Beloved by the Romans, used to add distinctive flavor to everything from curries to chilli, garlic (allium sativum) is now the most popular veg to grow in the US at this time of year.
The number of people who want to learn how to grow garlic is on the up, according to gardening guru Jessica Damiano’s (opens in new tab) analysis of recent Google trends data collected by a gardening website All About Gardening (opens in new tab).
'I compared Americans’ interest in growing garlic with interest in growing other fall-planted bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus,' says Jessica. 'Surely, colorful blooms would trump the spicy, pungent vegetable.
'No. When people used the search term 'how to grow...' garlic was again the frontrunner when compared with those spring bulb plants.'
Why is garlic the most popular fall-planted crop?
Thomas McGee, owner of Pinch Spice Market (opens in new tab), an online organic spice company, says that recent interest in growing all kinds of veg at home is leading to the popularity of garlic.
'Most of the garlic consumed in the US, whether fresh or dehydrated, is produced in China, I believe something like 90 per cent or more. But we get a lot of people that are looking for garlic grown in the USA now.'
Garlic bulbs are readily available at Amazon (opens in new tab) and other online retailers, as well as at your local garden center, and planting them in a raised garden bed or kitchen garden couldn't be easier.
Choose the right variety for your climate
If you’re interested in planting garlic, always choose the variety that’s best for your climate. There are two kinds of garlic. Hardneck garlic is suited to cooler northern areas in the US, and softneck is the choice for warmer climates.
Softneck garlic, distinguished by several rows of smaller cloves, tends to store better than its hardneck cousin.
'Each household has its preferred flavor and the homegrown option allows each to grow the crop in the flavor they prefer,' says gardener Miguel Palma, of Jardin Tienda (opens in new tab).
'This versatility is the reason the crop is the most homegrown of all other vegetable options in the US. It also helps that it is an easy crop to grow at home, hence many households find it easy to grow it themselves.'
To give your crop the best possible chance of success, consider planting some of the best companion plants for garlic alongside your fall-planted bulbs.
Swerve supermarket sorts
Garlic bulbs are cheap and easy to buy, but Jessica warns against planting those you find in the supermarket or store.
'Shop-bought garlic is often treated with growth inhibitors to prevent sprouting at the store and in your refrigerator. It also may not be the type best suited for your growing conditions.'
Will you give growing garlic a go this fall?
Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.
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