cooked whole. It is very important to consume garlic raw or semi-cooked to derive any of its benefits.
Anti-bacterial and Anti-parasitic:
Garlic is one of the greatest kept medicinal treasures of the past era – it has been used as an antibiotic to treat bacterial, fungal & parasitic infections for the last 7,000 years. Diluted garlic extract helps children with tapeworm infections. A garlic-based mouthwash may not sound like fresh, minty breath, but a small quantity of its extracts is sufficient to ward off cavity-causing bacteria.
For skin and hair:
Garlic protects the skin from the effect of free radicals & slows down the depletion of collagen which leads to loss of elasticity in aging skin. Applied topically, garlic does wonders to skin polluted with fungal infections & provides relief from skin ailments like eczema. It is an effective remedy for fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ringworms. Rubbing crushed garlic extract on the scalp or massaging with garlic-infused oil is known to prevent & even reverse hair loss.
Read: Thyme Farming.