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Thursday, March 8, 2012

All the Garlic Questions

I was reminded by Mark's recent garlic post that it's almost garlic planting time here. And I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I can't seem to get garlic right. The first time I grew garlic they sprouted but were tiny. And then I realised it was because I put them in a stupid spot that didn't get sun over winter. Duh! In my defense I am fairly new to this veg growing caper and looking at where the sun shone in my garden over winter wasn't really a priority before. They were also small because I was impatient and dug them up too early. My second time (last year) they were in a perfectly sunny, recently composted and manured site. Should have worked out well. But they didn't. I only got a couple of good heads. Quite a few rotted. And I don't know what happened to the rest but there was nowhere near enough garlic to keep me going for even a few months.

This year I've been looking through my garden catalogues and pondering garlic again. But garlic is so expensive to buy this way. I usually buy my seeds from Diggers but it costs almost $10 for two lousy bulbs. I can't remember how much I planted last year but two bulbs surely won't be enough.

I've recently expanded my horizons and looked into other seed sellers following Liz's post at Suburban Tomato earlier this year. Eden Seeds sell 1kg of Australian White for $30 or $40 for 1kg of purple monaro. But I'm not sure what 1kg of garlic cloves will look like in my patch - maybe too much? Although I could always go halves with a friend.

Last year I bought a few heads of organic garlic from the market and planted them. Maybe that was why I was unsuccessful?

I remember seeing Hazel's garlic post and realised that I could make much better use of my space. She did loads and loads of garlic and planted them closer than I did. My garlic could be squished in much closer this time. Believe it or not I used to get an actual ruler out and follow the spacing directions on packets! (I know- hard to believe when you see my haphazard garden).

So what do you all do?
• How much garlic do you plant?
• Where do you get your bulbs from?
• What sort would be the best to get when you're a garlic-growing failure like me?
• What are your tricks and tips?

I really, really, really want garlic this year.


24 comments:

  1. Um...here in Suffolk, UK 'tis said that garlic needs at least 6 weeks of very cold weather when first in the ground to do any good...it might help... we plant in November here :)x

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  2. I planted some and it was so small that my daughter asked if she could use it for her Sylvanian Family house! But I have no luck with allium where i live, to much clay, to much rain, to much forest around... the only allium (a part from chives) that grow here are leeks, so I leave my space to the leeks and buy the garlic :-).

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  3. I planted garlic last year (an early red type and a regular white) and I found the white type rotted (or was stolen - do mice steal garlic like they steal broad bean seeds?) and nothing came up, but the red type did quite well. I have read that garlic like well draining soil and doesn't like to be sitting in water, so this year I'm replanting but I'm going to put a good layer of sand mixed in with the soil beneath the garlic cloves when planting and see if that helps.

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  4. We started the garlic planting tradition with organic bulbs bought from the market. We reserve some of the harvest for next years planting. This way it has been very cost effective. We plant as much as we can and any surplus is used in the kitchen. I was quite gob smacked to read how much Diggers is charging. Must be a rare type of garlic to warrant such a big price tag!

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  5. I plant my garlic about 2 weeks before my first freeze. Garlic is like a tulip for it to develop a flower it needs a lot of hours below 50 degrees or colder to start dividing. Garlic like rich soil like an onion also likes a lot of phosphorus when planted. I plant mine were there is about two inches of soil over the top of them. They will grow a little then stop until it warms up then water them good and give them lots of nitrogen. I plant A artichoke variety and when its ready to harvest the leaves start dying from the bottom up now at this time pull one and see if the bulb has formed. And heck you can use garlic from the store if you want to just play with it. They will grow just fine...Good luck love your blog...

