Garlic has an exceptionally long history steeped in both myth and fact. From the fictional use of repelling vampires, to the reality of antiparasitic properties, people have used the bulbs of the plant as medicine and food for thousands of years. Garlic (Allium sativum), a perennial in the onion family, originated in Asia, but gardeners grow it all over the world. With a small amount of growing and storage space, you can produce and save enough garlic for your kitchen and apothecary.
Prepare the planting bed in fall or very early in the spring in a location that receives full sun. Garlic grows best in loose, fertile and loamy soil. Bulb growth benefits from bone or fishmeal, fertilizer and compost. Dig compost and bone meal into the soil. For every 100 square feet, apply approximately 3 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Divide the bulbs into cloves. Select the largest, healthiest cloves to plant. Dig 1- to 2-inch-deep holes with a trowel. Place cloves in the ground 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart with the root side pointing down. Space rows about 1 to 2 feet apart.
Cover the cloves with dirt. Water thoroughly, soaking the soil to a depth of approximately 2 feet. Cover with a 2-inch layer of mulch to prevent weeds, since garlic doesn't perform well with competition.
Dig the garlic bulbs when the leaves begin to die off, usually around August. Use a shovel or garden fork to avoid damaging the cloves. Don't remove the leaves.
Dry the bulbs. Choose a location that has a normal room temperature. Place the bulbs on a screen or slotted tray to allow ventilation. Allow the bulbs to air dry for up to 4 weeks.
Cut the foliage off, leaving about 1 inch. Remove any roots. Dry brush any remaining soil off the bulbs.
Place the bulbs in a mesh bag for storage. Keep them in a location with temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees F and 60 to 70 percent humidity. Use the garlic within about 6 months.
About this Author
Kitten Arbuckle is a freelance writer living in Indiana. Arbuckle has been writing for websites such as Garden Guides since early 2009. Her education includes training in landscaping, certification in herbal medicine from a botanical sanctuary and a variety of college courses.