Think You Have a Green Thumb? Learn How to Grow Garlic Indoors

how to grow garlic indoors
Ah, late winter. How she tempts with above-freezing temperatures and a good snow melt when the sun climbs high. It's a wonderful time to head out onto the deck to overlook the still-frozen lake and bask. I mean, really bask. 

Wendie and I spread out our arms and let the sunlight warm us. You can feel the little vitamin D machines in your skin just pumping away the winter blahs. When we get energized, we get antsy for spring projects. Though it's too early for the garden, it's never the wrong time to to learn how to grow garlic indoors.

How's that for a preamble to spring?

Growing windowsill garlic is something we've done for years with the kids. It has a fast turnaround time, is absolutely gorgeous to see and tastes amazing in a salad, an omelette or scattered on top of a baked potato.  




Wait, what did I just say? Garlic scattered on a potato? You bet, because one of the secrets to knowing how to grow garlic indoors, on a homestead or not, is knowing it's not the same as growing it outside. We're not talking about bulbs, you know. That's a different garlic conversation altogether. We're talking garlic greens.

How to Grow Garlic Indoors

how to grow garlic indoors
Learning how to grow garlic indoors has a slightly easier curve from those bulbs you so lovingly planted outside in the fall. The reason is that garlic grows differently in a windowsill pot than when outdoors. To begin with, any indoor planting will not build a garlic bulb, but instead sprout a delicious shoot. 

This is what you are looking for, the green sprout that looks like a chive or green onion top. These are called garlic greens and are a sweeter and more nutrient packed variety of the scape produced by hard necked varieties. While the scape's job is to feed the bulb, the garlic green is there for itself.

The great thing is that once you plant a clove of garlic in a windowsill pot, you will see results in a week or two. If you plant a few, you will have enough to satisfy the whole family with yummy, fresh goodness. A miracle of soil, sun and water coming joining forces. With a clove, of course.

How to Grow Garlic in Pots

how to grow garlic in potsSo, how to grow garlic in pots? The great thing is, it is simpler than helping an avocado seed sprout on your kitchen sink window ledge. Use a small planter, something along the lines of a decorative ceramic planter you picked up at the dump swap shop. Fill it with loose potting soil, then plant 3-5 garlic cloves and cover the holes with dirt. 

Water the pot lightly to keep some moisture in it, and place it in full sun. Within a week or two, you will have a well-spaced forest of single shoots coming up from your cloves to snip and use in whatever recipe you see fit.

How Does Garlic Grow

how does garlic grow
So here is where the differences lie between garlic planted outdoors for a dormancy-required bulb. Outside, garlic needs the inactive period of winter to re-arrange itself and prepare to build up energy for spring splitting. Planting garlic in the fall tricks the bulbs into putting a lot away in the form of a resources, because you will dig it up before it splits.

When you learn how to grow garlic indoors, you are learning to remove the urge that garlic has for storing energy. Isn't that what homesteading is all about, learning to do new things to make our families happy and improve our lot on this earth? I'm sure there's a parable or metaphor in there somewhere.

This shortened, indoor growth approach encourages the clove to send up a garlic green to capture sunlight. It isn't trying to store anything below the ground, so therefore no bulb forms. In fact, once the garlic green is cut, the clove is spent and it's time to plant a new one.

How to Harvest Garlic Greens

how to harvest garlic greens
Knowing how to harvest garlic in winter is a neat little homestead gardening trick that is a hit at cocktail parties. No, really, it is. The garlic greens are so easy to grow that a cute collection of pots throughout the kitchen, (You know, the social space of a cocktail party,) can become a veritable jungle of odiferous delight. Who doesn't love to see healthy greens things growing all about the place in an organized and purposeful manner?

When your garlic green is long enough for your needs, simply snip them close to the soil. Remove the spent clove and replace with another for a new harvest later on. If you want, you can even free-dry them for later. If not, dice 'em and use at your discretion.

We love sharing our lessons learned with you all, and hope to have your input. Did you ever learn how to grow garlic indoors? Have you taught your kids? What other fun homesteading gardening projects do you have for windowsill farming? Let us know in the conversation below!

Comments

I love indoors veggies and herbs! We live in an area with a short growing season so this helps a lot. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.
WT said…
We have the short growing season as well, and putting some practical greens in the kitchen is just one of the ways we stay sane during the long months of winter:)
Cheers!
WT said…
And I did want to add how much I am enjoying the Homestead Blog Hop- plenty of great writers, great ideas and wonderful stories. Thank you for hosting it!