Garlic!

muffin1358(6/MA)September 27, 2013

Does anyone grow garlic? I'd like to try it but I've read that you shouldn't use garlic from the grocery store. So where do you get the garlic to plant?

I'm not looking to do a lot, actually i would probably only plant 5 or 6 cloves.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

Garlic is VERY easy to grow... we get our heads at the CT Garlic Festival (coming up in October in Bethlehem), but I bet there are organic garlic farmers around you somewhere (not sure where you are in Mass). One of our favorite vendors at the CT Festival is Three Sisters, which is a Massachusetts farm. I think you "can" try grocery store garlic, but you'll do better buying garlic intended for planting. In know our Agway carries it in the fall... maybe check a farming supply or nursery? (Or come to Bethlehem in October - it's a lot of fun! ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: CT Garlic Festival

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 8:44AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I just ordered my garlic yesterday! I've been growing it for about three years, and it is fairly easy. To me, the hardest part is knowing when to harvest it (which is something I *always* have trouble with in regard to underground crops!)

I get mine from Territorial Seed, mostly because they carry a very early variety, one that can be harvested in late May or early June. I have very limited sun, and need to get the garlic out asap so I can put in my tomatoes.

I don't know if you could just get five or six cloves though... I would suggest going to a local farmer/farmers market/farm stand to see about buying one bulb, but I don't know what needs to be done to make it ready for planting, if anything.

Good luck!
Dee

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 9:40AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I've grown all our garlic for enough years that I can't remember how long it's been. Typically garlic for planting is left in the ground a bit longer and the bulb isn't as tight - the head has opened up a bit in the center. However, I've planted garlic that hasn't been treated that way and it has been just fine. So you can order garlic from a seed catalogue (I originally got mine from Johnny's Select seeds, though now I just replant some of my own cloves) or a farmer's market. Usually grocery store garlic is from a much warmer zone and won't grow here, and it may have been treated with an anti-sprouting chemical.

You will want to plant the largest cloves to get the biggest heads of garlic. I usually plant in mid to late October in order to get good root growth without top growth. I use a planter that DH made and add several inches of mulch over the planted cloves. Regular water and good soil are key to getting good sized heads next summer.

Onion and garlic planter

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:36PM
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muffin1358(6/MA)

Thank you for the replies!

A Garlic Festival?! That looks fun....but too far.

I will need to visit some local farms in my garlic quest.

Does anybody recommend a particular variety?

Oh, and I plan on planting in a container...only a handful of cloves. How big should the container be?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 8:31PM
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pixie_lou

I tried growing it the past couple years. I bought my garlic at the Farmers Market at Russells Garden Center. Some guy in Sudbury grows garlic and sells it at Russells. I think it was some type of German Hardneck.

I was never thrilled with my garlic harvest. I'd get about 4 cloves per head. But I did love harvesting all the scapes earlier in the summer. So I've given up trying to grow my own. I figured my location wasn't sunny enough. But maybe it's that I never watered them? Who knows.

Babs has a good point - you want to plant your biggest cloves to get your biggest heads of garlic. You plant the cloves 6" apart. So that would dictate the size of your container. I had a 2' x 4' raised bed so I planted 32 cloves.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:14PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I would also plan to mulch the surface of the container well and put something around the outside to keep it from freeze/thaw cycles such as a double layer of bubble wrap, or else get one of those extruded foam containers if you don't already have the container. It doesn't matter so much if the container is frozen or thawed, but the frequent cycling of freeze and thaw would disrupt the garlic's root development as the soil moved, and they might even be heaved out.

This post was edited by nhbabs on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 21:41

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 8:03AM
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muffin1358(6/MA)

Please forgive my ignorance...what is an "extruded foam container?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 9:09AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

They are made of some kind of rigid foam that has been made in a mold, and are usually colored and formed to look like some type of traditional container material like terracotta, wood, stone, or iron. The thicker foam material is light weight but rigid, and since it is foam and has air trapped in the material, it provides some insulation.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 10:45AM
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muffin1358(6/MA)

Hmm...I'll have to keep an eye out for these!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:31AM
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bostongardens(z6 MA)

We were delighted to receive an event posting for a Garlic and Arts Festival taking place on Oct. 5-6 in Orange, Massachusetts. Included are demos on "Learn to grow garlic."

