Garlic / Allium sativum is an important and popular bulb crop cultivated widely in Asia. India is the second largest producer of garlic in the world. Some Indian names for garlic are Lahsun, Losan, Rasuna, Ruhan, Lassun, Vellaipoondu, Vellulli, Bellulli, etc. It is an important spice and condiment in most Indian dishes.
The compound bulb consists of several cloves. It has excellent nutritional and medicinal value. Garlic is a rich source of protein, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and carbohydrates. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and is also known to prevent cancers. Hence regular consumption of garlic is highly recommended. The production and demand for garlic are high and this is due to its greatness and various nutritional and health benefits. There is no end to the benefits of garlic. Most people in India use it as home remedies such as simply popping a few cloves daily or having it with honey in the night before sleeping etc.
In India garlic is cultivated in Gujarat, UP, AP, MP, Orissa, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. Garlic is known to be excellent for the heart, and its preparations are administered as a cure for stomach disease, sore eyes, and earache. The improved varieties of garlic are Godavari, Sweta, Agrifound White, Yamuna Safed, Yamuna Safed 2, Yamuna Safed 3, Agrifound Parvati, Fawari, Rajli gaddi, G-41, Selection-2, and Selection-10. The Godavari was developed in Jamnagar and is pink in color. Its bulb consists of 25 – 30 cloves and yields 150 quintals/ha. Sweta was developed in Gujarat with the same number of cloves per bulb as the Godavari but a little lesser yield (130 quintals/ha).
Garlic can be grown in a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions, but it cannot tolerate extreme weather conditions. Hence moderate temperatures are best suited for garlic cultivation. For commercial purposes, garlic should be grown in fertile soils. Garlic is used in many dishes as mentioned before. Garlic and ginger used together as a paste in most of the cuisine across the country. The paste can be stored in the refrigerator for a month easily. Garlic is used as a seasoning in most curries, vegetables, dals, pulaos, sambars, rasam, etc.
Literally, everything has garlic in it. It is enjoyed in western dishes like pasta, pizza, cheese garlic bread, garlic bread, etc. A single clove can be pounded and mixed with garlic and fed to children at night before sleeping to avoid colds and coughs. Garlic can be eaten raw or sautéed in dishes. It can be pickled, crushed, sliced, minced, pureed, and roasted. Either way, it has too many health benefits to avoid eating it.
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Nutritional value of garlic –
As mentioned earlier, garlic has dozens of health benefits, nutritional value and is used in medicines and Ayurveda.
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Process of growing garlic
⦁ Time of growing and climatic conditions –
Garlic can usually be grown in any climate, but moderate temperatures are best tolerated. It cannot withstand extreme weather conditions and the crop begins to suffer when it is either too hot or too cold. The crop requires shorter days and can be grown at elevations of 1300 m as well.
Garlic can be grown as a summer and winter crop. The best temperature range for garlic cultivation in India is 12 – 18 °C.
It can be grown in hilly regions in two seasons – June – July or October – November.
Garlic can be grown in a wet season starting from May to October and dry season as well starting from November to April. It does not tolerate too much rainfall.
⦁ Seed rate –
Garlic cloves are used to propagate garlic cultivation. Use only good quality cloves such as health and disease resistant ones. The seed rate is about 150 – 350 kg/ha.
Sowing is done by dibbling or furrow method. In the dibbling method, the field is divided into small plots convenient for irrigation Cloves may be dibbled 5 – 7.5 cm deep, keeping their growing ends upwards. They have been placed 7.5 cm apart from each other in rows of 15 cm apart and then they are covered with loose soil.
In the furrow planting method, the furrows are made 15 cm with hand how or a cotton drill. In these furrows, cloves are dropped by hand 7.5 – 10 cm apart. They are covered lightly with loose soil and light irrigation is given.
Cloves are sometimes sown 6 – 7 cm in depth by keeping their growing ends upwards. The plant-to-plant distance is 8 cm and the row-to-row distance is 15 cm generally. All the cloves are generally planted except the slender center one. Discard bulbs with side growth.
A hectare of land will require 400 – 700 kg seeds depending on the size and spacing. Usually, as a thumb rule, the cloves that are chosen for planting are the outer ones on the bulb. They can be soaked in insecticide or fungicide solution for at least 2 hours before sowing. Then they are dried a little and sown. The spacing is usually 15 cm x 15 cm to 20 cm x 10 cm.
⦁ Process –
Garlic can be cultivated in most soil types, but the best suited is sandy, silt, and clay loam soil. The soil must be fertile, well-drained and rich in organic matter. About 25 – 35 cartload tons of FYM is applied as a basal dose along with 60 kg Nitrogen and 50 kg each of Phosphorus and Potash. 45 days after planting 60 kg Nitrogen is applied again as a top dressing.
