Hydroponics has become a popular way to grow vegetables quickly. You can easily grow plenty of vegetables or herbs, including lettuce, tomatoes, mint, onion, and even garlic hydroponically. And if you’re reading this article you’re wondering how to grow hydroponic garlic.
Since garlic is a superb source of antioxidants, vitamin B6, C, and other essential nutrients, you can grow it either for commercial purposes or just for fun.
Amazingly every day people are trying to grow garlic hydroponically for commercial purposes because it has now become a potential agro-business. Since garlic can be grown in soilless media, there is a good chance that you can grow it quickly in hydroponics.
So keep reading to find out everything you need to know! In this article you’ll learn:
- Requirements for growing garlic in hydroponics.
- Best hydroponic method to grow garlic.
- How to grow hydroponic garlic.
- Common pests and diseases that can plague garlic.
- The harvesting process.
- Things to remember while growing garlic in hydroponics.
Before starting the guide, let’s begin with the basic knowledge of an hydroponic system.
What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics refers to a system in which plants can be grown in water. Long story short, water is used as the medium instead of soil. With hydroponics, plants grow faster than when they’re grown in soil, and this is why both novice growers and farmers are beginning to prefer using it for growing their favorite crops.
Do You Know Why Plants Grow Faster With Hydroponics?
If you’re wondering why hydroponics is more efficient, the answer is actually pretty simple. When you apply organic or inorganic fertilizers in your soil, microbes come and start eating it, causing it to decompose. And so, slowly over time, the fertilizer will release the nutrients.
However, remember that plants can only take up the water-soluble nutrients.
Therefore, some of the released nutrients will become water-soluble, while others will be retained in the soil. So some nutrients will remain in the soil, and some will be absorbed. Because of this, your plant is only going to receive a small amount of the total nutrients.
In a hydroponic setup, the fertilizer will dissolve quickly in the water. The released nutrients will be readily available because they will already be in a water-soluble form. The system will not retain any of the nutrients, so your plants get 100% of the nutrients. Because of the availability of essential nutrients and water, plants grow much faster in hydroponics.
(Check out How To Grow Ginger Hydroponically!)
Requirements for Growing Hydroponic Garlic
To know how to grow hydroponic garlic, you need to know the requirements of the crop. So you’ll need to consider the following factors while growing garlic:
To grow hydroponic garlic, the farmer must ensure the water quality at the beginning. There are a few factors that control water quality, such as pH, EC, total suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, etc. It is recommended that the pH of the water should be between 6-6.5, which is neutral, but ever so slightly acidic. The EC of the solution should range between 1.4 to 1.8 milliSiemens (or 980 to 1260 ppm).
Humidity and Temperature
These plants are quite hardy because they can withstand the temperature of 30-degree Fahrenheit or 85-degree Fahrenheit. Higher temperature accelerates the growth rate of these crops, and it also increases water consumption. To maintain humidity, you can mist them as they prefer higher humidity.
Light is considered one of the most important factors for growing garlic hydroponically. When you can supply plenty of light, the growth rate will be accelerated. You provide 8 hours of natural light if possible, however, 10 to 12 hours is ideal. This is one of the reasons it’s recommended to invest in grow lights.
Remember that the growth of your garlic heavily relies on the concentration of nutrients in the water. The nutrient requirements vary according to the stage the plant is in. The grower should be careful about adding/mixing fertilizer to the solution. Higher concentrations can kill them, while lower concentrations can stunt the growth.
However, you don’t have to throw away the old nutrient solution. Instead of throwing it, you can use it to irrigate other plants you may have in your garden. Many people become confused at this point as they don’t know how to grow hydroponic garlic and how to make a hydroponic solution for garlic.
To keep it simple many people find that MasterBlend General Purpose 20-20-20 is a great fertiliser when you’re first starting out.
However, as you become more experienced don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit to see if you can get a larger yield. As well as this you should also be adding Calcium Nitrate and Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt).
When adding nutrients it’s important not to add them at the same time. You should start by adding Calcium Nitrate.
If you’re going to grow garlic hydroponically then follow these guidelines…
For every 5 gallons of water:
- Add 10g of Calcium Nitrate and stir thoroughly. Calcium Nitrate doesn’t mix with the other nutrients, and it can damage your plants if you don’t add it and stir it thoroughly first.
- Next, add 5g of Magnesium Sulfate and stir that thoroughly as well.
- Lastly, add 10g of MasterBlend 20-20-20 and stir.
- If the pH level becomes too low you should also make sure you’re adding the correct dose of pH down to bring it down to 6.0-6.5.
Fortunately, if you’re not sure about dosing, the labels on your nutrients will tell you exactly what you need to do, and for best results, you should follow them.
(Check out How To Grow Cilantro/Coriander Hydroponically!)
Best Hydroponics Method to Grow Garlic
If you’re going to grow garlic hydroponically, you have to recognize the different methods to know which one is the best fit. Many people become confused at this stage, and choosing the wrong method can affect the amount you’ll harvest.
These are the six common hydroponic systems to consider.
A wick system is the simplest system. In other systems, the grower has to use an air pump to supply oxygen to the water. Because of the root’s continuous respiration, the water becomes rich in carbon dioxide, and if the concentration of carbon dioxide becomes too much, the plant will die.
Beginners prefer using this method because of its simplicity. In this system, vermiculite or perlite are used as the absorbent substance in which the crops are placed.
With this system you just place a net cup filled with your growing media above a container of water and fertiliser. You then place wicks into the water and growing media. Once this is done water will rise up the wick and nourish your plants!
- Ideal for the beginners
- Simple design and less expensive
- A great choice for smaller plants
- Water needs to be changed often as there is no circulation
- Toxic substances may build-up
Deep Water Culture
In this system, the roots of the plants are in direct touch with the solution. With this method, an air pump is used to supply oxygen to the system. With a DWC, you need to remember to position your net/hydroponic cups in the right place. The netcup should be just submerged enough to be able to absorb water, but not so much that it will drown the roots in the early days. Because of the direct contact with oxygen, nutrients, and water, crops can grow well in this system.
- No absorbent is used, and better plant growth
- Ideal design for the beginners
- Larger plants can be grown
- Root diseases can be a problem
(Find out How To Grow Broccoli Hydroponically!)
Ebb and Flow System
For the home gardeners, it can be a popular method, but it needs high maintenance. You will need to use a medium like perlite or Rockwool to absorb water. You should position the cups in such a position where the water level reaches 2 inches below the upper layer of the medium (don’t overflow it). This will ensure a uniform distribution of water. This is the method in which the grower will need the water pump for flooding and draining purposes. Using the water pump, he has to maintain the water level, and after a certain period, the pump has to be shut so that the water is drained. This flooding and draining process will supply water, nutrients, and oxygen to the roots.
- Good choice for growing vegetables
- Better growth of plants
- Water can be reused
- Maintenance is required
- A little bit expensive
This is another simple hydroponic design, in which the farmers can grow almost all types of plants. The grower can set up a small or large system with this principle. The solution is the first pump into a specific tube, which transfers the water to the plant roots. At the end of those tubes, you will find drip emitters, which controls the flow rate of the solution. This method is highly effective, and because of its contribution to water conservation, many people in arid regions prefer using this technique. The circulating drip system will supply the solution continuously to the roots.
- Water efficiency is high
- Suitable to grow all vegetables
- Nutrient concentration and pH levels can be maintained
- Beginners may find it hard to install at the beginning
Nutrient Flow Technique
This is one of the most effective hydroponic systems, and many scientists recommend larger farms to use this technique to conserve water and nutrients. Interestingly, the design is extremely simple, and it will supply nutrients, water, and air at the same time. The water pump will draw the solution from the nutrient reservoir and transfer through a sloped PVC pipe. The plants are placed in the holes of the pipes. The water will enter the pipe from one side and return to the reservoir from the other side.
- Many plants and vegetables can be grown at the same time
- Water can be reused
- Ideal for commercial farmers
- Root diseases can be a problem
Honestly, this hydroponic system is a little bit challenging compared to the others. Since it is an advanced method, you will surely need to use technology here. Instead of providing water, you have to provide water in the form of mist. It will carry essential nutrients. The mist nozzles have to be set up beside the roots to ensure uniform distribution. This method uses less water than other systems and increases efficiency.
- The highly effective hydroponic method
- Less water uses
- Uniform distribution of water, nutrients, and air
- Installation is complex
- Nozzles can be clogged because of the salt build-up
Now, think about all these systems.
What do you think? Which one is the perfect method for growing garlic?
Actually, all the systems mentioned above are perfect for growing garlic in aquaculture. But as a beginner, we suggest you start with the three easiest methods –
- Wick system
- Deep water culture
- Drip system
If it is the first experiment, and if the grower doesn’t know how to grow hydroponic garlic, he should start using the wick system because it is proved to be a successful process for the newbies.
Now it is time to discuss the entire process to start growing garlic hydroponically.
(Check out How To Grow Asparagus Hydroponically!)
How to Grow Hydroponic Garlic – Step By Step
The most important part of this article has started. But before giving a straight jump in the growing process, we have to make everything ready for the installation.
Things Required to Grow Hydroponic Garlic
In a hydroponic solution, it is common that the medium should be water. But it should be remembered that the garlic bulbs need a substrate to develop themselves. This is why there are a few substrates that can be used as the absorbents:
- Coconut fiber: It is considered the best substrate for hydroponic as it has the capacity to retain water. Often it can be used with perlite to provide excellent support to the cloves.
- Perlite: It is a volcanic mineral with expansion characteristics. Because of its greater water retention capacity, it can also be a great choice. But the drawback is – perlite dries much quicker.
- Vermiculite: This one is similar to the perlite, but the difference is – vermiculite is better at retaining more water.
- Rockwool: It is a lightweight and highly porous material. Because of its greater porosity, it ensures the availability of air inside the substrate.
Make Hydroponic Solution
To make all the nutrients available in the water, you need to dissolve the following fertilizers there –
- Calcium nitrate
- Potassium nitrate
- Magnesium sulfate heptahydrate
- Monopotassium phosphate
- Copper sulfate pentahydrate
- Manganese sulfate
- Boric acid
- Zinc sulfate
- Iron EDTA
Dissolve all of them in the water to make them available for the plants. Don’t forget to adjust the pH, which should be maintained from 6 to 6.5.
If this all sounds a little too complicated you can always buy a general hydroponic. It will be fine for growing garlic, however, as you become more experienced you should try to experiment to see how well you can make your garlic grow.
A Nutrient Tank/Reservoir
A Drilled Tray to Hold the Cups
Garlic Cloves or Seeds
[For updated system, the grower will need these – water pump, air pump, and PVC pipes]
The Installation Process of the System
- At first, you have to choose a good quality garlic clove. This is a must because unhealthy cloves will not develop the roots. It is wise to choose the garlic cloves instead of seeds because the cloves will give you a better result.
- Take those hydroponic or net or plastic cups. If there are no holes around them, you need to drill it and make multiple holes around and beneath the cup. Try to mix the substrate like coconut coir + perlite, or perlite + vermiculite, or coconut coir + vermiculite, etc. Avoid using only coconut coir.
- Now place the substrate in those cups and place the cloves inside the substrate. While placing the cloves, you should do that carefully. The tip of the cloves should face upwards. Since the roots will start developing from the other end, they have to be placed beneath the surface. But don’t leave the tips of the cloves exposed.
- Place the cups on the holding tray. This tray will prevent those cups from being drowned. The water will moist the substrate slowly and supply moisture as well as nutrients to the cloves to trigger its roots.
- If you use the seeds, then they need to be germinated. The perfect temperature of the water and the ambient should be around 40 to 60-degree Celsius. It may take around two months to germinate or trigger the roots. If the climate is too cold in the growing area, the grower can use a heat source to supply heat. However, there are some varieties that prefer growing at lower temperatures, such as Hardneck varieties. Using these varieties in hydroponics is a bad choice.
