So you’re thinking of a sustainable way to supplement your diet with greens and you’ve been…
So you love garlic but don’t have a big yard to grow it? Or maybe you just find it too exhausting to go out to water your garlic crop every day through the summers. Whatever the reasons might be, what you really want to know is this: Can you grow garlic indoors?
Yes, you most certainly can! But let’s be realistic. While harvesting garlic greens within a few weeks is quite practical, don’t expect the best results if you’re growing it for the bulbs. Growing garlic bulbs takes a long time, 6 months or more, and requires plenty of sunlight to grow bigger and juicier.
Even if it’s a bit hard to grow full-sized garlic bulbs indoors, the endless supply of garlic greens for garnishing soups or pasta, or adding to stir-fries is reason enough to learn how to grow garlic indoors. With a subtle garlicky flavor and aromas, they make a delicious addition to your dishes. With a little extra effort, you may even be harvesting garlic bulbs in a few months.
When To Plant Garlic Cloves Indoors
Garlic cloves are typically planted in the fall when it’s cold outdoors. If they’re grown through the winters, you may be able to harvest bulbs by spring.
However, it’s never too late to start growing garlic. Even if you’ve missed the prime season, you can plant garlic anytime. The sprouts will appear soon and will be ready for snipping in two to three weeks.
Planting in the fall is only important to get the biggest bulbs, as you would find at the farmer’s market. The green tops will grow just as nicely, no matter when you plant the cloves.
How To Grow Garlic Indoors
It’s a rather simple project, but if you’re growing garlic indoors for the first time, you may want to follow the recommended technique. Follow these guidelines to learn how to grow garlic indoors:
Material You’ll Need
- Garlic bulb
You can use garlic bulb available at the produce section of grocery stores or the farmer’s market. Typically, garlic at the store is sprayed with growth inhibitors to prevent them from sprouting. Try to find organic garlic, or look for a bulb that’s already sprouting. Alternatively, you can also purchase seed garlic from the nursery. Seed garlic is large, disease-free cloves that are grown into bulbs.
Softneck varieties are a better option for growing indoors since you won’t need to chill it before planting. If you grow hardneck varieties, you’ll need to chill it in the refrigerator for at least a month before planting it, to get the best bulbs. All types will work fine for growing garlic greens, whether or not you chill them.
You can use a regular clay pot to grow garlic. Since the plant has shallow roots, a container that’s at least 6 to 8 inches deep will work fine. Also, if you’re planning to harvest the bulbs, you’ll need the pot to be wide enough to leave 6 inches of space between cloves. Window planters work best for the purpose. If you’re just growing it for garlic greens, you can plant lots of cloves close together in a small pot. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom. If there aren’t, you’ll need to drill some before planting.
- Soil Mix
You can use a standard potting mix to grow garlic. You can also incorporate some compost or balanced fertilizer if the potting mix doesn’t already include it. Adding perlite or vermiculite will improve the soil texture, making it lighter for good drainage.
You’ll need a slow-release balanced granular fertilizer to incorporate into the soil mix at the time of planting. Liquid fertilizer, like fish emulsion or seaweed, is best for feeding during the growing season.
Steps To Grow Garlic
Now that you’ve collected all the supplies, it’s time to learn how to grow garlic in pots indoors. Here are the steps you’ll follow:
- Get the container ready
If the drainage holes are large, cover them with pebbles, coffee filter, paper, or clay shards so that the soil isn’t washed out. Fill it with potting mix to about 2 inches from the rim.
- Get the cloves ready
Now you have your container ready to be planted. Next, you’ll need to prepare the cloves for planting. Split open the garlic bulb and brush away excess dry skin. Don’t peel the cloves; leave the papery skin on them since it keeps them protected from damage. Choose the largest, healthiest cloves to plant. Discard all those that have started decaying or are soft.
- Plant the cloves
Push the cloves 2 to 3 inches deep into the soil, pointy side up. Make sure the cloves aren’t visible above the ground. If you see the tips peeking out, cover them with ½ inch layer of soil.
You’ll need a 6-inch spacing to grow garlic bulbs. However, you can start by planting the cloves closer together, 2 inches apart. Once they grow a few inches tall, you can pull out some seedlings to leave space for the rest to grow into larger plants. The seedlings can go into your meal.
Water the soil slowly, right after planting. Water enough that moisture comes out through the bottom of the pot.
- Find a sunny spot
Find a sunny spot for your garlic pot. A South or West facing window that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight is best for the plants. If you don’t get ample sunlight in your home, consider purchasing grow lights. Just maintain the natural light cycle, by keeping the lights on during the daylight hours, and off during night hours, and your plants will do just fine.
Care Tips For Your Indoor Garlic Plant
Now that you know how to grow garlic indoors, you should also learn some care tips to keep the plants thriving. Here’s what you should know:
Water regularly, to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Overwatering is very damaging to garlic plants since it can rot the developing bulbs under the surface. A good practice is to poke your finger into the soil to see if it’s dry just below the surface; that’s when you’ll need to water.
Garlic takes a long growing season so it will need regular feeding to develop optimally, whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors. Once the seedlings are about 6 inches tall, fertilize them twice a month with liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer months.
- Snipping garlic greens
The green tops will be ready for being snipped once they’re at least 4 to 6 inches tall. With the right soil and optimal care, this should happen in around 3 to 3 weeks. When snipping the greens, always leave at least an inch of growth so the plants can photosynthesize and regrow.
- Digging garlic bulbs
Garlic bulbs will take much longer to develop. Depending on the climate and the variety you’re growing, expect a waiting time of anywhere between 6 to 10 months to harvest the bulbs.
When the leaves stop growing and start turning brown, stop watering the plants. In a few weeks, the shoots will dry out completely. Now you can dig out the bulbs, taking care not to damage them.
Use them in the kitchen right away or store them in a cool, dark place to use over several months.
How To Grow Garlic Indoors In Water
Next thing you may want to know is this:
Can you grow garlic indoors in water? Yes, that’s possible too!
In fact, its quite easy to grow garlic in water and gives loads of fresh sprouts for garnishing your recipes. Not to mention, it looks lovely sitting on your kitchen window.
So how to grow garlic indoors in water? Let’s find out.
- Clear glass, cup, or any other container
Steps To Growing Garlic In Water
- Sprout the cloves
Separate the cloves from garlic bulb, keeping the papery skin in place. Wrap them in moist paper towel and leave them in a warm location. They’ll start sprouting in 2 to 3 days.
- Plant it in water
Place it upright in the glass, the pointy spouted side facing upwards. A shot glass is best for growing a single clove. If you have a broader cup, you can poke toothpicks in the garlic to keep them standing upright. Just add enough water to cover the bottom of the garlic.
- Place it in the sun
Place it on a sunny windowsill and change its water periodically, as soon as it starts turning cloudy.
- Harvest the greens
You can start harvesting the tops once they’re at least 3 inches tall. Only remove a third of the shoot each time so that it can regrow for more harvests.
So you’ve learned how to grow garlic indoors in water, and also in soil. Among the two options, you can grow it however you like best; it will turn out to be a wonderful experience either ways!
Here’s a garlic soup recipe to try: