Depth of Garlic

LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)February 8, 2013

Last fall, I planted two types of garlic-Spanish Roja and Duganski. I thought I planted them plenty deep. I pushed them into freshly tilled soil about twice as deep as the clove. But the soil seems to have settled(crazy, huh?) and the tips of the cloves are sticking out of the earth a smidgen. They have new growth on them-mainly the duganski, most of the spanish roja haven't shown themselves yet. What I am wondering is do I need to recover them so they are deeper while growing this spring? Or will they be okay?

I would really appreciate some advice so I don't lose this garlic. I have been looking forward to them since I ordered the seed garlic last fall. Thank you.


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gemini_jim(7 MD)

They should be fine. The old clove rots away, and the plant somehow finds the level it likes. If they're anything like mine, your bulbs will still probably end up several inches below the surface.

You could mulch them up a bit for a little protection, but remove most of the mulch in the spring so the soil gets a chance to warm and dry a bit.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 1:13PM
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They are fine as long as they have roots below the soil. I have literally seen bulbs growing completely out of the soil, and they still reach full size.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:26PM
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LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)

Okay, thanks for the reassurance. Ill put a little straw down and stop worrying.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:30PM
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largemouth(Z6 NY)

Still winter. Can't hurt to drop a bunch of mulch on 'em. And, with respect to my Gemini brother (June 2nd here, Jim), no need to remove mulch which the plants will blast through in the spring with NO effort. I plant my garlic 4 inches deep here on the cusp of zone 5 and 6 in NY. 6-8 inches of mulch on top of 500 or so plants. If I see they have not come up in the row I planted, I softly dig up what's stopping them from popping up. Never more than 5 or 6 plants. They would eventually make it through the mulch either way. Looking at 18-24 inches of snow here tonight, so it's nice to think of March and the beginning of the garlic poking up through the ground.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:46PM
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I second the suggestion to mulch and I'd fertilize, too, as it is the time of year when active growth starts again, at least, it is here.

Mine are planted about 5-6 inches deep which works because the gophers require that I grow in raised beds using a very light mix.

As far as checking to see what is going on while the plants are growing, I'd say you should just learn to be patient. I have no trouble with the early varieties (all softies) coming up all at once, but the hard necks take their darn time and only about a quarter to a third come up soon after planting. The rest have just started to turn on the growth as it has been plenty chilly here for those that like it that way. I have had cloves un-planted by birds or some other wild life and I just pushed them back into the soil and they did fine.

This is the first year I have had 100% germination, btw.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:09AM
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gemini_jim(7 MD)

Largemouth, I agree the plants have no problem growing up through the mulch. The reason for removing the mulch is to let the sun and air get to the soil, otherwise there is some risk of mold or rot. Of course it all depends on your local conditions. I have heavy clay soil which needs all the help it can get to get warm and dry out in the spring. I reduce my mulch to a thin layer in mid March or so. I'll start adding it back a couple months later when the heat starts.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:25AM
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largemouth(Z6 NY)

Copy that, Jim. You are considerably south of here. Lynn Marie is closer to my growing zone.

No clay in this neck of the woods. But, you probably don't have a foot of snow sitting on your plants right now.

Have not had problems with rot and mold except for a few heads a year. Will trade those heads for less weeding any day. And so, the mulch works really well here.

Spring is around the corner. Nice, eh?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:53PM
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Keep in mind that the roots of a garlic plant actually pull the clove deeper into the soil. In its native climate, the cold/warm cycles cause significant frost-heave and the plant would be in danger of just coming out altogether.

If you've ever left a head of garlic in the soil accidentally, the next fall the new growth will be significantly deeper than when you planted the original clove the year before.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:01AM
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LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)

I definatly don't have any clay in my yard. It is very nice well-draining soil.

I recently brought home 2+ year old cow manure. In the process of spreading it over my garden area, I decided to place some over the emerging garlic as a fertilizer/mulch. In your experience, will that be a benefit? Or will the manure still be too hot and burn my garlic? I just put a very thin layer on top of the ground, maybe 1/8" deep.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:58AM
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gemini_jim(7 MD)

LynnMarie, 2+ year old cow manure shouldn't burn them, and will give them a nice nutritional boost as the active growing season resumes.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:12PM
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LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)

Okay, thank you Gemini Jim

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 10:30PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Agreed. 2 year old manure is pretty mature - most of the nitrogen has vanished by that point.

still_kris, you mentioned this:

"Mine are planted about 5-6 inches deep which works because the gophers require that I grow in raised beds using a very light mix."

Could you say more about that?
Do you mean that you grow in raised beds because otherwise the gophers would eat your garlic? And the light mix is because that what works best in raised beds? And since it's light 5-6 inches is no problem? I am new to gardening in gopher country and just looking for clues.

I am midway through putting in a 'fort knox' bed with hardware cloth underneath for growing sweet tubers like yacon, carrots and sweet potatoes. But I am hoping to be able to grow some less-attractive stuff in ordinary double-dug beds. They left some kale and tomatoes intact last year, but devastated just about everything else veggie wise.

Will they eat garlic? Leeks? Green onions?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:49AM
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Yes, yes, yes and yes. The gophers will eat just about anything and all of it. I have lost several 6' tall rhododendrons to them and many other plants that are considered poisonous.

Many of my ornamental plants are planted in gopher wire baskets, they give the plants a chance to grow enough roots to survive the predation by the gophers. By the time the root system is well developed the wire baskets are starting to rust--best case, in the worst case the baskets have been damaged by lawn mowers or weed whackers and rust sooner.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:54AM
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Also, cow manure is pretty darn think nutritionally. I find that a good dose of blood meal at about this time of year is what the garlic wants. They want lots and lots of nitrogen as healthy leaves make for healthy bulbs.

Some professional garlic farmers have contributed to some of the older posts and a lot of great information is available in them. Recently it seems to be just us hobby growers.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:56AM
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LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)

Did you mean "thin" nutritionally? If I add the blood meal along with the manure, will I be okay? I want some nice, big, healthy garlic. I think I will spend some time this afternoon researching those older threads.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Yes, thin nutritionally, considered a mulch rather than a feeding. I get HUGE garlic and believe that there is no thing as too much organic nutrition. You can skip the manure and just use blood meal and get great results.

Or so I learned from the professional farmers on the site.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:56AM
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