Organic farming is a natural technique to grow crops. It uses products from the nature to enhance the crops. This method gives us a better yield with quality. Organic farming does not promote the use of chemical products as it destroys the balance of nature and harm the living creatures.
Let’s discuss about the farming techniques of garlic.
Garlic is an important ingredient used in many of our dishes. They belong to the family of Allium and shares relation with onions, leaks and shallots. The garlic fruit is made up of individual bulbs called the clove. These cloves are protected by a thin layer of covering. In a single fruit, there will be around 10-20 cloves. Garlic is significant due to its smell and delicious taste. They are of good medical importance due to the presence of sulphur compounds. Along with sulphur, other beneficial compounds like diallyl disulphide and sallyl systeine are also present in them. They are consumed in different forms, chopped, crushed or chewed. Garlic also boosts the immune system in our body.
During the initial stages, garlic was cultivated under mild climates but gradually they were effectively grown in cold regions such as Midwest.
Garlic originated in central Asia and north-eastern Iran. This is a major crop in Pakistan and is consumed by millions of people.
Garlic crops grow up to a height of 1m. The scientific name of garlic is Allium Sativum. Basically there are two species of garlic, soft neck and hard neck.
In soft neck variety, the garlic will have a flexible stalk along with the thin skin which wraps the cloves. Soft neck varieties grow well in mild climates. These are more productive than hard neck.
Hard neck consists of a stiff stalk which starts from the base of the garlic bulb till the top of the plant. Compared to soft neck, this has less storage potential.
Soil prepared for garlic cultivation should be rich with organic matter, should be well-exhausted and have a neutral pH. The crops should have a proper drainage system or they will succumb to rot.
While cultivating garlic, other crops like tillage radishes or leguminous plants are planted in crop rotation to increase the nitrogen content in the soil. Before planting the seedlings, the soil is treated with compost, organic matter and other organic fertilizers. Before all these process, soil testing should be done to certify the quality of the soil.
Garlic is usually grown on bare land. They are also planted in plastic mulches. Mulches come in different colours. Black and green are commonly used because they help to retain moisture and increase the soil temperature in spring.
The major manures applied to the soil include organic and livestock manures such as wastes from chicken, cattle, horses, sheep etc.
Common types of organic manures used for garlic crops include:
- Sheep and goat manure
- Oil cakes
- Fish manure
- Peanut hulls manure
The optimum pH level of the soil should be 6-7 for an effective growth of the crops. Soil testing and soil preparation is done before a month of planting. Before planting the crops we must ensure that compounds like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Sulphur are present in them.
The suitable growing period of garlic is during the early autumn and harvest before the early summer. The crops need a bit hotter climate during the development of the bulbs.
The garlic seedlings are planted 2-3 cm below the ground level. Organic fertilizers are applied directly to the soil or mixed with water and applied through drip irrigation.
Major fertilizers applied to the soil include:
- Neem oil
- Blood meal
- Bone meal
- Shellfish fertilizers
- Rock phosphate
- Green sand
Garlic crops are provided with drip irrigation or trickle irrigation. To maintain the moisture content in the soil, mulching is done.
Weeds are the major killers of garlic crops. To avoid weeds, the beds are mulched with dry straw.
Major varieties of pests that infect garlic plants are:
- Onion maggots
- Stem and bulb nematode
Major diseases caused to the crop include:
- White rot
- Basal rot
- Blue mold
Harvest of garlic is done when the leaves turn yellow and later completely becomes dry. During this stage, the garlic is pulled off from the ground.