How do you grow garlic?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by NoahJohn, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. NoahJohn

    NoahJohn Well-Known Member

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    I've done some research online as well as talking to a person whom I purchased some garlic from and I seem to get a different version from each person. Can anyone provide some tips on how to grow garlic? Do I plant it this fall? If I understand correctly I plant each individual clove, right? Do I just use the cloves off the garlic that I've purchased? Does each clove produce one garlic? Any other tips would be great. I live for garlic and I'm definitely going to try growing it next year.
     
  2. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    You can plant it in mid october here, north Idaho.
    Normal amendments are needed. With some bone meal added. I use some wood ash in the bed as well.
    divide up the head into cloves, but don't peel them.
    I mulch them for the winter, and they grow up through the mulch in the spring.
     

  3. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, plant in the fall. Not knowing the zone involved, that would be mid-September in zone 4 and add 15 days for each warmer zone.

    Yes, bulbs are broken down to individual cloves for planting.

    Yes, one can use store-purchased garlic although it's usually a generic softneck from the new garlic capital of the world, Shanghai, China.

    Yes, each clove will normally produce a proper bulb if normal growing conditions are adhered to.

    Best tip is to check out www.thegarlicstore.com to see what they have available and to study their growing instructions. It's probably the best I've found for handling my 25+ varieties.

    Although planting is at last 6 weeks away, now is the time to begin preparing the beds. If the soil is heavy, add 15% sand and 10% coarse organic matter. Both are to assure proper draining and for the bulb to expand. It's also the time to add the best fertilizer that they love, horse manure. It can be so fresh that it was hay yesterday. Since the plants won't be using it until next spring, it will be just perfectly broken down and ready to use. 2", spaded in to at least 8" deep, is about perfect.

    Martin
     
  4. Tiffin

    Tiffin Well-Known Member

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    I'm just starting to harvest the garlic I put in last September. They look great. Smell good, but haven't tasted it yet. The only thing I'm finding is that the cloves are falling off the bulb. I don't think it will matter. Also, these plants produced seeds so I'm going to try planting those in September or October.
     
  5. Cindy in NY

    Cindy in NY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I did my first garlic last fall. My instructions said to cover with 4" of straw. I used a few pieces of short garden fencing to keep the straw in place over the winter.

    Two things I will do differently this coming year: keep all weeds & dill out of garlic bed (they don't like to be crowded) and when the flower stalks get to be about 10" tall they need to be cut off (takes energy away from bulb growth). My bulbs have been drying in the garage for about a week. They smell good but aren't very big.
     
  6. swollen tongue

    swollen tongue Well-Known Member

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    you can plant in the fall in mild winter areas. I plant it in the spring and harvest in fall. I plant each clove and it produces a bulb in the fall. For bigger bulbs, mulch heavy and leave it in the ground for next spring and harvest that fall.
     
  7. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    Martin, do you rotate your garlic beds, or just keep amending the same bed annually?

    Thanks,
    Pony!
     
  8. NoahJohn

    NoahJohn Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the detailed instructions. The Garlic Store also provides a wealth of information. Just to make sure I'm correct, when I go to plant, the cloves are fresh and do not need to...(words are failing me) have the green part germinating already? Thanks a lot.
     
  9. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Tiffin if the cloves are falling off the bulb you probably left them in the ground a little too long. Try harvesting when a few of the bottom leaves are brown but the top leaves are still green.

    The seeds or scapes can be planted but it will take as many as a few years for them to grow to full bulbs. Better off replanting cloves.
     
  10. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Right, the cloves don't need to be sprouting with a green tip before planting them. You could probably plant them if they were sprouted but it isn't necessary.

    One thing I love about garlic is that you plant it in the "off season" for regular planting and you can see sprouts come up in the snow while you'rs still looking at seed catalogs for your summer crops
     
  11. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Tiffin, your problem was leaving them in the ground too long. Garlic should be dug when the bottom third of the leaves have died. The leaves are the same as onions with each providing a wrapper around the bulb. When the leaves die, the wrappers die also.

    Those "seeds are bulbils, not seeds. Just like miniature bulbs. If they are the large type about the size of a pea or larger, they may be planted back this fall and still produce a small divided bulb in the spring. If they are the smaller type which aren't much bigger than a grain of wheat, you'll only get a marble-sized round next year. That in turn can be planted back to obtain a divided bulb two years from now.

    Cindy, straw is indeed the mulch of choice and is what we use in the garlic field. Despite also using close to 4", much of it was broken down by 15 July when harvest began. What remains will continue to break down before spreading manure and plowing a few days before planting. At home I use shredded ash, maple, and oak leaf mix but about 2". That's held in place by chicken wire or hardware cloth.

    Swollen Tongue, not right about leaving spring-planted garlic to grow a second year. That's possible only if you know that it's simply a round. If it's a divided bulb, each clove will produce a separate plant with each only having a few small cloves. If they are left for yet another season, they will produce only scallions with single tiny bulbs like onions.

    Pony, garlic does best in a certain type of soil that other plants may not like. They are also something that is in the ground the opposite time as everything else. That's often the reason why some people lose their garlic by forgetting where they planted it and accidentally plow it under. As long as there are no diseases, and there are few that affect garlic, continue to maintain the same bed. My main raised garlic is now at least 10 or 12 years and designed especially for garlic. About a 10x10 bed and 8" deep. Bottom was first almost entirely covered with ribs from 7 deer. 8" of prairie silt on top of that. The deer ribs became slow-release phosphorus, also important for healthy garlic. Then river sand added to 15%. Since silt can become almost as hard as clay, the 15% sand plus the decomposed shredded leaf mulch result in the silt only being about 75% and just perfect for the garlic.

    By having a permanent bed, one can also easily load it with nutrients between harvest time and planting. Although it's not until spring when the nutrients are needed by the plants, their food has to be in the ground at planting time. And since one of the main requirements are nitrogen, now is when something like a fresh high-nitrogen manure. If that manure were composted down to where it was ready to use now, much of the nutrient value could have been leached out by next spring. By creating permanent beds for garlic and other alliums, one can assure that the plants have the maximum nutrients available at just the right time.

    Martin
     
  12. Tiffin

    Tiffin Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Ed K and Paquebot. Great info. I'll get the rest of the garlic out today. I used the other garlic I pulled out on a pizza; smelled and tasted great. Even though I would like to try the bulbs that formed on the stock, I'm not going to depend totally on those to plant. I'll plant cloves also. I am also going to find a permanent bed for them as suggested. Thanks again.
     
  13. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    Thanks for the info, Martin. :)

    I'm so excited! Now I'll have permanent garlic and potato beds.

    :dance:

    Pony!
     
  14. Randy Rooster

    Randy Rooster Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I grow elephant garlic- had about 300 plants this year. All the little "bulbils" that grow on it I plant back and they make very good scallions.
     
  15. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We plant buckwheat into the garlic patch after digging the garlic out. We'll till it under the last part of September, and plant garlic the first week of October. We fertilize and add other organic matter as we can get our hands on it, but the buckwheat has done amazing things for our heavy clay soil, and in a much shorter time than all our other organic additions.