TIPS ON GROWING GARLIC
Garlic farming in Kenya is a profitable venture when done correctly. Garlic popularly known as ‘Kitunguu Saumu’ belonging to the onion family is a high worth horticultural plant owing to its attractive returns and high demand in the Kenyan market. People use garlic as an ingredient in the preparation of special cuisines. As such, it has both local and international demand. In addition to its economic value, garlic offers various medicinal properties.
Garlic is known to prevent colds and flu as eating one clove of garlic boosts the immune system; hence, strengthening the natural defense of one’s body. Secondly, garlic is also considered a significant anti-oxidant with components like disulphide, sallycystein, and diallye that aids in reducing the size of the tumor as well as slowing down their growth. Garlic assists the body in fighting various bacterial, fungal and viral infections like recurrent yeast infections, cholera, acne, typhus, wound treatment and candida albicans among others. Furthermore, garlic can help in the prevention of heart conditions as well as in the regulation of hypertension. Garlic possesses aphrodisiac properties; hence can be used in treating impotence.
Garlic prefers warm climates but in earlier stages, cool temperatures are necessary for vegetative growth. Too much rain and humidity is bad for vegetative growth and bulb formation. Good sunny weather encourages the development of rich flavour. Growing garlic in rainfall areas with irrigation in early stages is suitable.
The temperatures should not be too cold as this will interfere with the germination and growth of garlic.
Grow in well-drained, fertile and loamy soils. Waterlogged soils can cause rotting of the plant. Clay soils are not suitable.
A soil Ph of about 6-7 is required. To prepare the land, start by ploughing using a tractor or manual labour depending on the scale of land.
Follow with harrowing and then create basins. When using a basin, flood irrigation is the best method to use for the seed cloves, however, if beds are used then drip irrigation or use of sprinklers is the best tactic. Furrows made should be 8 inches apart while the spacing from plant to plant should be four inches apart.
Deep land preparation is required to ensure adequate rooting depth.
Garlic requires a lot of manure and 3 split applications of N: P: K based fertilizer. The best manure is either chicken or sheep droppings and fertiliser application should follow where 150kg per acre is required of N: P: K. Apply manure at least 10 tonnes per acre. The fertilizer should be mixed with soil in a ratio of 23:23:0.
Bulbs are cut off from the roots and system and left to dry for two days before planting.
One bulb of garlic is made up of many smaller pieces known as cloves.
Individual cloves are used for growing the garlic and they must have matured and already germinated.
The largest cloves often yield the biggest bulbs. Sow the seed/cloves 2.5cm deep in a hole or furrow with the flat or root-end down and pointed end up, with each tip 2 inches beneath the soil.
After sprouting, farmers should prevent blight and rust by the use of chemicals or selective herbicide to deal with weeds.
Pests and diseases
The most common pests and diseases in growing garlic include purple blotch, downy mildew, rust, bulb rot, nematodes and onion thrips. Control measures include long crop rotations (4 years), Field hygiene, good drainage, removal and destruction of infected and crop debris, spraying suitable insecticides and fungicides.
After four months the garlic should be mature as lower leaves start to shoot and turn brown. Harvesting is done by digging out the bulbs carefully and the garlic is put indoors for a week to cure.