Avoid soils that are highly alkaline and saline in nature. The best soil pH value for garlic is 6 – 7. Land should be brought to fine tilth state by giving 3 – 4 ploughings. For commercial purposes, the soil must be tested before cultivation. After dibbling the cloves, cover the area with loose soil. In the furrow method, prepare the furrows with cotton drill. The cloves can be dropped by hand in the furrows. Cover the area with loose soil and give light irrigation for quick germination.
Sometimes land is prepared by tillage and sometimes without. The tillage method is similar to corn cultivation mentioned in our earlier article. The method without tillage is followed in lowland rice fields and if the soil is too wet, it is first allowed to dry and canals are built to avoid standing water.
Mulch can be applied before or after planting. Mulching materials such as rice, grass etc are used and spread evenly on the ground with a thickness of 3 – 5 cm. Mulching controls soil moisture and growth of weeds.
Irrigation depends directly on the soil type such as moisture level and holding capacity. First irrigation is carried out immediately after sowing. Subsequent irrigations are given 10 – 12 days later. Until the flowering bulbs appear, soil moisture should be maintained and once that stops, irrigations can accordingly be reduced. Last irrigation is given 3 days before harvesting.
In areas with heavy rainfall, ensure water is drained out. In the southern parts of India, garlic is cultivated as a rain-fed crop. Garlic produces 7 roots per plant and they are usually 59 cm deep and hence it is essential to see that they have adequate moisture during the vegetative growth. Clay loam soils are irrigated thrice. If cracks appear on clay loam soils, flash irrigation can be carried out. Water should not be allowed beyond 6 hours in the field. Crops can be inter-cultivated with garlic to avoid weeding.
⦁ Weed management and pest control –
Garlic is vulnerable to diseases and pests. First, weeding is done 1 month after sowing and the second one a month later. The weedings are done simultaneously with hoeing.
The Purple Blotch and Stemphylium Blight can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb @ 2.5 gm/liter of water every fortnight
The Cercospora Leaf Blight can be controlled by spraying ziram or captan @ 2 gm/liter of water or copper oxychloride @ 3 gm/liter of water fortnightly
Powdery Mildew can be controlled by spraying sulphur fungicides @ 2 gm/liter of water fortnightly
Mosaic disease can be controlled by spraying monocrotophos @ 0.5 ml/liter of water
Thrips can be controlled by spraying methyl demeton 25 EC 1ml/liter of water. Thrips can also be controlled by burning the infested leaves or spraying chemicals like Malathion or fipronil
Stem and bulb nematode can be controlled by pre-planting soil fumigation with dichloro-propene-di-chloropropane mixture @ 500 kg/ha
Mites are either mulch-borne or seed-borne and can be controlled by applying the appropriate chemicals
For any other insect or pest issues, please contact your local horticulturist
⦁ Harvesting –
Garlic crop lasts 4.5 – 5 months and harvesting are usually done when the leaves start yellowish. The plants are pulled out with country plows and bundled and kept in the shade for a few days. The bulbs can be stored a few days by hanging them on bamboo sticks or on the sand and then sold to the markets.
Well-cured garlic bulbs last in a well-ventilated room up to 2 months. If dust smoke is given, it can even last up to 10 months. The average yield is 6 – 8 tons/ha or 50 – 70 quintals/ha. The yield actually depends on place to place.
⦁ Benefits of garlic –
⦁ Garlic is used as flavoring or toppings in foods
⦁ Garlic acts as a blood purifier and can be used to controlled zits and pimples
⦁ Garlic cloves provide relief from colds and flu
⦁ Consuming garlic on a daily basis can lower cholesterol levels as it has antioxidant properties
⦁ It also regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels
⦁ It is used as an antibiotic to treat antibacterial and fungal infections
⦁ It is useful as a preventive measure for major diseases such as cancer, especially on regular consumption
⦁ It slows down aging skin as it contains free radicals and is also used to treat eczema
⦁ People suffering from hair loss can be benefitted by consuming garlic daily
⦁ It is also used to treat splinters
⦁ The Allicin present in garlic has potent medicinal properties and is extremely good for health. That is one of the reasons that garlic is consumed so much
⦁ It has very calories and is good for weight loss
⦁ It contains Manganese, Vitamin C, B1 and B6, fiber, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, iron, Selenium, etc
⦁ The antioxidants present in garlic help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
⦁ Garlic promotes longevity
⦁ Garlic is popular as a performance-enhancing substance and is therefore good for athletes and sports persons
⦁ Garlic detoxifies heavy metals in the body
⦁ Garlic improves bone health
⦁ It prevents cardiovascular diseases
⦁ It also relieves intestinal ailments and strengthens the immune system
⦁ It is used to treat infections and UTIs
⦁ It helps improve eye if consumed regularly
⦁ It kills oral pathogens and helps reduce ear infections