Take a look if you have an opportunity, under Oct.5-6.

There are also many other events which may be of interest.

~ Hilda

Here is a link that might be useful: BostonGardens.com

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Well,

I /did/ grow my garlic from grocery store garlic this year, and I'm delighted to have about 60 sprouts popping up throughout my garden bed right now. Contrary to what people say, it DOES grow!

I guess I won't be able to judge to quality until spring time!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 10:42PM
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diggingthedirt

I haven't grown garlic, but I have to wonder if harvesting the scapes has a negative impact on the eventual size of the bulbs. The scapes, or leaves, are how the plant feeds itself, so I'd guess that you'd need to be pretty conservative about that if you were after large bulbs.

Maybe I'll give this a try this year. I have a lot of wood ash from our occasional firepit use, and that's supposed to be good for root development. My small raised bed is full of spent basil and volunteer cherry tomato plants, so I could plunk in some good-sized cloves from the grocery store. Not much to lose!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 11:00AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

DTD, interesting point about the scapes. My thinking was just the opposite - I harvested all my scapes because I thought this would put energy into the bulb, and not into making seeds. I left the leaves, just cut the scapes. Hmmm. I wonder if anyone more knowledgeable/experienced can comment on this issue?

Dee

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 12:35PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

The scapes are the flower stems, not the leaves, so removing them increases the energy that goes into the bulb since the plant isn't forming bulblets up where the flower was. I usually don't get the timing right on cutting the scapes (or perhaps my hardneck garlic doesn't have as tender scapes) but when I have tried stir-frying them, they have been fairly chewy and fibrous. Every year I tell myself I will cut them the minute they appear, and every summer, I cut them too late to be particularly palatable.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 12:47PM
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defrost49

I've had wonderful luck with garlic using hard neck garlic that I have bought locally (expect to pay about $2.50 per bulb which you separate into cloves to plant). A local market farmer near Concord planted his garlic last weekend. Should have done mine because today is overcast, breezy and I didn't feel like working outside so did inside chores instead.

My bulbs grow large which I think is because of soil fertility. The bulbs nearest the grass/edge of the bed, aren't quite as large. The tip I use about harvesting the scapes is to cut them before they make a second circle. NHbabs, you might be waiting too long. It's really best to cut them when they before they complete the first circle. IF you miss one, the next signal is when the scape straightens out. That means it's time to dig the garlic. I'm pretty sure I dug mine mid-July. When the leaves are starting to brown, it's time to harvest. If you wait too long, the bulbs begin to split and they won't keep well.

I like to chop in small pieces for omelets and love garlic scape hummus. I use scapes like garlic. I've seen a recipe for pickled scapes which are supposed to be like dilly beans but haven't tried the recipe.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Bumping this subject back up the forum~

Here's a shot of my garden from when I was home this weekend. You can see the garlic I've planted sprouting out of the beds (looks like chives). I think I planted them all too early (Oct 5th) for my zone (6B southern Mass) but this is my first year growing garlic so any growth is awesome, to me.

I want to pull one, out of curiosity, to see how developed the root systems have grown before the frost beings setting on this month. Then, that's one less garlic bulb to delight me in the spring time...

Anybody else growing garlic and have shots of the growth? What are your tips for growing the biggest, tastiest bulbs?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 3:54PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Your garlic will do just fine! But mulch them deeply to keep those shoots from freezing while they go into sleep mode for the winter. By next May or so, you can gently pull back the mulch.
As for how to grow big garlic bulbs, you must choose large bulbs/cloves to plant. Small cloves will produce small bulbs. There are many different varieties of garlic, many available for sale online, so do some research and buy large (NOT elephant) bulbs.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 5:00PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I haven't planted mine yet. I forgot. I bought some and left it in the refrigerator. I just saw Dee mention on another post that she knew she should have taken them out of the refrigerator and put them on the counter, and that is just what I did today. (g)

I do have raised beds with thick layers of leaves on them, so I shouldn't have any trouble planting them when it warms up toward the end of the week. I didn't order garlic, I bought organic bulbs at the grocery store and maybe it will work, maybe it won't.

