When are you going to plant your Garlic Bulbs

plant88October 17, 2008

I am a novice with garlic bulbs. I am interested in when everyone is going to plant their garlic. I live in Southern New England.

The garlic bulb is from a hardy strand in Northen NY.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thank you.

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mayalena(6 - MetroWest Boston)

Hi there.
I just received mine from Johnny's today, and will probably plant them next week. Last year, I didn't plant them til mid-November and they still turned out just fine, so there's no rush, as far as I can tell!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 10:02PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I just planted some garlic last weekend. It was the first time I ever planted it.

When I told a local farmer that I planted it, he told me I planted it too early and that he plants his in mid-November. But when I told him the package said to plant in mid-October, and that it was a variety that gets harvested in late May, he said maybe it would be okay.

He just told me to keep an eye on it in case it started growing and if so, to mulch the heck out of it.

So I would think that you are definitely not too late, lol.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:48PM
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sunshineboy(Z5 MA)

I too am a novice at garlic planting, but everything I have researched and the sales rep from the company I got bulbs from recommends planting after your first frost. There was a little frost on my car roof this morning so Id say within the next week or so should be great planting time.
Ive got 2 kinds of bulbs...german extra hardy and russian red.
Lets regroup in the summer with pics and show off how they turn out....sunshineboy

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 7:48AM
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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

I just attended a presentation on growing garlic at a local garlic festival in northwest Connecticut last weekend. I'd been told the first week of November. The farmer who gave the talk said you want to plant "6 weeks before the ground freezes" whatever that is in your area. The idea is that you DON'T want the bulbs to sprout and start growing but you do want the roots to get established. Other tips: plant on a 6" x 6" grid and cover with leaf mulch over the winter (chop the leaves). Good luck! We bought 3 kinds to try ourselves, having done both red onions and shallots last year with great success. They are certainly low-effort, low maintenance crops! (Oh, and if you have hard-neck varieties, cut the scapes in the spring when they begin to curl. Cut 2" from the ground and it will help the plants focus energy on the bulb formation (says the farmer...)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 12:56PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I should really try some garlic this year too. I tried some last year and didn't have any success and I can't remember when I planted them. I wondered how I could have failed with something as easy as garlic. I tried them in a whiskey barrel with soil that might have been too heavy, other than that I don't know what the problem could have been.

I used organic garlic from Whole Foods. Where are all of you purchasing yours?


    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 10:16AM
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mayalena(6 - MetroWest Boston)

Hello, all.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I purchased mine from Johnny's. I spent $29 including shipping on 6 heads of German extra hardy organic garlic -- approx 5 cloves each -- so that's about 30 heads of garlic I'll grow. Almost $1 each...which is no bargain, is it? But they say it is specially grown to be seed garlic.

I wonder if it is really any different from supermarket garlic such as that available at Whole Foods? Did I waste my money spending so much on seed? How can one save garlic from one's own garden to use as seed? How do you store it optimally from harvest in June-July to planting in October?

Johnny's planting guide says to plant "from the first fall frost date until as late as November". They also suggest using lots of compost, as garlic is a heavy feeder, and planting on 6" centers.

Are onions and shallots this easy?


    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 12:41PM
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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

Mayalena -- yes, onions and shallots are just as easy! Just plunk 'em in the ground. I actually bought my red onions as seedlings (the way I always used to buy leeks), which you tease apart into individual little plants. One pack from the veggie market yielded about 50 perfect, round red onions. The only thing I do find is that I have trouble keeping them as long as store bought, so perhaps I'm not "curing" them sufficiently (to let them dry entirely). The farmer I heard suggested with garlic, to leave all the dirt on the roots while the garlic dries, then use a toothbrush to get it off once it's dried.

We bought our garlic at a local garlic festival. I think in general the garlic you buy at the store (don't know about Whole Foods) COULD be planted but might well be what's called "softneck" (which keeps longer but everyone seems to feel has less flavor). I was floored at how many varieties the farms were selling at the garlic festival -- mostly farms in Connecticut and New York State. I imagine there are similar things in Massachusetts? Or else local farmers' markets might sell the hardneck varieties for planting...?

As for how to get more, all you do is save some of the biggest cloves from the garlic you grow, then plant it the next fall. You should never have to buy garlic again once you get started... so don't worry too much about the $29 :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Over already, but here's a Massachusetts festival...

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 5:24PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Softneck isn't as hardy, so supermarket garlic may not winter over.

We usually buy garlic at the Saugerties Garlic Festival. This year we had a family obligation that weekend, so couldn't get our supply. We get a good selection, which then can't really be replanted the next year since who knows what garlic is what. If you taste garlic at a festival, you'll find out that there are very different types out there.

