What type of fertilizer to use on garlic

nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)April 21, 2009

My garlic is growing now and I have read that I should side dress with fertilizer now. It doesn't say what to use? Can someone help? Prefer something organic.

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TJG911(z5b CT)

i just spray with neptune's harvest fish emulsion 2 or 3 times max. like onions, garlic does not require a lot of fertilizing. i did amend the soil with bone meal & blood meal at planting tho i forgot to use compost and i realized that when i was finished! boy was i mad but that's life.

as far as side dressing with compost, i have a solid layer of mulch and i think it'd be wasting the compost so i never do that. 2" of salt marsh hay and 5" of finely shredded leaves all compacted to about 2" thick.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 9:03PM
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orchard17(z5 SE NH)

When I planted my cloves this past fall I gave them each a handful of castings from my red worms. Since early march i have fertilized twice with compost tea from said worms and do not plan on fertilizing any more. i think i read somewhere on this forum that you shouldn't fertilize after may. someone feel free to correct me if i'm wrong. i want the best bulbs possible...........

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Between the time when the garlic pops up and summer solstice is the most critical time period for garlic. I'm in northern Maine, so that leaves 2 months, IF I'm lucky. Right now, I've still got snow and ice on some on my garlic. The more leaves that a garlic plant can grow during this time period, the larger the bulb, and the more cloves that it will make. Use nitrogen to stimulate leaf growth. Stop fertilizing after the summer solstice. The garlic plant will then use the nutrients in its leaves to make the bulb. If it doesn't have many leaves, the bulb will be small. People who live in warmer climates with longer springs often don't need to fertilize their garlic, but fertilization will still benefit the plants.

I use urea sprinkled around the plants, once per week. For example, with urea, my German Extra Hardy (porcelain) often grows 7+ feet tall with the scapes cut off, and the bulb often gets over 4 inches in dia., and usually has 4-5 cloves. Without urea, the plants only get maybe 2 feet tall with 1 to 1-1/2 inch dia. bulbs and have 2 cloves. People often mistake my German Extra Hardy for elephant garlic.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 2:23AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I don't know if Someguy will come back and read this post, but I just have to say:

7FT????? Are you serious?! (Do you have a picture, 'cause I would love to see that.) Man, that give me something to think about...

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 3:57PM
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I don't think that I have any pics, but I might. I'll check and if I do, I'll post them.

I used German Extra Hardy as an example to show what proper fertilization can do for garlic. I could have just as easily used Music or several other varieties. I used German Extra Hardy as my example because it is known for its vigorous growth and large bulbs.

Unfortunately for us up here in this region, porcelain types grow best for us, and they only have a few very large cloves per bulb. I really wish that we could easily grow garlic with lots of small cloves, but alas, they are more suited for warmer regions.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 12:37AM
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bloosquall(Wa 6)

I think someguyinmaine is pulling your leg about a 7' GEH plant or any other garlic for that matter. I grow 15,000 plants a year and have never seen or heard of one that big. I'd have to see that to believe it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:23PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

SO back to my original question - I am assuming by some answers that I need a high nitrogen fertilizer. How high? I have already dressed with dried blood. I won't use fish emulsion for fear of attracting raccoons or worse around my hens.

I could make manure tea I suppose.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 9:31AM
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What fertilizer to use depends to some degree on how fertile your soil was to start with. I have mine tested each year and supplement accordingly. If you have not had it tested, then use any balance organic fertilizer but definitely favor nitrogen to support vigorous green growth in the spring. A strong growth above ground will make for larger bulbs underground.

Most organic fertilizers will take weeks to become available to the plants, so it's a bit late for many types. Dried blood, however, breaks down fairly fast and is high in nitrogen, so top dressing with it is probably all you need to do. I use it at a rate of 1 lb per 100 sq ft in early March, early April, and early May - then stop as too much nitrogen at bulbing time in late June will reduce bulb growth.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 1:29PM
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bloosquall(Wa 6)


TomNJ is giving you great information...Listen to him, I do.

Here is a link that might be useful: university of MN extension

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:40PM
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TJG911(z5b CT)

bloosquall that link is a wealth of info. i've grown garlic for about 5 years and have good notes but i found some new info i added to my gardening document. thanks!


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 6:16PM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

I've been using soy meal for the past 10 years or so, was advised to do so by an expert at the Garlic Festival. The soymeal (a hog fattener, apparently from Agway, about $15 for 50 pound sack) I'm a little vague on the amount to put. I sprinkle it liberally and mix it into to soil when I plant the bulbs in the fall. It breaks down over the winter and provides the nitrogen. I've noticed a definite improvement in size since I've been doing this. The other thing the expert suggested is Potassium (he said "super K", I ran around like a fool asking for "super K" at the garden centers, finally someone reminded me that K is the symbol for potassium. He said to put some when you plant for root growth and then again late May, early June to signal the bulbs "it's time to fatten up"

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 3:58PM
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So...what about fertilizing in a Florida winter? I've applied fish emulsion, and saw noticeable difference in my garlic's foliage, but, how will it affect bulb growth come spring? I feel like every piece of advice I read about on the web comes from Northern gardeners, seems like the only ones gardening in FL is UF and this guy.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 10:06AM
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I only grow elephant garlic but I have used Peters or Miricle grow in the past. I have mushroom compost this year and with about 3 months to go before harvest, my raised bed garlic is looking great. I am in upstate SC. We had temperatures as low as 11 above this winter. I planted in October.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 3:54PM
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