What to do with my garlic?

diggerdee zone 6 CTOctober 8, 2012

A few months ago I posted that I waited way too long to get my Chinese Pink garlic out of the ground, and asked what to do about some of the cloves having no skin.

Well, for an encore, I'm even more embarrassed to admit that I never went back at that point to dig up the remainder of the garlic. Life just got in the way, and now I have garlic, planted last fall, sprouting again in the garden.

Is it all ruined? Can I save it at all? If I leave it in the ground can I harvest it next year, or should I dig it up now, separate the cloves, and replant them, even if they are actively growing?

Thank you for any suggestions!


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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

I hope you requested a refund. If not, do so now.

I hope you didn't plant any of the batch, even if they looked okay. Some garlic diseases can contaminate the ground for years.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:10PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

It's all an experiment.

I think that if you leave it in the garden, the bulbs will try to split and their cloves will be scrunched and won't form bulbs correctly, although they will try.

Hopefully someone with better advice then mine will chime in but,

I would carefully dig it up, split the cloves apart (with as little damage to the roots as possible) and replant immediately.

I forget if you were concerned about disease or not. Although I have not seen diseases in my garden, I am determined to prevent them and I did trade/buy some this year...After a 2 week chilling, I soaked the popped cloves in a gallon of water that had a tablespoon each of baking soda and liquid seaweed. I used a plate to hold the cloves down, in a 5 gallon bucket. Then, I soaked the cloves in alcohol for a few minutes prior to planting.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:48PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

That's a new GW twist... I think jean001a's post is misplaced, I just saw it in another thread where it made sense in the context.

Anyhow, back when I started growing garlic, I played around with planting at different times and leaving bulbs in place for more than one season, etc. If you leave it alone, you will have several cloves all trying to form heads in very close proximity next spring. I have done that when I grow it for green garlic and don't care about subsequent bulb formation. Otherwise, you can indeed dig it up now and pull the cloves apart and replant them. Don't worry overly much about being super careful, just try not to nick the cloves. Cheers!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:03AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Thanks, sunnibel, for the explanation regarding jean001's post - I couldn't figure out how on earth it applied to my question!

And thanks to both you and austinnhanasmom for your replies. You've confirmed my thoughts. To be honest, I figured that if I left it in the ground the individual cloves would try unsuccessfully to grow into heads. But I wasn't sure if digging it up would ruin it. I guess if it won't grow successfully anyway there is no harm in digging and replanting.

Sigh. Now to find time to do that! Gee, that's twice as much work as planting a new order, lol.

If anyone is still reading, one more question - do I need to be careful with the leaves? Some of them are a good six inches above ground. Will I mess things up if I damage them while replanting?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:43AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hmm, I'm not sure. The leaves are likely to get burned by frost over the course of the winter, but I don't know what would happen if you damaged them now. Probably not too much would be my guess, but it is just a guess. Anyway, just get out your digging trowel, and dig straight down an inch or so out from where the leaves ar emerging and pry/pull the bulbs up. If you injure a couple it probably won't matter unless you are trying to save every last bulb to replant (and ending up with 5 times the garlic as last year).

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:28PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I don't know either, about damaging the leaves. But garlic is incredibly hardy. Probably why you can never rid your bed of elephant garlic, once planted.

This year, I slightly moved and enlarged my bed. I rototilled so many amendments, the area critters were high fiving me as I left the bed! Rabbits created a den in the alfalfa meal haven...

After all of this, somehow a clove sprouted.

Of course, I stepped on it while planting my desired cloves...

We'll see how that volunteer and then abused clove does next spring.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:30PM
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Garlic is tough stuff! Chances are the plants will be nipped back this winter anyway, unless you cover the bed with a row cover tunnel or something similar. Do try to preserve the leaves, and plant the cloves plenty deep, at 3 to 4 inches. You need only plant the big outer cloves that are sprouting. You can eat the smaller ones. And, you can stick some of those sprouters in a big pot and keep it in a sunny, protected place. Cut the greens just above the soil line for eating, and they will regrow twice before they are ready for the compost pile.

Here is a link that might be useful: garlic ebook

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:06AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Thank you all so much! I decided to try to dig it up and replant. Actually, I walked out there today and was kind of surprised at how much I really did leave in the ground. (sigh). Way too much to dig up and replant, so I have offered bulbs to my co-workers to see if they would like to give it a shot. Hopefully I'll have some takers, and then I'll replant what's left.

I've had green leaves on my garlic in the past, going into winter, and even with winter die-back, the garlic usually comes through in spring, with a heavy layer of leaf mulch. So maybe I don't have to worry too much about the leaves on these.

Thank you all so much for your help, suggestions, and links. Hopefully next year I can post and tell everyone that not only did I have a great crop, but I got it out of the ground on time!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 5:54PM
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