Anyone growing garlic in 5 gallon buckets?

gaetanol(z6NY)August 16, 2011

I've never grown garlic before, but I'd like to plant some this fall for next year.

I have raised beds with soil very rich in compost (I get it from the town for free). I tried to overwinter a rutabaga once, and it was just a mushy mess the next spring. So, I am concerned about planting garlic in the beds in my very snowy winter and wet springs.

I thought I might try to plant some in 5 gallon buckets, then leave the buckets in my garage (which stays pretty cold).

I'm looking for any advice from anyone growing garlic in raised beds, especially Northeast gardeners, or from anyone growing garlic in 5 gallon buckets.



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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Most folks from the NE just plant garlic in the late winter/spring, as soon as the ground thaws enough to work it.
You can do the same with the 5 gallon bucket. Lots of mulch can help with any late, hard freezes.
I wouldn't plant in the bucket this fall though, it'll sprout and start growing and then you'll have to keep it inside in a sunny window. The soil in a bucket outside will freeze easily and kill the garlic.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 5:28PM
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"I'm looking for any advice from anyone growing garlic in raised beds, especially Northeast gardeners..."

I don't grow in raised beds, but am in the NE. I plant anywhere between mid-Oct. to mid-Dec., tip of the clove at least an inch deep. My favorite mulch is shredded leaves but grass clippings, straw, old hay, pine needles will work too. Not whole leaves, they will mat and prevent shoots from getting sunlight. Based on observation mulching carrots/leeks/parsnips over winter, a couple inches of mulch prevents soil freeze.

We have had brutal low temps some winters but never to the detriment of garlic.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 6:18AM
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My first question is why would you even want to screw with it? Why dont you just rent a plot of ground and plant it. If not buy it at the farmers market. By the time you get a bucket and experiment, then get the dirt and seed you are already in enough to bought it. Why screw with it! You must have more time on your hand than common sense alone.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:25PM
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gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)

boy that was harsh!!!!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 1:17PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

No doubt. Harsh is an understatement.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 1:18AM
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elffriend(zone 5 ON)

I live in zone 5, southwestern Ontario. I plant my garlic in raised beds, using square foot spacing (4 cloves/sq ft) anywhere from Sept 30th to Nov 1st. I put a couple of inches of shredded leaves or straw on top and have never had a problem. In fact, I would say garlic is one of the most successful things I grow.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:01AM
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We grow garlic in a raised bed each year & it is quite a bit colder here than most parts of the country. (Z 3b)

We plant in the fall & mulch with 3 or 4 inches of leaves. Last year we put some cardboard over the leaves to hold them in place & keep some of the snow out. Once the thaw started we removed the cardboard.

It's a beautiful sight in the spring when it shoots up through the leaves & snow.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:00PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

My experience with growing garlic in a bucket was that the soil froze almost solid and stayed way too wet in the winter.

The garlic didn't die that winter, but it sure did not look at all happy when it sent up the new shoots in the spring.

I think it was the wet more than the cold that affected it.

I think you would be a lot better off growing the garlic in some kind of raised bed. If you simply don't have the room for a raised bed, then in the fall, cut the bottom out of the bucket to improve drainage.

Lois in PA

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:58PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Sorry, I missed the part about leaving the bucket in the garage.. Madroneb is right and if you dont have any other choice than a bucket, it would be best to wait until spring. Garlic planted in the fall often sprouts and grows for a while before the hard frosts hit. And you dont want to be staring at sickly yellow garlic sprouts in your garage all winter.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 3:05PM
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I've been growing garlic in 5 gal buckets for 3 years now and they do great. I plant towards the end of Oct and leave them outside all winter. They may or may not get mulched, never really noticed a difference. It's a real kick to see green shoots coming out of the snow.

Did 17-5 gallon buckets last year, mostly MUSIC and GEORGIAN FIRE, one bucket of SPANISH ROJA.

I make my own Peat, Perlite, Castings mix. Plenty of perlite to keep it light. Yes, it froze solid. Didn't seem to bother the garlic much, had a great crop. Wish my shallots did as well, but still on a learning curve with them.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 3:56PM
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Came here looking for advice on this subject and am glad to see some folks have had success with this method - sounds like good drainage, an appropriate soil mix and a bit of light mulching are key.

I'm wondering whether mulching *around* the bucket might help also? You can do this by lining a milk crate with material & setting the bucket within it - this has worked for me in terms of overwintering some berry shrubs I have growing in buckets.

I'm going to try this out this winter & will report back.

>You must have more time on your hand than common sense alone.

This was not only harsh it was also completely unhelpful. Not sure what the motivation is behind such comments - common courtesy is as important as common sense.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:53PM
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I planted potato onions and shallots in pots last winter, when I realized I didn't have time to plant them in the ground before it froze. Most years it would have worked, but last winter we had a freakishly cold freeze, and I lost all but one plant. The exposed pots and cold weather did them in.

That said, garlic is much hardier than shallots and (I now know) potato onions. I say go for it. And it turns out there are quite a few videos on youtube about just that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garlic in 5-gallon Buckets

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 7:45PM
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yeah kinda rude i wonder if people think about or even reread what they hav typed... anyways ive planted many garlic in 4 gallon buckets drainage is nessisary, a good light dirt and straw if you wish last winter the buckets were so frozen i couldnt scrape even a speck from it and this summer i had some of the largest cloves yet! go for it and as far as (insulation) goes line up the buckets along the house some wall not seen and they will do fine throw som straw on top for good measure and wella!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 12:02AM
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still_kris(z17 NoCA)

My experience is that containers work well as long as they are deep enough. I make large (3'diameter) bins out of 2X4 wire fencing lined with landscaping fabric. Nary a speck of dirt goes into those, rather a cocoa based potting soil amended with fertilizer (of course) and composted wood products. I plant in about 16" to 18" of soil, plant very closely (4"-6" triangulated) and get between 36 and 50 cloves per bed.

I get huge garlic this way. Still working on getting some good size to the Korean Red, but porcelains and my Early Italian Purple get huge with little effort.

I plant potatoes that way, too, and my yields are far beyond the basic expectations (13-15lb per pound of sets.)

The gopher population here makes it impossible to plant in the soil.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:10AM
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