Persimmons, looks like you are going to have a lot of garlic if they all come up. This crazy weather, when it stays so warm so late, it's hard to figure when you should do it some years.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 6:51PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I just planted my garlic this weekend, about 2 weeks later than usual. I try to plant it late enough that the greens don't sprout too far above the mulch since I know that those greens will all freeze in a short time, but early enough so that the roots can grow and the sprouts get started. That way they are ready to take off in spring.

I know my MIL likes seeing those sprouts in the fall, but we've never done a comparison of the results, and my results are quite variable dependent on the weather from year to year, so I honestly don't know if it makes any difference.

Anyway, I can take a photo of the bed later in the week if you'd like, Persimmons, but it won't look much different than a mulched bed.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 7:48PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

LOL, PM2, I was just thinking about my garlic again! I was outside gathering some acorns for a friend's project, and once again thought about planting my garlic. Too damn cold today! Brrrr! I think it is supposed to warm up by Friday, so I will plant it then. Like nhbabs says, its really a balancing act to decide when to plant!

I'm not too worried. An organic farmer down the street from me always plants his garlic in November, near the end of the month. He has more than once told me I plant mine too soon - and I try to tell him that I have an early variety, that is harvested in May and June, and that the place I buy it from says to plant in October. I am rather feeble in my protestations - me telling a farmer who has done this professionally for decades and whose farm is 150 years old that I know better than he does, lol.

So, for the other, late-harvested variety I am trying for the first time, I think I still have plenty of time to plant. And for the one that is "supposed to be" planted in October? Well, it was so warm here, and like Persimmons, the last year or two I've had pretty substantial growth in fall with my (early) garlic, so I am not too worried about waiting this long to plant.

When I get that growth, Persimmons, I mulch very deeply with leaves. I have lost lots of that growth come spring, but I still manage to get a good harvest.

Dee

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 1:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Dee, I walked by my Mums in pots looking all brown and spent on the way in the house today and thought I should plant those, and rushed in the house thinking it was too cold and thought of the garlic and figure maybe Friday it will be warm enough to do that and I walked in the house and saw your post. lol Garlic is still on the counter!

Babs, itâÂÂs been so warm this year, that you may be right on time. :-)

I am pretty sure I saw a post on the Vegetable forum lately where an experienced gardener was saying that regardless of when he planted, even in December and as late as March, he still had great garlic harvests, so that made me think I didnâÂÂt have to worry about it too much.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Mulch deeply-- got it. I've got about a 1-3 leaf thick layer of mulch on there, I've been trying to use a mix of fallen leaves and humus to mulch everything over.

Would it be too acidic if I applied pine needles, too? Should I just stick to the Dutch Elm leaves that are scattered around my yard?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 2:21PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Got half my garlic planted today! Planted the early stuff - Chinese Pink. Will do the late garlic later this weekend. Such a beautiful day today!

Persimmons, I don't know about the pine needles - no experience with them. I always use (mostly) oak leaves as mulch because that's what I have available. I tend to think the pine needles wouldn't hurt the garlic but maybe someone with more garlic-growing experience can answer for you.

Dee

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 4:51PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I can't answer your question either, Persimmons, sorry. If you don't get an answer here, try the Soil forum.

Dee, good for you, you beat me to it! Mine are going in tomorrow. :-)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 8:10PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Pine needles' pH is in the same range as other leaves, and shouldn't have any major effect on the pH of your soil from reading research and from my observations in my garden. We have fairly acid soil in most parts of New England, so if you are concerned about your soil pH in general, take a soil sample to whomever does soil testing in MA, such as a large land grant university or cooperative extension. I usually add wood ash each fall from our woodstove (I am careful when starting the stove not to use printed paper that might have inks with heavy metals, only soy-based inks) to mellow out the soil a bit in the veggie garden. In perennial beds I just stick with plants that are content with our acid soil.

Pine needles mixed in with your leaves might be better since they tend not to mat and so you'll have fluffier, more insulating mulch.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 8:23AM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Thanks for the information about pine needles. I'm going to scoop them from my neighbor's yard (she usually just leaves them in bags to be taken to the dump!)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 9:22PM
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