new to growing garlic

matthew18(5)September 8, 2009

From what Ive read on various web sites it seems as though you plant garlic in the fall. Having said that I'm still not sure what to do next. Ive also read that you can plant a clove and that will grow into a complet bulb in the late spring early summer. Where does evryone get there garlic cloves/bulbs from? Is it safe to plant what you buy in the local supermarket? Does anyone have any suggestions on varities that grow well in zone 5 (upstate ny)? Also can you grow them in pot? Any basics would be much appreciated.Thanks

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- Yes, plant each clove separately in the ground, pointy end up, with the top about two inches below the top of the dirt. It will form a whole bulb. (You will want to mulch as it probably gets rather cold in the winter where you are.)

- I get mine online from Peaceful Valley, link is below, but most people on here get them from other sites (if you do a search you should be able to find the links.)

- You can plant the ones from the store, but if you can find a farmer's market you might do better because those bulbs are more likely to have been grown in a similar climate to yours and are probably better suited to the area.

- You can grow them in a pot, but it can be more difficult that way. They want fairly consistent water levels. But it can be done. Just make sure you give them enough space, the bulbs need room to grow.

- No idea what grows best in upstate NY but I am sure there are people on here more familiar with the area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peaceful Valley

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 9:30PM
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Hi Matthew,

There's a lot to cover, but let me try to briefly touch on a few of your questions.

Garlic is usually classified as either hardneck and softneck variety. Hardneck varieties tend to do better in colder climates and are indeed planted in the fall. You could conceivably plant garlic in the spring, but it's not really practical. Ideally, you'd want to plant as soon as the ground thaws, but your garden will likely be far too muddy to make spring planting very feasible.

It's best to plant garlic in the fall, about a month before the ground freezes. I'm in Vermont, and try to plant around mid-October. Mid-October may work fine for you, or maybe even late October to mid-November. Ideally, your goal is have the garlic germinate and establish a good root system, but you'd rather not get any top growth until spring.

There are on-line sources mentioned in other posts on this forum, but I'm afraid you may find slim pickings by this time of year. A lot of growers tend to ship in August, and have likely sold out of many varieties by now.

A couple of growers who are highly regarded are:

It is safe to grow garlic purchased from the supermarket, but it's not recommended. Two reasons for this. First, that garlic has likely been stored under refrigeration. But once it's brought out of refrigeration, it will soon sprout. More importantly, supermarket garlic is almost always a softneck variety like California White. It is a particular cultivar selected for ease of growing on a massive scale, but it's not particularly good tasting. Which is why so many of us like to grow our own!

As for best varieties, it's a matter of taste. Most hardnecks will do well where you are, but as I suggested, you might be limited to what you can find at this time of year. Hardneck garlic is further classified into a few other groups: rocambole, purple stripe, glazed purple stripe, porcelain and asiatic. Some of these (rocambole, for instance) are particularly flavorful, but short keepers.

If you don't have any luck with on-line sources, you might try checking out any fall farmer's markets in your area. I'd imagine you can find some locally grown stuff. As a bonus, you have confidence that the varieties you get are adapted to your climate.

And lastly, I assume you could successfully grow garlic in pots, but I've never tried it.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 9:52PM
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Matthew, porcelain type garlic such as German White grow especially well in NY State, but you could grow just about any variety. If you are near Saugerties NY, there is a huge two day garlic festival held every September where local growers sell garlic bulbs for planting. There are a lot of fun and educational activities at the festival, which will be 9/26 &9/27 this year.

You can get more information on the festival at:


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 4:02PM
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What if I started planting right now I'm in Ca. Would this be too early?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 2:42PM
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still_kris(z17 NoCA)

Here in coastal Northern California I usually plant in late September, but could not contain myself and have one bed planted already and will be working on the rest over the next two weeks.

Don't think it is too early for the softnecks which seem to put on a great deal of growth before the really cold weather sets in. I will wait until October to plant my 2 or 3 beds of hardneck as it doesn't seem make much growth until it is cold.

You can hardly go wrong here, or so it seems to me. I have pretty good results no matter what I do.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 7:49PM
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that is a great piece of info on the garlic festival. Thanks for the info. I'm in the clifton park area so that is ashort drive to get to..thanks again

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 8:07AM
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I stopped by a farm stand a few miles away from and picked up some locally grown "horseradish" garlic and I think the other bulbs were hard spanish garlic...does that sound right? I never heard of horseradish garlic but Im looking forward to trying a little and planting the rest

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 4:18PM
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I never heard of horseradish garlic. The "hard Spanish" garlic may be referring to Spanish Roja, which is a hardneck, and a very fine garlic.

In any case, if you like them go ahead and plant some cloves and enjoy.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 6:22PM
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Hi Matthew, I am new to growing garlic too. You are in the North and I am in the South so it will be interesting to see how we do in different areas.

I have grown stuff from the grocery and local markets but this is my first 'serious' year to plant. I ordered from gourmet garlic and they sent me a fabulous sampler with very detailed instructions - I highly recommend them. The garlic they sent me looked so good I was tempted to eat it on the spot!

Here is a link that might be useful: Spirit of Place

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 9:34PM
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I tried using the horseradish garlic on some steaks at my NY Jets tailgate this past sunday. I didnt really taste the horseradish'ness?? Oh well I will still plant it becuase I know it can grow in my area.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 7:34PM
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Do I peel the white coving off the garlic before it is planted. Thanks

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 11:21AM
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No, you can leave the wrapper on, it'll protect the clove from bruising while you plant it.

Do however break the head up into separate cloves.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 3:45PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Hi,I'm growing garli this fall for the first time and I am in the same zone as you.

I ordered from Grey Duck, I had never ordered from them before, never even heard of them before, but they sent me all fat cloves for planting (looked good enough to eat!) I ordered a variety pack of 3 different types for a total of 70. They sent German Red, Georgian Crystal and Romanian Red.

Anyway, I spoke with a local farmer who grows garlic for a hobby (not to sell) and she said to put a lot of compost and cow manure into the soil. So that's what I did.

Did you make it to saugerties for the garlic festival?I live in Albany and wanted to go but couldn't convince my husband, he thought I was crazy.

Anyway, good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Grey Duck Garlic

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 9:24PM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I'm interested in Horseradish garlic. I've never herd of it, but since I love both horseradish and garlic, hum. Assuming that it has somewhat of a horseradish taste? Where can I find some for planting? Thanks, Luke

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 6:53AM
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