- Now it is about light and nutrients. To accelerate the germination process, make sure the nutrients and light are favorable to them. It is advised that the cloves or seeds should receive approximately 10 hours of light. To supply 10 hours of continuous light, it is better to use artificial lights. Some experts opine that the farmers may use the reflecting surfaces to enhance the intensity of light. Some beginners may use too much fertilizer to create a hydroponic solution, which can ruin the seeds or the cloves. They must maintain the pH level at 6 or 6.5.
To maintain water quality, you should change the water every two weeks. While changing the water, don’t throw it away. Instead, give the solution to other plants in the garden. If you have an air pump inside the tank, then the water can be changed after three weeks. The air pump continuously supplies oxygen to the system; as a result, the quality is maintained.
A newbie can follow these simple steps to start farming garlic hydroponically. If he wants to grow more and builds a bigger system, we will recommend him to choose the drip or nutrient film technique.
Common Pests and Diseases of Garlic
In hydroponic culture, pests and soil-borne diseases don’t seem to be a problem as they rarely attack the plants in this system. However, root diseases, fungus, and mold can be problems. Since garlic is a natural pest repellant, you don’t have to be worried about the pest attack. But some diseases like fungal attack can make the situation problematic because if the grower fails to control the disease, it will easily spread among the others.
Common Pests in Garlic
White-colored bulbous mites can be seen on the leaves, and these pests may rot the bulbs. Avoid growing onions with garlic. Using insecticides by spraying can solve the problem.
There are winding, thin, and white trails on the plant’s leaves, and it falls off even before becoming mature. Crop debris should be eliminated once they are harvested.
Stems are very weak and fall on the ground. Both roots and bulbs may rot. You may see there are gray-colored maggots and white larvae in the plants.
Leaves may have scars and become slippery. The pests can be seen by using a lens. Adult ones are yellowish-pale or light brown. Use foliage irrigation and avoid planting garlic close to the grain fields.
Common Fungal Diseases in Garlic
Affected plants have smaller leaves and have whitish flecks with a few purple centers. Wet foliage, high humidity, and temperature are responsible for the development of this disease. Avoid foliage watering or use a fungicide to prevent the disease.
Stemphylium Leaf Blight
It affects mainly the radial leaves of the seedlings during March and April. Wet foliage and humid conditions are responsible for this disease. Use fungicides and avoid foliage irrigation.
Plants will have several pale spots or larger patches on their leaves. The leaves may become yellowish, and the tips collapse. Wet foliage and cold temperature are responsible for the disease. Avoid planting garlic too close to each other, use foliar fungicides, and remove the affected crops.
It creates the most problematic situation in garlic because it may exist for over 20 years. The leaves will become yellowish, and plants won’t grow properly. Lack of moisture and colder temperatures are responsible for this situation. Fungicide can be used to treat white rot.
The bulb becomes black, and leaves die at the matured stage. In addition, there can be blackish spots at veins. High temperature is held responsible for this problem. Better drainage is necessary to get rid of this disease.
How to Harvest Hydroponic Garlic
Garlic is comparatively a slow-growing plant, and everything will be a bit faster if they are grown in hydroponics. You have to wait for 90 days so that the bulbs can grow bigger and ready for harvesting. In this system, the farmer can simply lift the plant and take a look at the bulbs to check the growth. Check for the green sprouts at the top of the garlic to find out whether it is ready for harvesting or not.
Other Things to Remember While Growing Garlic Hydroponically
There are two things that the growers should remember while doing this project –
- They must be aware of the smell because the strong smell of garlic seems to be intolerable. If space is enclosed, then the situation can become worse. So, it is better to grow these plants in a separate room.
- Since these crops require bright light, supplying 10-12 hours of continuous light can be painful. Artificial light can be expensive, and without enough light, you may not receive a good harvest.
In this guideline of “how to grow hydroponic garlic,” we have covered almost everything that is needed to know to grow these crops in a soilless medium. Growing these crops, hydroponically, has multiple advantages. Since you are a newbie, we suggest you start farming using the wicked principle because it can provide a successful result at an affordable cost.