Growing your own garlic on your balcony is surprisingly easy. It’s pretty low-maintenance and typically grows over the winter, meaning you’ll have a project while most other things are dormant.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing garlic on a balcony.
Garlic is a pretty cold-loving plant and does best in USDA Zones 1-5. Some varieties can be grown up to Zone 7, but make sure you check the packaging to make sure.
As mentioned, most garlic varieties go in the ground in late fall. There are some that you can plant in late winter (up to February) for harvesting later in the year.
It takes about 9 months to produce a head of garlic, so be patient. To save on space on a balcony, you can plant up to 10 cloves in a 22” pot. Avoid unglazed terracotta pots, as they can cause the garlic to freeze.
Important Things to Know
Sunlight: Indirect sunlight
Grow in pots: Yes – 8” in diameter or larger
Grow indoors: No
Soil type: Well-draining slightly alkaline soil
When to plant: Late fall (October) to late winter (February)
To grow garlic, you’ll need:
- A pot with drainage
- Potting soil
- Watering can
- Mulch (such as straw)
In terms of varieties, hardneck are best in cold climates and softneck in warmer climates. You plant individual cloves rather than seeds, which you can buy at gardening stores. Alternatively, try your luck with a sprouted clove from the grocery store!
1. Fill your pot with soil, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
2. Split the head of garlic into cloves, using the biggest for planting.
3. Arrange them on the soil first to work out spacing.
4. After that, simply push each clove into the soil until it’s about 3” deep.
5. Cover the cloves and water well.
6. Cover the pot with straw to help keep it insulated.
Maintenance and Care
Proper watering is vital. Place in a sunny spot and water deeply but not too often. Wet soil can encourage fungal growth, which will kill your garlic.
Ideally, they won’t flower, but cut off any flower stems if you see them forming. You want the plant to direct its energy into the clove.
Garlic is ready to harvest once the leaves start turning yellow. For most varieties, this will be sometime around June or July, but it could be as late as August.
Pull up and brush off the soil. You then need to dry the cloves in a warm sunny spot for about a month. You can hang them up or lay them out in a single layer on a sheet. Luckily, garlic stores for months if properly dried.
Final Thoughts on Garlic
Growing garlic on a balcony is a rewarding task that doesn’t take much work. If you set up a few of the pots as described above, you could easily have 40-50 heads of garlic – enough for about a week of cooking!