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Grow Garlic – Feed Your Family & Your Wallet

Grow Garlic - Feed Your Family & Your Wallet | Making Her Mama
Grow Garlic – Feed Your Family & Your Wallet

We all know that feeding a growing family is expensive.  As moms we work hard to make sure that our food lasts for the week and that we’re making healthy choices.  One way to cut down on your grocery budget (especially during the summer months) is to grow a vegetable garden.  And one way you can earn extra income is to grow garlic!  Seem simple?  It really is…

 

Earn Cash Growing Garlic

 

Even if you live in the city and don’t have a lot of space, you can grow garlic!  It doesn’t actually take a lot of room.  Right now we have a strip of soil that is 2 1/2 feet wide and 13 feet long with 88 bulbs of garlic growing in it!

Where we live, garlic sells for around $3-4 a bulb.  My initial investment was just under $40 for the planting garlic.  (And that was high because I missed out on the seed garlic and had to buy the cream of the crop for a higher price!)

So for $40 I now have a crop growing worth just over $350!  And the work on it has been negligible so far.  There will be some time input once harvest season comes along.  Now, we don’t plan to sell all this garlic this year because I want to feed my family first.  And then I want to keep enough garlic to grow our next crop at no additional cost.

 

But what if you don’t have a green thumb?

 

Garlic is pretty easy to look after.  I even let the chickens out one day, not thinking, and they rummaged through my garlic patch flinging several bulbs here or there.  For days afterwards I was finding random garlic bulbs in the garden!  I just replanted them and they’ve all alive and growing!

 

So here’s what you need to know:

 

Prepare Your Soil


  • garlic will grow in most soils
  • it does best though in a well drained soil
  • add a decent amount of compost to your soil before planting
IMG_3940
On the left you can see our built up garlic bed.

 

Picking Seed Garlic


  • seed garlic are cloves of garlic sold for planting (not seeds as I originally imagined!)
  • there are many varieties to choose from
  • most garlic is planted in the fall for a July harvest

 

Hardneck Garlic vs. Softneck Garlic


  • There are two major types of garlic; hardneck and softneck
  • Hardneck garlic has a flowering stalk that grow up from the middle, has a more intense garlic flavour and produces bulbils (tiny garlic bulbs from the flower that can be used for growing), and usually have a single layer of cloves ranging from 4-12 / bulb
    • Some common varieties include german white, german red, & russian red
  • Softneck garlic has a subtler flavour, lack the flowering stalk or “neck”, and produce a higher number of bulbs (around 8-20 per clove) that are irregularly shaped and in 2 or more layers
    • Most varieties found in your local supermarket are softneck
    • Some common varieties include early Italian Red and Nootka Rose

Choosing Varieties


  • As with all gardening; the best type of garlic to choose is one suited to your climate
  • Check with local nurseries to find out what grows best in your weather
  • Hardneck garlics tend to do better in climates with a cold winter and require a bit more care as they need to be hand planted right side up and their scapes need to be trimmed
  • Softneck garlics grow well in milder climates

 

Planting Your Garlic

Once you’ve picked your garlic(s) of choice, you have 2 options for planting; fall and spring.

 

Fall


  • Works well in areas that get a hard frost
  • Plant bulbs 6-8 weeks before the first frost date

 

Spring


  • A great choice for milder climates; planting in February or March – as soon as the soil can be worked

 

Planting Your Garlic


  • A few days before planting, break the cloves off the bulb – keep the papery skin around each clover intact as much as possible
  • Plant the cloves with the root (wide end that was connected to the base plate of the garlic) down and the pointed end pointing up
  • Plant cloves 2 inches deep and space them 4 inches apart
  • If you planted in the fall; lay a good layer of straw to mulch over top of the bed

 

 

IMG_1731
The garlic bed is on the right, mulched with straw for the winter.

Caring for Your Garlic

Once your garlic is in the ground there isn’t much you need to do for it.  Early in the Spring you will see the new shoots arise.  You also need to remove any mulch on the bed once Spring arrives.

Weeds


  • Garlic doesn’t like to compete – weed your bed regularly to achieve the biggest bulbs possible
  • Garlic loves nitrogen, so fertilize accordingly – watch for yellowing of the leaves – a sign that nitrogen is lacking
  • From mid-May – June when your plant is bulbing, water every 3-5 days
  • Cutting flower shoots in early spring helps to grow bigger bulbs

 

Pests


  • Garlic is pretty hardy and isn’t prone to much disease or pests
  • Garlic makes an excellent companion plant as it wards off many common pests (like aphids!  Plant garlic with roses!)
  • Watch for white rot – which affects all veggies of the onion family – to avoid make sure you rotate your planting sites from year to year

 

Harvesting Your  Crop

In Northern climates, crops are usually ready for harvest around July or August.  In Southern Climates it will depend more on your planting date.

