A backyard garden brings happiness to all gardeners. But did you know you can actually make good money growing high-value specialty crops, like garlic? Maybe you’d like to try farming garlic. It’s a booming business that could produce a substantial income. Here’s how:
Garlic continues to be a popular cooking condiment, and is the second most often used spice in our kitchens. Americans alone consumed over 300 million tons of garlic last year. This garlic has to come from somewhere, so why not your backyard nursery?
Growing garlic for profit is an excellent way to make money for any grower. It’s important to know that growing garlic is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You probably won’t be able afford that beach house in Hawaii or that private jet you’ve had your eye on, but you can make a nice income. And don’t forget that growing garlic takes several months, so growing garlic for profit does not mean overnight success. But don’t let that deter you. With some smart choices and some hard work, you could be on your way to success before you know it.
So how can you be a successful garlic grower? First, grow what people want. Many cooks are sick of ordinary garlic, and want to use the more flavorful varieties, such as rocambole, and other “hardneck” varieties, as well as the milder elephant garlic. If you can supply this market, you can charge premium prices, as your garlic is not to be found in most supermarkets.
Next, make sure your garlic is growing up healthy. Check to see if your soil has a Ph between 6.2 and 6.8. That’s what garlic prefers.. Look for weeds, pests and any disease problems. You also need to make sure your soil is well-drained. Waterlogged soil can lead to a lot of problems. Consider growing your garlic in a raised bed, which will help with drainage. A bed that is at least six inches high should do the trick. Start planting your bulbs and seed cloves about six weeks before the first frost of fall. When planting your bulbs and cloves, try to plant them four to six inches apart. When you have years of experience you can start planting them even closer together. Your goal is to fit as many as you can in each square foot of space.
As your garlic grows, keep checking for weed, pest and other disease problems. Be sure your garlic gets plenty of water, particularly in the May through July months. When it’s about two or three weeks before harvest time, stop watering.
When your garlic is ready to be sold, you have a variety of options. Talk to restaurants in your town, and see if they’re interested in the fresh garlic you’ve grown. Or maybe you’d like to talk to a produce broker who buys garlic in bulk and then resells it to supermarkets and other retail outlets. Perhaps you’d like to sell garlic at the local farmers’ market, which are fun events that draw huge crowds looking for the top local products. Shoppers there are willing to pay a premium for braided garlic, or garlic scapes, the tender sprouts that can be harvested early in the season.These are just some of the many ways you can sell your garlic. To learn more, read Golden Harvest.