I want to try planting garlic this fall for harvest next year. Anyone have comments/advice on planting garlic in the Twin Cities area. Also, what is a good local source for purchasing bulb stock? Thanks.
check out this site on the U of MN extension page
and also the allium forum. there are quite a few MN gardeners there. i have been checking that site as i am also interested in planting garlic this fall.
The seventh annual Hutchinson Garlic Festival was held this last Saturday. It is held every August. It is a fun event and is usually a great place to buy seed garlic, food garlic, and garlic related products. Many other Minnesota made or produced non-garlic related products are available as well. I urge everyone to consider attending. See link below.
Unfortunately this year all of us growers were hit by a disease that ravaged our garlic crops that was due in part to the incredibly, ridiculously mild winter and early spring we experienced this year. I lost all 10,000 of mine, every last one of them. Many other Minnesota growers were wiped out as well. As a result there was hardly any garlic for sale at the event this year and much of it looked to be in poor condition. I found some good clean seed stock from a vendor out of Iowa and bought $100 worth of garlic to start over. Time will tell if this disease is now in the soil and will ravage every crop from now on. If my little crop next year gets infected again, that will be the end of growing garlic for me.
Other local sources of seed garlic would be farmer's markets. Lots of people sell garlic but often they do not know what variety it is. If that matters to you, then these sources might be a problem (you can always ask the vendor, maybe they know the names of the varieties they are selling).
Lots of companies out there that sell seed garlic as well, but most you have to purchase in advance of harvest. Probably not much available out there now. Also beware of the disease called "Garlic Bloat Nematode" or "GBN". It was not the problem we had this year but it could be much worse because it is already decimating crops in some areas of the United States and Canada. You want to purchase seed garlic from reputable companies that warrant their product to be tested free from GBN. Otherwise you might bring it into Minnesota and not only will it destroy your garlic but it will help to contaminate Minnesota and destroy the nascent gourmet garlic industry here - you will be contributing to a crippling, devastating problem that will destroy livelihoods and small businesses.
In central and southern Minnesota garlic should be planted the last two weeks of October, and mulched for winter. Remove or push back mulch in spring to help shoots to grow properly. Harvest in July. Cure bulbs for winter storage.
Lots more info available online and in the GW Allium Forum - I simply gave you the basics here.
Here is a link that might be useful: Minnesota Garlic Festival
Oh, and choose hardneck varieties over softneck varieties. Both will grow here but hardnecks are generally planted in cold northern climates and softnecks are grown in more southerly climates. IMO hardnecks are where you get into much better flavor which makes them more desirable anyway. I used to grow some wonderfully strong flavored hardnecks and some decent softnecks as well. Now that I am starting over I am just going to grow hardnecks.
My softnecks did better with the fusarium outbreak than the hardnecks. I have a nice stock for replanting but hardly any to sell. I hope to grow enough to be a vendor at the festival in 2013 or 2014.
The bulbs that should be tossed are more purple than they should be, smaller and thicker necked and smell bad. They also shrivel badly. My basement stunk like crazy before I realized most had to be thrown out.
It will be hard for many to find garlic to plant in MN this fall. Start now! Look for healthy stock at any and all farmers markets or you will be S.O.L. And obviously plant in new ground. Some people soak cloves immediately before planting in compost or worm tea. I think I will do that.
I planted garlic last year for the first time and had a great harvest of mostly hardneck. About 70 bulbs and I was lucky I didn't get hit with anything. I'll be saving some and have also been buying garlic at markets around town as I'd like to do more this fall. Growing garlic is a great excuse to get your garden ready for spring in the fall when the soil is so much easier to work. That way come spring there is very little to do.
Anyone have an opinion about the garlic so far this year? I may be paranoid but I am noticing a few with yellow tips on the leaves. Some of mine are huge already. I don't have any scapes yet. It is hard to remember when things start to happen. It seems like I planted more than came up but I don't really know for sure.