How to grow garlic

1.    Know more about this plant species

Garlic is one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet and an also an ingredient present in recipes all around the world. This plants can be consumed in two different maturity stages. When young and tender, the leaves grow rolled into a false stem that can be commercialized for human consumption. On the other hand, after a complete plant maturation, the dry cloves that are grouped underground forming bulbs are selected according to their size and sold also as part of the human diet. The scientific name of this crop is Allium sativum and belongs to the same family of some ornamental plants like narcissus flowers. It is a biennial plant, which means that the flowering occurs in the second year.

There principal varieties cultivated are spring, white and purple garlic. Spring garlic presents very large and flattened bulbs. It is harvested about a month earlier than the purple variety and its flavour is less intense. Similarly, the white garlic also present large bulbs but with a fewer number of cloves when compared with purple garlic. The purple garlic is the traditionally cultivated and consumed in the south of Europe and its significantly peculiar due to its intense spicy aroma and its high allicin content.


2.     Edaphoclimatic requirements

The number of cloves sowed and the disposition you choose for them will affect directly to their development. Individual cloves should be disposed from 15 to 18 cm apart and 2 to 5 cm deep. The sown rows are recommended to be between 25 to 30 cm distance for the best proficiency and to ensure sufficient aeration that prevent fungal growth.

Sandy loam soils are the preferred for this Allium sativum due to its capacity of holding moisture in dry seasons and drain well during wet periods. The plants development is improved when the soil presents high organic matter and a good fertility. To obtain the maximum benefits from your plants, you can find the best fertility advice using the SMART fertilizer software, that will provide you a personalized fertilization plan taking into account the specific characteristics of your crop. To grow your garlic plants properly, the amount of water needed is relatively small. The required humidity can be kept stable adding mulch on top of the plantation which will get decompose and condense the upper soil layers.

Related to the temperature, garlic plants can resist low temperatures and can achieve vigorous vegetative development with night temperatures below 16 ⁰C. Adult plants can also tolerate high temperatures, even over 40 ⁰C as long as the soil maintains enough moisture.


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3.    Harvesting and profitability

When cultivating garlic to commercialize dry bulbs some special procedures are required. Before harvesting the bulbs, to enhance its development, it is recommended to tie the leaves so they mobilize their nutrients to the bulbs. This procedure consists of making a common knot at the base of the false stem and leave it get dry still on the ground. It is important to wait two or three weeks after knotting the leaves and only harvesting the bulbs when the false stem is not wet, either by rain or irrigation. After digging up the bulbs, it is necessary to let them dry longer, for around 48 hours more. After that, they need to be classified according to their size for adjusting the sale price.

In average, the yield is between 12 to 14 tonnes per hectare and the average sale price after harvesting may varies from 0.2 to 1,10 €/kg. For a higher profitability, use the SMART fertilizer software and get the best fertilization program to obtain the biggest bulbs or tender garlic leaves with the best quality.



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