Just because temperatures are dropping faster than fall leaves off a maple tree doesn’t mean you must abandon all gardening hope. You can always scratch that itch by bringing your vegetable operations indoors (on a smaller scale). Here’s a quick-and-easy method to get your indoor gardening efforts started, using little more than a window and some old garlic cloves:
Step 1: Find yourself a glass or plastic container that will serve as your garlic garden. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just large enough to hold however many cloves you’ll be working with.
Step 2: Add garlic cloves to your container. There’s no need to run out and purchase new, fresh cloves; the beauty of this project is that you can put those old cloves that are turning bad to good use. If they’re already sprouting or turning a little brown, that’s fine. As long as they’re not rotting, they should be viable. It doesn’t matter if you remove the outer skin or not, but you do need to position them with the pointy end up and the root side down.
Step 3: Add a little water to your container. There’s noo soil of any kind used, just water. Keep it shallow and aim for just the tips of the bottoms being wet at all times. The roots will grow down to the water if they need to. But if the cloves themselves are submerged, they’ll rot.
Step 4: Continue to add water as the container dries out over time. If the water never fully evaporates, dump it and add fresh water every day or two, or when the water begins to look cloudy.
Step 5: Wait for nature to do it’s thing. Roots will develop in a day or two, with top growth following shortly after. Be sure to wait until the sprouts (or more accurately: the garlic scapes) have grown at least 3 inches before harvesting, and never snip off more than 1/3 of the sprout at any one time; this allows the clove to continue to grow new top growth. Cutting down to the base of the sprout will stop growth completely. Left alone, the sprouts will grow as tall as ten inches.
For cooking and measuring purposes: a two-inch cutting of garlic sprouts, chopped up, is equivalent to approximately one tablespoon. The sprouts themselves are not the same as garlic cloves, but rather something between scallions and garlic, and milder in flavor.
It’s important to remember that no soil is needed because the sprouts get all the nutrients they need from the clove itself. This also means that after a few cycles of growing new sprouts, the clove will be spent and should be discarded. It’s a good idea to start new cloves growing out at different times, so that there is always a fresh ‘crop’ ready to harvest.