Onions and garlic: how to grow them at home and save a lot of money

Organic gardening is gaining momentum as more individuals opt for homegrown produce, with onions and garlic being popular choices. These members of the Liliaceae family, which also includes shallots, are not only culinary favorites but are also celebrated for their health benefits. You don’t need a vast garden to start; a small balcony and a few pots will suffice. Within approximately 6-7 months, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Growing garlic and onions at home is straightforward and rewarding. These edible bulbs are known for their distinctive flavors and health-promoting properties. If you’re keen on cultivating them, it’s crucial to understand the best planting techniques and care requirements to ensure a bountiful, high-quality yield.
How to Cultivate Onions and Garlic
Both garlic and onions, despite their differences in bulb production, share relatively simple care needs. They thrive in conditions that don’t require excessive watering but do need soil enriched with organic matter. However, overly fertile soil may lead to bulb rot.
Optimal Sowing Times and Soil Preparation
For Onions: Begin with seeds or bulbs. In regions with seasonal changes, plant onions in spring (March or April) or in autumn (September or October) for those in the southern hemisphere. Choose pots about 30 cm deep and wide, accommodating at least two onions. Opt for light, well-draining soil mixed with natural fertilizer.
For Garlic: Start with separating cloves from a garlic head. Use pots with drainage to prevent water logging, incorporating gravel for better water management. Plant cloves 10 cm deep, with the pointed end up, spacing them at least 8 cm apart. Garlic prefers direct sunlight and moderate watering, about once a week.

Growing Onions

Prepare the soil to be loose, neither clayey nor sandy, to facilitate free onion growth. For seeds, plant them about 2.5 cm deep and initially keep them indoors until sprouts appear, usually after a month.

Growing Garlic

After preparing the pot with drainage, place the garlic cloves appropriately and ensure they receive direct sunlight. The minimal watering requirement reduces the risk of excess moisture, which garlic does not tolerate well.

Harvesting and Storing

Onions: Can be harvested “green” for immediate use or left until the foliage withers for storage. The timing for harvesting red onions is when all leaves have dried, typically in July or August. White onions, planted in autumn, are ready by spring.

Garlic and Shallots: Wait until at least two-thirds of the leaves have dried, usually by late June or early July for garlic and grey shallots. Pink shallots are harvested in July or August. Proper timing ensures optimal preservation.

Growing onions and garlic at home not only provides you with fresh, organic produce but also adds a rewarding activity to your daily routine. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the numerous benefits these vegetables offer, from enhancing your meals to boosting your health.

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