Hardneck and Elephant Garlic, Do you 'tuck them' in soil?

humpbacks1962(Connecticut, 6)May 2, 2007

I planted several hardneck varieties, and some elephant in raised beds last fall. I mulched with straw, which I recently removed. My stems are thick, and very green.

I was concerned about how low the soil level was after I removed the straw. So, I added some finished compost to cover the stems a bit. Before, I could see the purple. Now, just barely.

My question is, should they be left more exposed, or is it OK to tuck their necks in a little more, like I did?

BTW, my layers of straw and fall leaves made those raised beds boxes of black, black soil over the winter! It is fantastic! I still sprinkled around some epsom salt this season anyway.

So, should I remove some of that compost to air out those stems, or is it OK to leave them tucked in, hoping the bulbs continue to grow?


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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

I don't think that you have much to worry about ... the top portion of my garlic that will grow into the head is around 2 inches deep at this point and I've not had any problem at this depth. Never had any success with elephant garlic so can't help there.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 12:45PM
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These are not delicate plants and should do fine. Remember that on the hardneck garlic you should cut off the scapes so all the strength goes into the bulbs. Scapes are good in omelets, stir-fried... Don't allow them to get past the tender green stage.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 7:08PM
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humpbacks1962(Connecticut, 6)

What is that, the green, long leaves? Do I have to trim them all off?


    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 7:17PM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Nope, leave the long green leaves. In about a month or so, you'll see a stalk emerge from the center of the hardneck garlics - about the thickness of a pencil. It's actually a seed stalk and if left to its own, it will grow above the plant and initially curl up to three times and stay that way for a few weeks. It will then uncurl and probably stand 3 or so feet above the plant and turn hard and woody before opening the top capsule to reveal a bunch of little seed-like things called bulblets. These could be planted the next season but it'll take two years before they get big enough to give nice sized heads.

The rationale to cut off the seed stalks - scapes - is to have the garlic put all of its energy into producing the biggest bulb possible. In some garlic varieties, this matters much more than others but they're such good eating that I usually just leave one on per variety to compare maturity and play around with planting the bulblets.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:42AM
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humpbacks1962(Connecticut, 6)

Thank you so much for the info.

I planted all my garlic last fall. All hardneck, I hate softneck! Looks like those scapes will come out in the next few weeks. Right on time for your advice! Thanks again


    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 7:17AM
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