Updated: Oct 24, 2021
Garlic is one of the most popular root herbs used in cooking, and easier than you think to start in containers. In fact, homegrown garlic is much more flavorful and has more health benefits.
If you have never seen a freshly harvested garlic bulb, then you might not know that garlic is actually a root vegetable! The young and green garlic scapes, the part that grows above ground, is also edible as a garnish for dishes or in salads.
Garlic has 2 varieties: hardneck and softneck.
Hardneck garlic is hardy enough to survive the winter season, so it is perfect for colder climates. this is the best garlic for growing in cold climates where cold winter temperatures are the norm. Softneck varieties are mostly grown in warmer places.
Here’s why garlic is perfect for fall container gardening:
1. Medicinal and health benefits: You might be surprised to learn that homegrown garlic has been found to have higher levels of allicin, the compound that gives garlic medicinal properties. Garlic has been proven to help in curing colds, regulating blood pressure and generally being good for heart health.
2. Easy to start: Planting garlic is a high reward for minimal effort. Garlic is easy to start, with a handful of garlic bulbs, you can start your garden and rep rewards in multiples. You can keep some of your harvests and replant them too.
You can start garlic with store-bought bulbs, putting the broad end into a shallow cup of water to root (or stick it directly into soil). This method does not guarantee flavor.
As always, it's best to buy garden stock from reputable nurseries that can give you different plant varieties and guide you on how to care for them.
3. Space efficient: You don’t need a lot of space to start garlic gardening, and it will thrive in a 12-inch container tucked into a sunny spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. The plant does grow bulbs, so you need to plant your garlic in containers deep enough to allow them to spread.
4. Minimal growth requirements: Garlic plant most important requirement for growth, apart from sunlight, is good drainage. This starts with your soil mix and making sure that the containers have adequate drainage and if frost-proof for winter. It should also allow evaporation. Many gardeners prefer to use portable grow bags, that can be moved during winter into insulating containers.
5. Great visual addition to container gardens: Garlic plants don’t take up much space, since all the growth happens in the soil. The green stalks are minimalistic addition to your garden scape, whether on a balcony or in garden beds.
6. Can survive a winter planting season: Garlic is hardy and overwinters well with a straw mulch and regular watering, surviving the inactive season to sprout in the spring. The plant grows through the fall and is ready for harvest in summer, so this is the perfect season to start your garlic garden. After planting, maintain moisture.
7. Used in cooking: We don’t need to tell you that garlic is delicious in all kinds of cuisine! There are so many varieties of homegrown garlic, that you are sure to have a great time trying out different flavors that range from spicy to earthy.