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hardneck garlic left too long in ground

Posted by rexanne z5 Chicago (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 21, 09 at 14:09

Hey Allium Folks
procastination is not a garlic growers friend.
I left my hardneck garlic in the ground far too long and the papers have all mostly rotted away. The cloves them selves look fine but mostly not hanging together in thier garlic bulbs. I have several questions:

1. if there is no obvious rot are they still okay to eat?

2. can or should I replant the cloves?

3. is it too early to plant now?

4. will they spoil before I plant if I wait until the correct date to plant? With no papers I worry they will dry out.


I should of not procrastinated I will do better next year, I promise.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: hardneck garlic left too long in ground

Been there done that! The cloves are perfectly fine to eat, and can be replanted provided they last until proper planting time. August is too early as you will get a lot of top growth which will be exposed to your cold Chicago winters. I would plant some in late September if they look like they are starting to going off, but otherwise try to hold out until mid October.

If you store them uncovered in the cellar they should hold until October depending on the variety. Rocamboles are the shortest lived, but porcelains and purples should have no problem.


RE: hardneck garlic left too long in ground

thanks for answering Tom,
If I haven't a cellar should I wrap them in newspaper and put them the vegetable bin in the frige or in a cupboard?

I was thinking that before I dug them up they were where nature would have taken care of them although crowded and would have probably grown out again next spring.

What happens if you plant too early, do they die?


RE: hardneck garlic left too long in ground

No do not wrap them or put them in the refrigerator as this may accelerate sprouting. Just leave them in your coolest room with good air circulation so they can dry down.

Had you left them in the ground they would have sprouted around October and produced very crowded and small bulbs next summer.

If you plant too early they will produce a lot of top growth which is subject to winter damage. They would try to produce new leaves in the spring but some plants could die. Better to hold out to October if possible, plant the cloves about 3" deep, and cover with about 4" of loose mulch.

Ideally you want to get them in about five weeks before the ground freezes so they can develop a root system but not put up top growth. That is mid-November for me here in coastal NJ, but more like mid-October for the Chicago area. The rule of thumb in upstate New York is to plant on Columbus day, and I would think Chicago has a similar climate.


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