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Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Garlic For Improved Health & Vitality

Summary:

Store bought garlic is bred for shelf life, not flavor or nutrient density. Luckily, growing nutrient dense garlic varieties takes very little time and effort. You can grow enough garlic for a whole year in just a 4’x 6’ (1.2 x 1.8 m) garden bed. Discover how to grow your own garlic, bursting with flavor and nutrients for your health and vitality. Plus, get the pro tips on how to maximize your garlic nutrition.

Garlic is an ancient remedy

Garlic is one of the world’s oldest cultivated agricultural crops and has been used for centuries to treat a vast number of diseases and ailments. From malaria and meningitis to tuberculosis and typhoid fever, garlic has been recognized as a powerful healer throughout time in cultures across the globe.

There was a time when people hoped to cure misunderstood ‘evils’ with garlic and other alliums. Today, scientific studies are confirming many of these ancient medicinal remedies. More on the allium family and some of their benefits here.

Of all the alliums, garlic single handedly wards off more ‘evils’ than any other vegetable or herb. It’s no wonder it was revered to have magical properties.

Why Grow Garlic When You Can Buy?

Flavors You Can’t Find at the Store: Grocery store garlic is bred for one thing: shelf life. While this is helpful for food being transported hundreds and thousands of miles, the cost of breeding for shelf life is a loss in flavor. In addition, there’s not a lot of variety at the grocery store. They carry one of three typical varieties. However, when you grow your own garlic, you can choose from over one hundred different varieties and flavors.

Health and Disease Prevention You Can’t Buy: Studies show a direct correlation between flavor and the presence of nutrients for many foods. That great garlic flavor is an indicator of more nutrients and therefore more health for you. Allicin is just one of the many active compounds in garlic that supports your health. You can read the amazing benefits of allicin here.

You don’t need to settle for less. Enjoy superior flavor and health when you grow your own garlic. Plus, it’s easier than you might think!

How To Grow Flavorful and Nutrient Dense Garlic

When inviting plants into your life, it’s important to remember that plants want to thrive. They do whatever it takes to grow strong and turn to seed for the next generation of plants. Your role as a caretaker is to provide the best conditions for your plants to flourish. Here are the eight considerations when growing garlic.

1. Growing Garlic: A Great Choice for Busy Growers

Unlike other annual garden veggies and herbs, most garlic grows from fall, through winter and all the way to summer. Growing garlic takes very little maintenance so it’s great for busy people. Once garlic is in the ground, the only thing you may need to do is mulch before temperatures freeze. Then curl up with a cup of hot tea and take the entire winter off. That’s right, nothing left to do but wait until harvest in late spring, early summer!

2. Choosing the Right Garlic for Your Climate 

Hardneck and softneck varieties can be grown in colder climates, but if you live in a warmer climate, you’ll want to choose a softeneck variety. For more on choosing the right variety, grab your complimentary printable Garlic Growing Guide here.

Sow garlic at the beginning of your cool season. Hardnecks need the first four to six weeks of growing to be between 32-55°F (0-12°C). Softneck and warmer tolerant garlic varieties can be planted in warmer temps, but need to be below 80°F (23°C) for the duration of their growth. 

Garlic sprouts should be at least 6-8” (15-20cm) tall before temperatures drop below freezing. When sprouts are at least 6” tall, mulch the garlic bed with a light material, like organic straw to protect it through the winter. You can also use mulch to keep the soil cooler in warmer climates.

3. Your Garlic Plants Want 6-8 Hours of Sunlight  

Without proper sunlight, your garlic plants cannot photosynthesize properly. Because sunlight hours change through seasons, you’ll want to make sure that wherever you plant your garlic it is getting 6-8 hours of full sun from fall through summer and up until harvest time. 

4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food 

Health starts underground. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure it is well draining with plenty of fertility. Keep your fertility levels up by adding a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season.

5. How Many Garlic Plants in How Much Space? 

You don’t need a lot of growing space for garlic. You can grow enough garlic to savor year round in one 4’ x 6’ (1.2 x 1.8 m) garden bed. And that one garden bed can give you much more of that cherished garlic flavor beyond the bulbs. 

