Garlic is widely used in cooking in many cuisines all around the world. It adds flavor to the dish and makes it fragrant and tasty. Did you know that garlic is a vegetable? It belongs to a family of vegetables called the Allium family. Besides adding flavor to dishes and making them taste yummy, garlic is actually a good source of vitamin B6, C, other vitamins, and minerals like Selenium, Manganese, and antioxidants like Allicin. Garlic can be grown and harvested easily and is cultivated popularly worldwide. One way to cultivate garlic is to use hydroponics, with the use of artificial lights and substrates.
What hydroponics is all about
Most plants and crops have been grown conventionally in soil. Soil-based farming is the most common farming practice for crops like vegetables and fruits including garlic. However, soil can cause problems like dust and air pollution if the farming is done indoors, affecting the indoor air filtration and ventilation systems. Furthermore, soil-based farming requires a lot of space as the crops have to be planted on a flat ground across a wide area. A hydroponic system refers to a method of growing plants in water, without using soil. The plants and crops have their roots submerged in a water-based solution that contains the necessary nutrients and minerals for the plants to grow. For plants like garlic, the water should also contain some sort of inert medium to support its roots. Although garlic can be grown hydroponically, there are some special requirements that you should be aware of in order to grow your garlic successfully.
What’s good about hydroponics
As mentioned earlier, soil-based planting often requires large areas of land and space in order to cultivate the crops since you need to use soil as a growing medium. However, for hydroponics, minimal land use is required. This makes it space-efficient and a feasible option in areas where arable land is lacking, or when land is scarce. Hydroponic systems have high-density maximum plant use, and efficiently makes use of water and fertilizers in the limited space. Furthermore, when using water as a growing medium, it prevents other commonly seen problems in farming like weeds, pests, insects, diseases, bacteria, salinity, and drainage. Since the roots of the plants are in direct contact with the growing medium, farmers can precisely control the amount of nutrients and minerals administered in order to maximize the growth of the crops by ensuring the best conditions for growth. Hydroponic plants can also grow anywhere and any time, and there is no need to worry about over or under-watering of the plants. The gardening can also be packed if needed and kept alive and fresh for longer periods compared to conventional farming methods.
What you need to know to grow garlic hydroponically
To grow garlic in a hydroponic system, there are some factors that you need to ensure in order for it to thrive and grow well.
- Light: Garlic plants require a large amount of sunlight every day. They need at least six to eight hours of sunlight daily, to a maximum of 10 to 12 hours. Make sure that the garlic plants are placed in an area where they can receive ample sunlight, but also ensure that there is some amount of darkness over the course of the day as too much sunlight can be damaging as well.
- Temperature: Garlic plants grow well in high temperatures as the high temperatures help to accelerate its growth. However, this also means that the plant requires more water in order to cool itself through evaporation.
- Humidity: Humidity also plays an important role in the growth of garlic. You can place your garlic plants just below the surface of rock wool, coco coir, or vermiculite. You can also dampen the clove slightly to help ensure the correct humidity conditions. However, do take note that an overly humid condition can be damaging to garlic plants instead.
- Amount of nutrients and pH level: Ensure that you use a fertilizer formulated for hydroponic systems and follow the dilution rate precisely for the correct amount of nutrients. Make sure to test the solution and check that its pH level is between 6.0 and 6.5, the ideal range for garlic plants to thrive.
- Changing the solution regularly: At various stages of its growth, the garlic plant will deplete different nutrients in different amounts. Therefore, it is important to change the water-based growing medium regularly once every two weeks. This ensures that the plant will be able to obtain the nutrients that it needs.
Besides these special requirements to take note of, there are also some tips on how to grow your garlic plants hydroponically. Make sure to choose the best garlic cloves from your local farmers market or even a garlic nursery. A general rule is to choose the large garlic cloves and keep their paper-like outer layer on and plant them in a vermiculite mix or coco coir. Make sure that the tip is facing upwards. Garlic plants take around 45 to 60 days to germinate and you need to check regularly to ensure that the right conditions are in place in order for your plants to grow.
Hydroponics has proven itself to be a feasible and smarter way of planting vegetables and fruits. If you are looking to plant garlic, you should definitely consider using a hydroponics system as well. A hydroponic system is not only space-efficient, but it also ensures that the necessary nutrients and minerals are delivered directly to the plants, ensuring its growth. As hydroponics do not use water as a growing medium, the chances of problems with weeds, pests, and diseases are also greatly minimized. It also offers a tightly controlled environment for the plants to grow, preventing possible disruptions. Hydroponics also accelerates the maturation of garlic plants, allowing quicker and more efficient harvesting practices, leading to better and more crop yield. Thus, if you are thinking about planting your very own garlic plant at home, hydroponics is an option that you should definitely consider!