As someone who spent more than 23 years in the densely populated city of Mumbai, Milan Kumar never really had the chance to stay in an apartment that had ample space to carry out gardening.
“Even then, I’d grow vegetables and flowers using a method called square foot farming. In this method, a space of 9 x 9 feet is divided into 81 parts and a plant is grown in each spot. This is a common method used by urban gardeners,” Milan tells The Better India.
He continued to experiment in the available space and resources. Four years ago, after moving to his native place in Dehradun, Milan discovered a novel way to grow garlic cloves.
Garlic has the ability to help lower blood pressure. It is also known to solve digestive issues and contributes to the fine taste and aroma for many dishes.
“Garlic contains antioxidants that can help protect against cell damage and aging. It may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” reports Healthline.
“All you need set up a garlic garden are a few old plastic containers and baskets. While green garlic or garlic leaves can be grown in the container, the basket can be utilised to cultivate garlic as a whole,” he says.
Every year during October or November, Milan sets up the garden in containers, to which he has made some alterations. While a container of 8 x 5 inches has room for up to 160 green garlic cloves, a similar basket can hold up to 10 whole garlics.
He shares his step-by-step process to grow garlic:
- Take an old plastic basket with a wide surface area.
- Make holes in every corner of the basket to allow excess water to flow out.
- Fill it with the same mix of soil.
- Insert garlic cloves, leaving at least 3-5 inches in between so that they can grow well.
- Similar to the green garlic, place the pointed end of each clove towards outwards.
- Sprinkle water on every alternate day.
- In less than a month, you will spot sprouts. Give another 2-3 months for the garlic to grow fully.
- When the leaves begin to turn yellow, it indicates that the garlic is ready for harvest.
“Green garlic is also filled with an antioxidant called allicin which acts as an active ingredient in reducing cholesterol and inflammation. It can also prevent cold, cough and flu. The antioxidant is capable of boosting immunity. In our household, we use the leaves to make delicious green chutney by mixing coriander and mint. This goes well with rotis and can be used as a dip as well,” he explains.
“If you are planning to use a lot of green garlic, it is better to grow them separately. If we pluck many leaves from any plant, it may die or not give healthy fruit. Avoid doing that,” notes the gardener.
Steps to grow green garlic (garlic leaves):
- Take any plastic container which has a minimum width of 5 inches.
- Take a sharp knife, heat its end and make small squares in the container leaving a little space between each other. The size of the squares should be slightly bigger than a garlic clove.
- Fill the container with garden soil, cocopeat and vermicompost in equal proportion. Additionally add a piece of neem cake and one tablespoon of ash, both of which act as excellent fertilisers.
- Take a whole garlic and separate each clove.
- Using your thumb, insert the cloves to each square in a way that the pointed end faces outwards.
- Make sure the cloves are completely immersed in the soil.
- Water the container using a sprayer, once in alternate days or based on the dryness of topsoil.
- Within a month, leaves will be ready to be cut and used. These will last for many months.
Edited by Divya Sethu; Photo credits: Milan Kumar