Before your garlic head fully matures, grab an early harvest with hardneck varieties. Hardnecks produce edible shoots on the top of the plant called ‘scapes.’ Simply cut the scapes when they are between 6-10” (15-20cm) long and enjoy them raw or cooked. They make a delectable addition to sautees!

PRO TIP: in the early spring, plant lettuce between the rows of garlic. Your garlic and lettuce will be ready to harvest at the same time, so you get two crops out of the same space. Plus your planting bed will be clear to plant summer crops.

6. Watering for Perfect Garlic Harvests

When you first plant your garlic, water 1” (3cm) per week until leaves emerge. Then, reduce watering. No need to water once temperatures go below freezing.

When the ground thaws, water 1” per week in temperatures of 60-70°F (15-21°C) and 2” per week in temperatures of 70-80°F (21-26°C). 

PRO TIP: Watering less often and more thoroughly is best. 

7. Harvesting and The Secret to Getting Superior Garlic Harvests

Harvesting garlic is easy! Your garlic is ready for harvest when lower leaves turn brown and papery. Using a digging fork, gently insert the digging fork into the soil and lift the garlic heads from soil. 

But you don’t have to wait until the garlic is mature to start harvesting. Aside from the scapes of hardneck varieties, you can enjoy delicious fresh spring garlic by harvesting before maturity and cooking immediately.

Important Tip When Growing Garlic: The secret to getting superior garlic harvests is to save the largest, healthiest bulbs for planting next year.

8. Curing and Storing Your Garlic 

Once you’ve harvested your garlic, gently brush off the excess dirt. Never wash harvested garlic or get the bulbs wet as this can cause your garlic to mold. Hang your garlic or lay on a wire rack out of sunlight for 2-4 weeks in temperatures of at least 80ºF (26ºC). In colder climates, curing can be done indoors. 

Once cured, cut the stems off and peel the very outer layer of skin off the bulbs. Store in a ventilated, dark, dry area at 60ºF (15ºC). When garlic is cured properly, it will store for anywhere between 4-12 months, depending on whether you’re growing the hardneck or softneck variety. 

Limited on space? Container growing can help you see opportunities instead of limitations. You can customize your container garden to fit your space, budget, physical abilities, and lifestyle.
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Getting Started Growing Your Own Vegetable and Herb Seedlings

Seedlings are the baby plants you see at the nurseries, ready to be transplanted into your garden. But you might want to grow your own instead. While there are many benefits of starting your own vegetable and herb plants from seeds, there is one BIG reason why you might consider purchasing instead. Here’s the most important considerations for growing seedlings at home. 

Benefits to growing your own:

  1. You know exactly how the seedlings were grown. Ensure your plants are grown organically without any toxic chemicals entering your garden. When purchasing ask whether plants have been treated. 
  2. You ensure your plants immunity is high for a healthy life. Temperatures and conditions are important to baby plants, and stress at a young age can cause transplant shock or a weak plant that doesn’t yield well. Sometimes you bring home a seedling, plant it, and it dies. And you’re not sure if it’s something you did. But it could just be a plant that wasn’t cared for properly.
  3. You have complete control of when you put plants in the ground. When purchasing transplants, you are relying on what’s available at the stores. And what you want is not always there when you need it. Growing your own means you can plan ahead for your most abundant harvest.
  4. You have access to hundreds of varieties of vegetables. There are so many varieties of mustard greens and tomatoes on the planet that nobody could even tell you how many there are. And that’s true of most vegetables. Choose exciting varieties for flavor, yield, what grows well in your climate. 
  5. You save money. Once you get the hang of growing HEALTHY plants and you have all the supplies, you will save money. However, the first few years, planting your own can actually be more expensive than buying transplants. This is the one BIG reason you may want to purchase instead.

Three garden supplies essential to growing your own seedlings

You’ll need 1) growing medium (not soil), 2) containers to put it in, and 3) grow lamps if you’re growing indoors. We’ll focus on containers in this article. But real quick, our favorite growing medium is Fox Farm Ocean Forest, It’s got everything your plants need in one bag, from earthworm castings, bat guano, sea-going fish & crab meal to forest humus and moss. This mix will not disappoint!   Click here to get it on Amazon. And here is a bulk order option

This article is too short to include recipes for making your own mix. A couple key ingredients to include are perlite, vermiculite, peat moss or Canna Coconut Coir and Wiggle Worm – Worm Castings. For small gardens choose the 4.5-pound size. For larger gardens choose the bulk 30-pound option.

