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How to Grow Garlic in Your Home Garden Successfully


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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:29 pm    Post subject: How to Grow Garlic in Your Home Garden Successfully Reply with quote

How to Grow Garlic in Your Home Garden Successfully
By Joyce Moore

Photo / pic / image of hardneck garlic bulbs.
_______________________________________________________________

The following tutorial refers to garlic growing specifically, but can easily be used for most onion crops as well.

The following information is for general garlic growing that I have used for my own home garden.
Of course, there are lots of specialty seeds and plants that require more specific techniques but as I am not a professional horticulturist, but a home gardener like yourselves, I will stick with what I know!

For basic garlic growing you need a few things.
First of all your garlic cloves! We started out by growing garlic from garlic heads bought at a local shop, but then I decided to try some new and different varieties! Last year I ended up the with some German Reds, so decided to plant them. This way, I could be assured of the freshest product possible and it allowed me to use the garden space normally left fallow all winter to good use.
So, I planted in October and waited for spring.

Remember to work in some good compost and bone meal before planting your cloves.
I planted mine about three inches deep or about three times the size of the clove. We have fairly mild coastal winters so not a lot of hard ground freezing until around January and then it is only for a few weeks at most.
More on this subject later in the tutorial.......

Viola! Come late spring, what to my wondering eyes to appear, but garlic sprouts!

Let's back up a little to discuss the two basic types of garlics for the home gardener. Generally speaking we are talking about hardnecks and softnecks.

HARDNECK GARLICS(See picture at top of page) are very popular because they are easy to grow in most types of soils as long as the soil is fertile and well draining.
Hardnecks will store for three to six months on average so are grown for early winter usage. There are many different varieties from the German Reds that I offer my customers to Spanish Roja and more. As you can see from the titles, these garlics most often have some coloring to them such as streaks of purple, red or brown. They are valued for their high allicin content and great flavor that holds up to cooking. Hardnecks can be a little challenging when separating the cloves as they have a fair amount of "parchment" or the papery skins you have to peel away to get at the "meat". They tend to have a inner circle of large cloves with few to any smaller cloves on the outside.
Hardnecks are planted in the late autumn and harvested in early to mid summer.
_______________________________________________________________



Photo / pic / image of softneck garlic braided (Allium sativum).
_______________________________________________________________

SOFTNECK GARLICS are the ones you see in the local shops and in garlic braids.
These are normally white such as the silverskins. The variety you see in the store most likely is "Colossal" or another generic variety. Stores and their customers want the whitest garlics. Flavor is good and can be from mild to very strong. The necks are more pliable than hardneck varieties so they make good candidates for braiding. Softneck garlics advantage is that they store longer, up to nine months. They generally have numerous cloves in a head.
Softnecks also are planted in the autumn with later harvesting in late summer.

Do you have garlic in your refrigerator that has begun to sprout?
Can they be used in cooking? Not likely as the cloves will feel "empty" as the plants have already used the stores to start the plants. Can the cloves be separated and planted? Sure, and garlics can be planted in the spring but generally don't do well as an annual crop.
They are genetically meant to be planted in the autumn so they can establish roots, then they wait for spring to start growing in earnest.

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PLANTING:
In most parts of the country, you want to plant your cloves about six weeks before your winter freezing weather sets in. This is to allow the cloves to send down roots and get established in the soil before hard freezing weather sets in. This keeps the garlics from being forced up and out of the soil during hard freezes and thaws. As you plant your cloves, be sure to add some good quality compost and a tablespoon of bonemeal to the bottom of the hole so the plants will have some excellent nutrition to draw upon. I plant mine about three times the size of the clove or around three inches below the surface. If you live in a colder climate with significant freezing, then do plant deeper to protect the cloves, and consider mulching, just like you do when you plant bulbs like tulips and daffodils.
Water in the cloves and you are done till spring!

OK, spring has arrived and you anxiously watch the plot for any sign of growth.........and there they are!
Now is the time to fertilize with some nitrogen based fertilizer or compost as you can see in my picture at the top right of the page. We fertilized with a home made mix of compost, bonemeal, canola seed meal, dolomite lime, and potash.
We also set up watering through soaker hoses so that we watered the plants, not the weeds.

Weeding is crucial! Let me repeat...... weeding is crucial!
The next most important chore you need to be vigilant about is weeding! Garlics do not want to compete with other vegetation! So semi-weekly weeding with a hoe is necessary. Do not dig down in the ground around the plants or you can tear up the developing bulbs. Just a light scratching of the soil is all you need to keep the weeds at bay.
I use a "hula hoe" and love it!



HARVESTING:

By the first of July, I can see that my crop is getting ready to be harvested. How do I know? First of all, the weather has gotten hotter so I know that the bulbs are forming underground and secondly by observing the plants. Now the tops are starting to brown and die back, a sure sign that harvest time is near. So I stop watering about ten days to two weeks before harvesting.
This is necessary so the plants can start to "hardened" the outside of the bulbs.

Mid July is here and it's time to harvest.
The plants have now browned to about 60-75 percent. I gently pull on the first plant and it comes up easily! Of course, mine are planted more shallow than most of you will do so the bulb is nearer the surface.
Most gardeners will need to gently spade around the plant in order to get the bulb loosened and pulled up.