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  6. Hi VG, i can imagine how disappointed you were with your garlic harvest.Of all crops i grow garlic is my favorite and it has taken a bit of time to learn how to grow it best where i live. Firstly its planted into a raised bed following a previous crop sometimes tomatoes, i don't add any manure just dig soil over and around April when it starts to get cold sprinkle with lime.(Lots of veggies like lime,but some don't including tomatoes,potatoes,strawberries and blueberries.)
    Late May i plant out bulbs(from last years crop, which i brought from diggers a long time ago and wasn't that expensive then) about 10/20cm apart.
    Some crops need a certain amount of cold days (cherrys and apples too) and at our place we do get as low as -5C, maybe that helps. Hope that helps a little.
    Happy gardening!!

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  7. You have read my mind, I have had much the same experience in trying to grow garlic as you have had, down to buying two bulbs from Diggers. Thanks for putting all the questions oput thetre. I will be reading up to see what comes in. Its great isnt it, there are always people out there with 'the knowledge'.

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  8. You know I'm not best qualified to answer your questions...! I once tried growing garlic from shop-bought heads (i.e. ones intended to be food), but they didn't do well and I was discouraged. I suppose "seed" garlic is different in some way. I anticipate that each clove sown will produce about 8 - 10 cloves of new garlic, but I'm not expecting to be self-sufficient with my 23 cloves! When the replacements for the mouldy garlic arrive, I might try putting them in pots, so that I can move them around to optimize their growing conditions.

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  9. I have been buying my seed garlic from New Gippsland: https://newgipps.com.au/subcategory.asp?id=387 you can either buy lots of 10 cloves or more cheaply they do 500g of Ítalian Common for $17. I ordered the later last year and it was more than enough for me to plant about 120 cloves and give a couple of heads to a friend. I plant in April. I did have some bulbs rot last year - it was very wet during November from memory but I also had some good ones. The good ones were the ones I left in the ground longest - til the foliage had pretty much completely died down and there was almost no green on it at all. I find it puts on most growth (ie the bulbs get fatter) right at the very end so harvesting early will mean smaller bulbs. I do find that the fattest clvoes produce the fattest heads but it might be my imagination. My parents grow better garlic than me but they get much colder winters - like Andrea's so the cold definitely helps. I plant cloves about 15cm apart and I do use a ruler to measure. Oh and as much sun as you can give them will help.

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  10. Over here in the UK, I've only ever planted seed garlic and it's the first produce in which we've become self-sufficient. I have fairly heavy clay soil with lots of homemade compost dug in and the garlic gets fed with comfrey tea once the cold weather is replaced by sun (or at least what passes for it over here). Bulbs can rot if they stand in cold saturated earth for too long when they're first planted but they definitely need that period of frosty temps in order for the clove to form into a new bulb. Keep watering well through hot/dry periods otherwise the bulbs won't swell. and Liz (above) is right - the fatter cloves produce the fattest new bulbs. I always save the 4 or 5 biggest bulbs from each harvest (in July/August over here) and plant those out in Nov for the next years crop. This means you start to develop a strain of garlic that is ideally suited for the conditions in your garden.

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  11. I have grown gsrlic for a few years now and agree with Suburban veg gardener a good comfrey tea mix will help them and you just have to be patient with them they need a long growing season I always plant mine on remembrance sunday that way they can get a good start before the cold weather comes.

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  12. Hi VG; Re your comment on my blog... If you get good results with Celeriac, I'll want to know how! I have found it very difficult to achieve worthwhile results, but maybe your conditions will suit it better. As regards recipes, be sure to try Celeriac and Potato gratin (done like Dauphinoise) - it's delicious.

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  13. Hullo! I plant mine at full moon leave them in until they flower and the flower dies. Then I wait until it's been dry weather for a few days so the soil is dry when I harvest so they don't rot. I plant LOADS of it from garlic I've grown in precious seasons. I've tried diggers and also just organic garlic leftover. Good luck!!

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  14. I got my original garlic stock in the post from Simon at Ethical Strength (http://garlicworld.com.au/garlic-varieties/) He's s specialist garlic grower in Port Campbell, and has lots of different varietes.

    This is my second year of growing garlic on the Mornington Peninsula. Last year I grew enough for two long braids, which ended up being just enough to get us through the year and give away about 20% of it. This year I've just done one bigger one. Should be enough me thinks.