Most years our garlic sprouts in the fall. It doesn't really seem to care. The beds are mulched with chopped leaves, and we cut the scapes off the next summer and use them like scallions in cooking.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 6:10PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

MG, I'm glad to hear you say that your garlic sprouts in the fall but doesn't seem to mind. After seeing several garlic-planting threads around the forums, I was really beginning to worry that I had planted mine too early!

PM2, I bought my garlic from Territorial seed. It really was an impulse buy. I've always wanted to plant garlic, but never really had the space - since it's not harvested until July, I need that space that it would be in to plant other things. And then I got an e-mail newsletter from Territorial, and they advertised this Chinese Pink garlic, which is harvested late May/into June. "Bingo!" thought I!

It was $10.95 for 8oz, which was 2 and 1/2 large heads - I think I planted about two dozen cloves off of them. The shipping was almost as much as the darn garlic - $6.95 - so I paid $17.90 for the whole shebang.

I'm hoping for much better results than I had with onions. My onions are rather pathetic. I started them from seed, they had great germination, seemed to grow as I had expected, but when I harvested them they were quite tiny. Looked like I was harvesting pearl onions, lol. Oh well. It could have something to do with all the neglect I lavished on them!


    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 7:53PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks Dee...we use a lot of garlic. I may look at WholeFoods for hard neck, they may have some. I will report back. I would like to grow our own to 'save' money. [g]

I haven't had the greatest luck with onions either, but really haven't tried it more than a couple of times. I did the same thing, Dee, didn't pay any attention to them and not sure how rich the soil was either. Next year, I should have a nice place for them and hope to try them again.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:06PM
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This has been very helpful!
A friend gave me some hardneck cloves a fews years back. I planted in mid-November thinking I was way too late. Two wks ago I planted some cloves another friend gave me... hope I'm not too early!
I've been cutting off only the cute curl each spring! ;-D Now I know to cut off closer to the ground...and eat it!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 1:20PM
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Hi all.
I planted my garlic the weekend of columbus day. I used garlic (hard neck) that I bought from a local organic grower, who started his patch in the same mannor(bought his years ago from a farmer here in Maine). If you buy organic garlic that is locally grown - it should work. Non-organic garlic is usually treated with a growth inhibitor so that the garlic dosen't start to sprout in the store. Thus has longer shelve life,and not a source for using as seed.

Anyway good luck to all of us, may we have garlic falling out of our ears next summer!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 7:24PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Well darn. My garlic sprouted. Oh well. I have to really put faith in the experience of Mad Gallica - that and in the four inches of grass clippings and shredded leaves I put down, lol.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:25PM
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I know that I'm near the northern edge of where garlic will reliably winter over, so I get my initial heads from a reliable northern source, like Johnny's or a local farmer. Someplace like an organic supermarket may get theirs from a warmer climate (much garlic comes from CA), so probably won't be hardy for me. Hardiness might also be the problem with pm2's barrel planting - too much exposure to cold without the insulation of surrounding soil.

I find garlic one of my easiest crops. I plant late October (last weekend this year) though I have planted successfully as late as immediately post-Thanksgiving one year when I brought back Wisconsin garlic from a family holiday visit. As CTlady mentioned, you want the roots to grow, but not the top before winter so that the top is ready to grow immediately come spring, but energy hasn't been wasted growing greens that immediately die in the fall. Plant the biggest cloves to get the biggest bulbs. If the tops grow and die in the fall, the bulbs will still grow in the spring, just maybe not quite as big. 6"x6" is also how I grow mine, and I've used compost, chopped leaves, and wood shavings as mulch various years. I usually put down about 6" of mulch over the whole bed (typically about 4'x12' - we use garlic in quantity in everything but desserts) and although advice is to remove most of the mlch come spring, I never do and have had no problems. I usually label and keep track of varieties as I harvest so I can replant next year's crop from this year's largest cloves. This year due to health problems I wasn't able to do that - it was all I could do to get to the garden and pull the bulbs with a knee injury- but I found this fall that I could tell the kinds of garlic apart just from the appearance. So I don't know which of the names of my 5 or 6 varieties go with which rows of plants, but since they look distinctly different based on how the cloves grow in the head and the color of the skin on the cloves I could plant them separately.

One thing that has made my planting easier is that my husband, who is a bit of an inventor and quite handy, made a garlic/onion planter. It's a narrow 4' board (the width of our veggie garden beds) with pointed 3" pegs an inch in diameter spaced every 6 inches. I turn and rake smooth the beds and then I press it along the side of the bed to space my rows, and then across the bed to create holes to drop the cloves into and then water thoroughly to let the soil sift down around the cloves - no digging and filling needed for individual cloves. I indent every other row 3" so that there is an evenly spaced grid.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:06AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I am convinced now that I did indeed plant my garlic too early. They are just growing like the dickens. They are sticking about three inches above the four inches of mulch.

Oh well, live and learn.

P.S. nhbabs, that planter sounds great. Lucky you, to have such a handy DH!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 10:07PM
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