This is not a complete list, just some of our favorites to get you started.

Reusable Containers for Starting Vegetable and Herb Seeds


Generally, plastic trays are flimsy and end up in the landfill after just one or two uses. However, one farm is changing all that and helping to redefine our relationship to the Earth. Bootstrap Farmer offers durable trays with a one year warranty against warping and breakage… that’s amazing! Clean trays between use to prevent disease spread.

These are the best, longest lasting trays on the market. And they have different cell sizes available. Get cells for smaller varieties like lettuces here and get larger six cells for your larger transplants like tomatoes and cucumbers here.

Containers You Plant Right in the Ground

Avoiding plastic altogether?, Consider Fertilpots over at Arbico Organics which compost right into your soil. Plant the whole thing in your garden and avoid any transplant shock from handling the plant. Unlike many similar compostable products, they are OMRI listed meaning the ingredients have been tracked as organic. Fertilpots are breathable and help prevent roots from getting root bound, too. However, the downside is that you have to keep buying more.

“Soil Blocking” Eliminates the Need for Containers

Soil blocking is a process where you press your growing medium together into squares that hold together without the need for containers. Once you have the right equipment for this process, you never have to buy containers ever again. However, you do have a higher initial investment to get started.

There are benefits to this method: no cleaning trays, conserving growing medium, and providing optimal root health. The details of how to soil block effectively is the topic of another post. NOTE: You’ll need to mix your own special growing medium (not one that you can buy at a big box store), and a bit of time to get used to the process. 

Soil blockers are for anyone who wants to get away from plastic, has a little extra time and money, wants the healthiest seedlings and plans to garden long term. 

20 Cell Soil Blockers come in a hand held and stand up  versions. The stand up soil blocker is much easier on your wrists, shoulders and back. 4” Soil Blockers are the largest blocker available and are perfect for your larger transplants like tomatoes, gourds, cucumbers, eggplant, etc.

How do you make your garden decisions?

Ultimately, there are many garden choices you will make. Some questions to consider: What do you really have time for? What feels like the best environmental choice for you? And what amount of investment feels good right now? Whatever suits you and your lifestyle is the right choice for you. And that goes for making decisions about seed starting at home, too.  

Check out our NEW Garden Freedom Series Micro Course for more information and instruction on successful seed starting. In this course, you’ll find resources for setting clear goals that reflect your values and make gardening everything you need and want it to be…
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NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links and Grow Your Own Vegetables, LLC may be compensated when you click and purchase through the links above. By purchasing through these links, you’re supporting our mission to help green the planet and create food stable communities across the globe. We only recommend products we LOVE and that help growers on their quest for a fresh food lifestyle.

3 Empowering Benefits of Container Gardening

For countless reasons, from limited space or mobility to the local soil composition and length of growing season, container gardening can be an incredibly powerful tool if you wish to have a bodacious and diverse garden. We are going to walk through three of the core benefits of container gardening and how they can be used to create the exact growing conditions to accommodate your garden dreams.

These benefits become especially applicable where the green space is little-to-none, such as in apartments and large cities! Container gardening can be used for something as large as outdoor pots for planting fruit trees that may otherwise not thrive or even survive in your local soil or as small as a series of windowsill-dwelling potted herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and basil. With the right soil, container, and container gardening can offer most or even all of the benefits of a raised bed without the required construction or the relative permanence.

First, container gardening gives you the power to cater directly to a plant’s soil and nutrient needs without having to balance all the factors of remediating your native soil or building raised beds. The next core benefit is a vast one! Gardening in containers can help you get more out of your growing space, regardless of if that growing space is in a garden, on a concrete landing, in an empty lot, or in some found space inside an apartment. Finishing our list is the accessibility that container gardening provides to those with limited mobility.