    I don't do anything special - no hilling or mounding. I just make sure the soil is well prepared before planting (composting and manuring). I plant in late May-June and harvest in Dec-Jan, depending on when the leaves start to dry out and droop.

    After harvest, I hang the bulbs up on the line in the sun to dry for a week or so - then brush em with a stiff wire brush and braid them.

    http://www.landforveggies.blogspot.com

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  15. I tried garlic for the first time last year. I had 4 bulbs in total and I was pretty happy with how they went along. I just plocked them in with some old manure and compost (full sun) and then pretty much ignored them except for the occasional weed (they hate competition apparently). Four bulbs wasn't enough though, this year I'm planting at least 10. I've just ordered them... from Diggers I must admit, but lots of other people don't post plants to SA so we're a little more limited!

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  16. Hi VG. Plant them on the Autumn equinox (21 March) or thereabouts in a well prepared bed. The trick is, I think, to look after them well in the beginning so that they get a good head start before the winter sets in. Keep them moist, and feed them with fish emulsion or seaweed extract a couple or three times. Then forget them...except do keep the weeds at bay. They don't like competition. I think I weeded mine about three times. I also think I pulled mine a bit early but was still thrilled. Amounts...one bulb has about six or seven cloves. I would try a couple of sources (and I am happy to send you some). Once you have a successful harvest, you will never need to buy bulbs for planting again.

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  17. Hi VG I am in QLD so it is a bit different for me as it is so much warmer. Last year I did not plant till May but for me this worked. I planted out 6 bulbs from Diggers. Here is the link to my harvest post and within that there is a link to when I planted http://lifeatarbordalefarm.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/great-garlic-harvest.html
    I planted mine about 10cm apart with about 20cm between rows. I planted all the cloves even the very little ones and they pretty much all produced bulbs. There is just the 2 of us but we do like garlic so for us the 6 bulbs seem to be about right as we still have plenty left to get us through till this years are ready.

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  18. Hi Vegie Gobbler, love your blog! It's a wee bit of a family promotion here, but I've just planted some bulbs in my backyard from my Dad - He runs an organic garlic farm in Northern NSW. He'll happily chat and give you some growing advice too if that's all you need? Check out the website - http://www.rochfordorganicgarlic.com.au/
    My only other guess would be to grow it in pots? It worked pretty well for me last year (in Melb).

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  19. I grew garlic this year from bulbs from the store. They seems to be growing really well for a change. I have them in raised beds, planted them in the fall.

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  20. Hi VG, we live in a cool climate here and I tend to plant them late april/early may for a Nov/Dec harvest. Last year I grew the big purple one (sorry, no idea of technical name!) and they cropped really well. I have them in raised beds in full sun, and like others have said here, ensure there are no weeds...and thats about it!!! I am pretty slack when it comes to fertilising etc and they seem to do better if I don't interfere! Best of luck! Home grown garlic is the best!

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  21. I share your frustration VG, growing it successfully seems to be quite random! Your post has made me realise that without thinking about it this year I am trying it in a number of different ways to see what works best for me. I've bought a few from Diggers and some from the local farmers market. I was also going to plant some of my rather small cloves from last year, but reading the comments you've had, that doesn't sound like a good idea. I'm putting some in raised garden beds with great soil and drainage, some in garden beds with poor soil and drainage, and some in polystyrene boxes. This is suddenly sounding like a science experiment! I'd better make sure I label everything clearly before I forget what's what. Best wishes with your crop, I look forward to hearing how it goes.

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  22. Ah!!! This is too funny! I was just writing a post about why my garlic didn't make cloves when I came across this post. I'm so glad that I found your blog!

    Your newest follower,
    Margaret
    Two in the Nest

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  23. Hi Dixiebelle, I managed to weed them a couple of weeks ago! I'd been a bit neglectful but I think they're growing... slowly. Hope yours are going well.

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