 

How to tell when to harvest


  • Watch for yellowing of the tips of the leaves
  • Watch for the leaves to begin falling over
  • You want to harvest before the leaves are fully dried out
  • Check a bulb before harvesting – too early the bulb might be immature, too late and the wrapper may disintegrate

 

How to harvest your garlic


  • Loosen the soil around the bulb with a shovel or other garden tool – careful not to get too close to the bulb
  • Lift the plants from the soil and gently remove as much dirt as possible without disturbing the skin or wrapper

 

Curing Garlic


  • Garlic needs to be cured for storage
  • Hang garlic in bunches of 4-8 bulbs upside down in a shady area for about 2 weeks
  • Make sure each bulb has air flow all around it for adequate drying
  • Garlic is done curing when cloves crack off easily from the bulb, the wrapper becomes paper thin and dry, and the roots are dry

 

Storing Garlic


  • Remove as much dirt from the dried garlic as possible
  • Cut off the roots of leaves OR alternatively, use them to make a garlic braid
  • Watch this video by Michael Keida from Let’s DIY on making a garlic braid
  • Store in a cool, dark, dry place for several months

 

Uses for Garlic


Garlic is used for many reasons; including, flavouring food, improving health and immunity, disinfectant properties and pest control in the garden to name a few.  We love cooking with garlic and add it to many of our meals like Easy Omelets and Gluten Free Homemade breakfast sausage.

 

How to Make Money Growing Garlic


  • Determine what the price of garlic is in your area (ask a local farmer/homesteader or check for local garlic at a farmers market)
  • Set up a small roadside stand with garlic for sale
  • Sell to your friends and family (Homegrown garlic has incredible flavour! It will keep them coming back for more)
  • Sell at local farmers markets
  • Approach local mom and pop type shops to buy your garlic
  • Approach local restaurants (particularly the head chef) to supply them with garlic

 

So, growing garlic really is an easy way to provide your  family with a healthy healing food and stretch your budget a little further.  You don’t need a lot of space or any experience.  The start up costs are small.  I can’t wait to harvest our first crop and let you know how it goes!

Want to save this guide for later? Use this pin!

Grow Garlic - A how to guide to growing garlic to feed your family and make some extra money with this easy crop. Find out all you need to know for planting, caring for, harvesting and using garlic.

What about you?  Are you ready to grow some garlic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments
  • Debby says:

    I enjoyed your article – just might add a strip to our garden this fall, in Missouri. Thanks!

  • Mel says:

    I’ve been growing garlic for years, it’s so easy and the garlic tastes so much better than store bought. For the most part, deer will leave it alone which helps living here on Vancouver island. I let my scapes grow until they have curled once. I then cut them off so that all the energy goes into growing the bulb and not the flower. The scapes can then be used to make pesto, chopped up in a salad, cooked on a pizza etc. They taste great and are good for you.

    • Nadine says:

      I absolutely fell in love with homegrown garlic when a good friend grew some last year and i bought as much of it as i could! I just knew I had to grow my own!

  • This is a great guide on growing garlic. (That alliteration just came out, LOL!) I have a bed of garlic, too. Thanks for reminding me to go cut off those scrapes. Have you tried eating them or anything? I tried them years ago and wasn’t all that impressed, but I read of other people making use of them. I’m looking forward to roasting a head of garlic and spreading it, along with some butter, on some homemade bread. Doesn’t that sound yummy?!

    • Nadine says:

      Hey Michelle 🙂 I love alliterations! Almost as much as I love garlic! WE have been eating the scapes. I had scapes before and wasn’t a huge fan but thought I’d give it another go. Fresh is best! Use them within a few days of cutting. We’ve just been chopping them thinly and frying them up with mushrooms and onions! YUMMY!!!

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Nadine Best

I am a follower of Jesus, SAHM, THMer, and homeschooler to my 4 boys. I love to garden and am a wanna be homesteader. I also LOVE organizing.

  • Our neighbors are renovating this summer. There's been a lot of activity to keep my curious trio entertained. But the best was the excavator (or elevator as Mickey Blue calls it) that showed up ON HIS BIRTHDAY!!! #bestbirthdaypresentever Shout out to all the construction loving boy moms out there! Can I get a YEAH?!?! #boylife #boymom
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  • Our neighbors are renovating this summer. There's been a lot of activity to keep my curious trio entertained. But the best was the excavator (or elevator as Mickey Blue calls it) that showed up ON HIS BIRTHDAY!!! #bestbirthdaypresentever Shout out to all the construction loving boy moms out there! Can I get a YEAH?!?! #boylife #boymom
  • #captainunderpants .... well, captain #easyups LOL. Mickey Blue was given a pack for his 3rd birthday and Little Lou approves 😝 my boys are such hams, they are always making me laugh! I 💕 #momlife !!! What funny or sweet things have your kids been up to?
  • Isn't #lettuce cool the way that it grows up and out in a spiral fashion!?! This is our first time growing #iceberg lettuce - it's my hubby's favourite! We've had a weird year with growing lettuces, this one is enjoying the whole stretch of garden to itself because none of the other seeds have sprouted, even from the second seeding! I'm going to be potting some to start and transplant! I NEED LETTUCE (I ❤ salad). How's your lettuce doing this year? Got any #tips or #tricks for me?
  • One of the best things about #homeschooling is the chance for a deep and strong relationship between siblings that would otherwise have no contact with each other!! They're still siblings, they are great together most of the time but sometimes they drive each other crazy and push each other's buttons. But if they didn't have all the time together that they do I don't think I'd get near as many sweet moments like this, curled up on the couch together sharing a moment 💕 What heart melting moments have you had recently?
  • I had never seen a #potato flower before! Growing a garden is so much fun. I can't believe how much I've learned this year and how something can grow from almost nothing. Our #Russianblue potatoes are doing so well - I can't wait to dig them up at the end of the season and see if the beauty below the ground will be as rewarding as it's been above!  Anyone else got potatoes in the garden? What variety did you pick?
  • http://www.makinghermama.com/grow-garlic-feed-your-family-your-wallet/  #ad via @RiplApp
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