1. Picky Plants!

Containers allow you to have various soil structures and to apply a specific combination of nutrients; therefore, you can accommodate for a more diverse selection of plants compared to what you can do with native soil. Exercising control over the soil structure and nutrients is one of your best tools for investing in your plant’s healthy growth and production. For example, if your native soil is alkaline, but you are looking to plant blueberry bushes that need acidic soil, then you can fill a suitable container with acidic soil while feeding an acidic nutrient blend to the plant. Through multiple seasons of carrot cultivation in the high clay content soil that we have in so much of the Pacific Northwest, our Director of Operations, Denise Beins learned that root vegetables like carrots and parsnips do best when given a looser soil structure.

Sunlight is another factor that you can have more control over with container gardening. As long as you have a way to transport them, plants grown in containers can be moved to follow the exact sun conditions needed as the seasons progress. Learning the right blend of soil, light, and nutrients for each plant you want to grow could prove overwhelming, so take care as to not to overburden yourself by trying to know each plant’s needs all at once! I recommend focussing on learning the needs of a couple or few plants per season. Pick your favorites, and after a few seasons you’ll have a proficient and well-rounded understanding for growing your ideal palette of plants. 🙂

2. Making the most of your garden space

Container Gardening Outdoors

Container gardening can help you get the most out of outdoor space! Added to the benefits of customizing your soil structure and nutrient mix, container gardening can make seemingly unusable land into a bountiful part of your garden! Areas that have been paved, laid with gravel or stones, or have low-growing ground cover or brush that could suffocate young seedlings can all become healthy growing space with an intentionally selected container, soil, and nutrient mix. Containers can also turn an apartment patio into a garden. You can even cultivate otherwise invasive plants, such as many varieties of bamboo and mint, without having that worry! Another fun idea includes companion planting mutually beneficial plants, or simply planting fun arrangements/combinations, such as a “Salsa Planter” with cilantro, perilla, hot peppers, and garlic chives.

Container Gardening Indoors

Indoor container gardening truly makes a night and day difference! For those without access to growing space otherwise, container gardening can be the difference of not being able to grow anything to being able to grow nearly any plant you’d like! Whether it’s sheer excitement to start cultivating your own garden or seeking access to whole fruits and vegetables, your local community is probably filled with testimonies of people experiencing the empowerment of having an indoor garden you can look to for inspiration. With GYOV, your online community will certainly have some sources of inspiration to share! Or maybe you have some container gardening experiences to share in the comments below? Please feel free to share that below and be a patron to some else’s garden motivation!

The most common examples of these include hanging gardens, windowsill gardens, and a seed starting station. Hanging gardens utilize a space to its fullest by efficiently utilizing the vertical space. Windowsill gardens bring the vivacious energy of the garden into your home, and their foliage can also help illuminate your home by reflecting sunlight into the space. A seed starting station can range from simple or elaborate; from a warming mat and a grow light on a side table to a wire rack arranged with warming mats, a grow light, air circulation, and a drip tray below to protect floors when watering.

3. Accessibility for gardeners with limited mobility

It is a common challenge for a gardener to come to a time in their life where they may have physical limitations from the methods they have used to garden. Whether it’s temporary from an injury or their body physically losing mobility with age, For those with limited mobility, there are many solutions for enjoying fresh veggies using container gardening!

One method is utilizing large, tall containers, measuring 2-4 feet off the ground, although these may require assistance to get started. These may be wood framed, large plastic or materials such as terra cotta (a couple options are showing below). One thing to consider is you may want these large containers to have wheels so they are mobile incase you can move according to the sun or for other reasons.

Another option is to incorporate some of the indoor gardening ideas mentioned above. You can grow lettuce, herbs and more in a windowsill and add fresh produce to your meals.

Using containers in your garden can expand possibilities for you so that you can achieve your garden dreams! There are lots of gardeners just like you (and us here at GYOV) who have found creative ways to enhance their harvest and enjoy the beauty that cultivating plants brings into your life!

Please share in the comments below ways that you’ve added ease into your gardening process with container gardening.

 

Growing Basil & Avocados: A Tale of Two Plants

Every single plant you decide to grow can make a huge difference in your life.

