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Hello friends! My family and I have been searching for a place to start a small farm for 3 years. Still looking, but also trying to make sure we can earn some returns on the land investment, since we will be using investment money (pulling out of the market). Growing garlic looks like it could be quite profitable!
http://www.profitableplants.com/garli/
http://edenvillage.net/garlic.htm
http://www.organicproducermag.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=feature.display&feature_id=45

The real problem I am seeing is finding good "seed" for a reasonable price. Most figures I see are based at procuring seed for less than $5/ lb and all I see is $8-$14/ lb.... Any Garlic growers out there with experience in this?

Also, if you are a garlic farmer, I would love to hear about your experiences!! :)
 

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I wonder if any of the commercial growers have a wholesale program that would provide you with what you need in bulk for a better price?

I'd start checking early to see if you could pre-order from next year's crop.
 

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I'm not a farmer but I grow a couple thousand square feet of garlic.

If you want to sell named garlic, like "Porcelain" for instance, then you must buy from someone selling that exact variety. Marking the garlic in the soil is important, and doing it consistently, so you aren't guessing is important. Then when it is harvested, the bunches must be marked as well. Then after curing the storage must be marked as well. If you can imagine that adds to your labor and time involved. It costs a little more to take that time. We usually have two people marking bunches, one tying and power washing and one making labels as we go, lots of running around.

If you want to sell unnamed garlic, you can buy that at the grocery store but to be honest, we did that one year and the softneck variety that we grew had the stems break open (oddly) and the flower part sneak out, mid stem, not pretty, not consistent. We weren't pleased.

That's when we went to named garlics. Much better. We spent at least $14/lb for our initial investment. Once you grow the first year, if you have success, you'll always have seed available from your own well marked garlic.

You'll need three people, all three to plant and harvest, all three to weed, all three to deal with compost/manure, and to deal with mulch. There doesn't seem to be a way to automate planting, the cloves have to be put in upside up, by hand. (it's easy enough, to do what I did, jamming my thumb while planting the hundreds of cloves, and that takes a while to heal, not fun) One person (at least) needs to be involved in marketing online, at farmer's markets, making connections, and fulfilling orders. One person needs to keep the books, expenses, sales, shipping costs, fees. That information may be important when you pay taxes, if you make a profit.

You can buy garlic from other garlic growers at better prices later in the season, but if you wait too late, you won't have time to plant it. Catch twenty two.

Practice a season, in a smaller plot if you can, before you jump in, to be sure you understand everything required. Make connections, look at ways to market it. Best of luck! Hope this helps. ~Feather

PS. We market ours now and will in the future. There are other people here, at least 10 who grow garlic. I hope they jump in here with advice for you.
 

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I'd just hunt down the different companies and email them. At least you could compare prices of the ones who wholesale.
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=wholesale+garlic+for+sale
The great thing about garlic is that once you get you get your initial crop you won't have to buy anymore except new varieties.

I don't know if they wholesale but I've bought garlic from this place 2 or 3 times and really like them and their huge variety:
http://wegrowgarlic.com
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you Feather! I know I could ask 100 more questions, but thinking of them right now is not working...lol!
 

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Cheapest and most affordable way to get started large scale is with bulbils. Check out this link fo more info https://www.garlicfarm.ca/garlic-bulbils.htm

As feather mentioned, it can be quite time consuming when you get upwards of several varieties! I think $14 a pound is reasonable enough for the small backyard grower just looking for a variety or two, but starting off with a few handfuls of bulbils can yeild back thousands of seed garlic in just a few years.

Also, I wouldn't count on wegrowgarlic as a seed source just yet though, check out the recent thread titled "wegrowgarlic news" from a few weeks ago

Where are you located?
 

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Jhn, I wonder if wegrowgarlic put in their garlic this fall? The bulbils idea is a good one.

It looks like DRose is in Southern Indiana right now. DRose, you can put in garlic into December, as long as you can chop a hole in the dirt, you can still plant. Right now? If you get a warm spell? I only have 3 varieties of garlic bulbs left and sold out of the other 3 varieties. They would be ready for harvest next June/July.
 

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You've gotten some great advice!!

I suggest you start with some smaller plots of good quality seed and grow it well. Be meticulous with it keeping things labeled and take care of your crop as though that's the only crop you'll ever have.

If you do, by the same time the next year, (and your crop succeeds) you'll have way more seed that you've grown yourself and a year of experience. And if something goes wrong in a big way, your loss will also be smaller and hopefully, you'll still be gaining experience.

Good luck!
 

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So, JHN, for bulbils, you leave them in the ground 2-3 yrs? Instead of 9 mo?

Feather- Really?? I thought we missed our window. I couldn't find any seed. Everyone seems sold out. I would love to plant 10- 20 here at home just to try. We don't have ideal space for much.
 

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DRose, yes, you can plant right into December as long as you can chop a hole in the dirt, or for that matter, plant it on top of the ground and layer some topsoil over it one inch deep, then cover with straw or other mulch. I sent you a PM.
 

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Cheapest and most affordable way to get started large scale is with bulbils. Check out this link fo more info https://www.garlicfarm.ca/garlic-bulbils.htm

As feather mentioned, it can be quite time consuming when you get upwards of several varieties! I think $14 a pound is reasonable enough for the small backyard grower just looking for a variety or two, but starting off with a few handfuls of bulbils can yeild back thousands of seed garlic in just a few years.

Also, I wouldn't count on wegrowgarlic as a seed source just yet though, check out the recent thread titled "wegrowgarlic news" from a few weeks ago

Where are you located?
I missed that posting about Mike and Karen's farm. That's too bad.
 

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The price of mulch for a big field is another consideration. We were at a local auction last week hoping to pick up some straw. The first fifty bales went for $7.25/bale! That's not typical but straw here is $3+/bale.
I thought about selling what I had in the barn.

I use straw and chopped leaves from my mulching mower to cover my garlic. I think mulching is important for areas that get really cold, but especially important because it keeps the weeds and grass down until you're ready to dig.
Another consideration is selling the scapes from the hardneck varieties. I could sell 10x what I have every season. Once people try them you'll have return customers!

It's funny that I'm posting to this thread while smelling a bunch of homegrown garlic cloves roasting in the oven to add to the chicken soup in the crock pot....Yummmm
 

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SueMC, we are in WI and last year $3 a bale, this year $4 a bale......that's quite a mark up here from year to year. We started bartering homemade soap and garlic for our straw bales now, also for our manure (they actually give it away but we want them to welcome us back each year).
 

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So, JHN, for bulbils, you leave them in the ground 2-3 yrs? Instead of 9 mo?

Feather- Really?? I thought we missed our window. I couldn't find any seed. Everyone seems sold out. I would love to plant 10- 20 here at home just to try. We don't have ideal space for much.
Tried several times to reply to this thread last night but kept getting timed out, (in case it happens again) here's the short answer. No, all bulbs, whether grown from bulbils or cloves are both treated the same here. When they're ready, bulbs are harvested and cured and then stowed for either eating or seed.
 

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You might consider planting asparagus to supplement/replace your garlic. It's much less expensive to get started with asparagus and once planted it comes back each year for many years. No mail order hassles, too, if you live near a big town or small city. I once planted a half acre of asparagus but didn't live near a town big enough to absorb all the asparagus I produced so it was a losing plan. It all depends on being near a good population. Then it will almost sell itself. A couple acres of asparagus would be a very good long-term investment. Most of the stuff sold in stores now comes from overseas and lots of people want to buy local for obvious reasons.
 
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