CURING AND STORAGE:
Now all that is left is to "cure" the bulbs and store for usage. Curing refers to allowing the bulbs to dry out in a warm but shaded area. Don't wash your plants but let the soil dry naturally, then brush off when you are ready to store or hang. I am drying mine on a pallet so that air can circulated around the plants. As you can see by the picture, garlics need to be dried in a single layer. Drying takes from two to three weeks depending on the weather or your choice of storage area. Some people will braided them and hang for curing. What is important is that the plants have good circulation of warm, dry air so that mold and mildew doesn't take hold. When your garlics are done curing, then clip off the top to about 1.5 inches from the bulb and you may snip back the roots. Garlics can be stored in a dark, dry, cool place such as a basement, storage room etc and used as needed. Check them periodically as some varieties do not store as long as others. Ideal storage temperatures would be in the 40's to 50's. Don't forget to keep your biggest and best bulbs for this year's autumn planting! Rotate your crops each year.
Garlics are pretty much pest free but can pick up soil diseases which can devastate a crop.

Thanks for reading my tutorial on garlic growing. This tutorial is from my own personal experience so soils, growing conditions and weather may be different for your location and you may need to amend these guidelines to fit your situation. Most of all, have fun in your garden!

ALL NATURAL PEST SRAY:
Here is a simple homemade recipe for an effective bug spray for your garden!" Place one peeled onion, two peeled garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 cups of water and blend until smooth. Let the mixture sit overnight, then carefully strain the liquid into a spray bottle. I bet this would be effective in discouraging Fido or Fluffy from using your favorite rose bush or flower bed as a toliet!
Refigerate unused solution and discard after thirty days.

Happy Gardening! Joyce Moore

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joyce Moore is an avid home gardener and a graduate of OSU Master Gardener program in 2000. Please visit her at http://www.virtualseeds.com for more online home gardening tutorials.

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:25 pm; edited 3 times in total
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good, I'll have to have a go at planting some, I just wondered though, regarding the reference to bone meal, what can you use as a substitute?

Also, getting ahead of myself here Smile but here's a site which explains how to braid garlic. Which is pretty Cool
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verge
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:17 am    Post subject: What fertiliser to use apart from bone meal. Reply with quote

crosseyedsheep wrote:
bone meal, what can you use as a substitute?



You can also use "fish,blood / meal" or pelleted chicken manure.
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
crosseyedsheep wrote:
bone meal, what can you use as a substitute?




You can also use "fish,blood / meal" or pelleted chicken manure.


Great thanks, how about normal chicken manure? My mother keeps chickens.
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what's the best thing to do if elephant garlic starts to develop a flower bud? ignore it or remove it?
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Sunny
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yum cant beat fresh garlic from the garden, cat even compare it to the stuff you get in the supermarket.
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

for some reason, my garlic has faltered; it didn't go in till early feb, and was slow to poke its head above ground - and now what did show above ground hasn't shown any signs of growth in weeks, and some have actually disappeared.
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Rocky1
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HI mine too, somebody said garlic grows well in pots so i put load in pots before the start of wintger but the very bad winter must have killed them. i planted more in the allotment after the worst of the winter and it is bearly sticking it's head up????
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:23 pm    Post subject: growing garlics Reply with quote

My garlic cloves went in mid Feb. been watered regularly due to the unbelievable drought over here (less than two inches of rain since 1st Feb) and are growing but very poorly. BTW, Right back at the start of this thread is a first class article from 2006 by "The Boss" on garlic growing. Have any of you actually read it? You SHOULD.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
HI mine too, somebody said garlic grows well in pots so i put load in pots before the start of wintger but the very bad winter must have killed them. i planted more in the allotment after the worst of the winter and it is bearly sticking it's head up????


Pots offer far less insulation all round than typical soil planting, so it is possible that your garlic suffered from the cold winter.
some container gardeners have taken to lining the inside wall of their pots with bubble wrap to provide extra insulation, something to think about.
I would not give up hope on your garlic just yet, as growth has been really slow so far this year I've found.

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Rocky1
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi thanks James, i have noticed that most of the bulbs are still a live so i will give them more time.

thanks
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

will garlic do OK in a polytunnel?
it's not heated.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I planted a dozen garlic cloves out last October from the same shop bought bulbs and in the mild couple of weeks that followed, I had 4 sprout. However, the rest haven't appeared at all. Should I replant some new cloves while there's still time? I'm guessing that with the mild few weeks we've just had, the remaining cloves should have sprouted by now - so it's likely they've been nobbled??
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi! I have about 150 garlic bulbs to plant ASAP. I usually use a 6" equidistant block spacing, and about the same depth. Is there a better spacing/depth to use? It's in raised beds.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi tippben, I kept the spacing about 6", but only 2 or 3 inches in depth. I worked in a bit of homemade compost and put a spoonful of fb&b at the bottom of each hole. I suppose what I'm wondering is will the remaining cloves sprout in the spring (although at 14 degrees it feels like spring right now!) or should I just write them off and replant a few more?
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