How about $1,000 in groceries per year from just ONE garden pot? It’s all about choosing the right varieties for your strategy and goals… That’s what makes growing food WORTH IT! So just how much of a difference can choosing the right plant make for you in a single year? Watch and find out!

And… discover an unexpected secret to making awesome pesto.

Unusual Edibles for Front Yard Gardening

There are many factors to consider when picking your plants each growing season.

One factor you might HAVE to deal with … does your neighborhood allow front yard gardens?

Here’s your chance to get inspired by some unusual yet stealth edibles.

Mason Bees: 5 reasons you want them in your garden

You’ve heard about the bee… but have you heard about the mason bee? There are approximately 20,000 known species of bee on this planet, and 139 of those species are mason bees. If you’ve never heard of them, let me fill you in a bit because these little critters are amazing! I think they are amazing… can you tell? Lol! I get excited about animals sometimes. Let me share a little and then let’s see if you are a little excited too 😉

Here are some of the reasons I love mason bees:

Mason Bees are a solitary species, meaning they don’t live in a hive. Most people think of a hive when they think of a bee, but that’s because the honeybee lives in a hive. The honeybee is the most well known, but it is definitely not the only bee. Mason bees are beneficial to us as gardeners because we don’t need to become beekeepers to enlist their help in our garden.

Mason Bees are non-aggressive and don’t sting. Whaaat? A bee that doesn’t sting? Yep, that’s correct. They can sting, but it’s incredibly rare. Honeybees have a queen and a hive to protect, and they will give their life to do so. Did you know that when a bee stings you they die? It’s true.. And sad! If they feel threatened, they will sting to protect their hive. Mason bees, however, don’t have a queen and a hive to protect… so they are nice and carefree. They are the safest bee around pets and children for this reason.

Solitary bees make up a little over 90% of the total bee populations. It’s true! The poor solitary bees… they don’t get any credit, yet they make up almost all the bees on the planet. Those honeybees get all the attention! You’ve almost certainly seen a mason bee and didn’t even know it.

Mason Bees get their name because of their use of mud, like a mason. This is so cool! Since they don’t have a hive to lay their eggs in, the females find natural holes or cracks in trees, logs, or any man-made structure they can. After they breed, the female starts laying her eggs in the back of the hole or crack. Then she packs in pollen and nectar for food and puts a layer of mud to section off that egg. Once the hole or crack is full, she then seals it with more mud to keep the eggs safe.

Mason bees have a 95% pollination rate vs. the honeybee’s 5%. Mason bees are the superheroes of the bee world. Honeybees collect pollen and nectar for their hive. Everything the honeybee gathers is literally for the hive. The mason bee, however, doesn’t have a hive to give the pollen and nectar to. For this reason, the mason bee carries more pollen on its body when it is traveling from flower to flower. Also, the mason bee is a very furry bee, meaning that it has more hair that the pollen sticks to. The combination of having a furry body and not needing to give the pollen to a hive sends their pollination rate through the roof!

OK… I’m checking in with you?…. Are you at least a little excited about these critters? They are kinda cool, right?

There are so many amazing animals on this planet. I truly believe that we can do a better job of living in balance with nature. The first step is learning about them! YAY! If you are reading this, it means you now know a little about the mason bees. The next step is to adjust what you are doing to help them thrive. It doesn’t always take huge effort to help many of the animals that live around us. Encouraging the mason bees to live in your yard and garden is a perfect example of that. To learn more about how to encourage mason bees to live in your garden, keep an eye out for our Friends In Your Garden micro-course coming soon.

 

Carrie Sylvester – Wildlife and Eco Educator
Carrie has lived and worked with animals her entire life. She is driven by a passion to help the animals and planet through her teaching. She began her professional career as a Registered Veterinary Technician. After spending a total of 10 years in veterinary hospitals, she returned to school to study Animal Training, Zoo Keeping, and Wildlife Education. In these three categories, she has had the privilege of working at the Los Angeles Zoo with the California Condors, training dogs and many exotic animals (including a Wolf and Mountain Lion), and providing hands-on live animal education programs to thousands of children. Following her dream of providing impactful education, she has been the director of a Zoo Day Camp for children and founded a non-profit organization. This passion has now met the world of gardening as she fulfills another dream… having a big, healthy, organic garden!