I have a sampler of 8 garlic types coming this fall- about 40 bulbs I think, half soft neck and half hard.
I’m new to my property (moved in October) and so far my gardens are the flower beds around the foundations, a big 10x20 bed that used to bed grass, and various patches around fruittrees I’ve planted into the lawn where I’m still trying to suppress the grass and add guild members. Zone 4 (perhaps closer to 3 due to living in a frost pocket) in mid-west Wisconsin. Soil is Loam-clay.
I’ve never grown garlic before, and of course I can lookup the basics but I was hoping for more insight. So far, from growing my summer garden I know which areas get more sun, which get morning vs afternoon exposure, which retain more water, where slugs and bunnies are an issue, and where voles like to eat things. I also have onions growing now in several spots, and have an idea which of those spots seems like they’re doing best.
With all this information, can anyone suggest where garlic would fit in well? Share how you prep a bed for garlic? Any tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years that googling “how to grow garlic” won’t garner?
I've attempted garlic a couple of times and it has not been successful so far. I've got dark heavy clay soil, so I think there was too much water and not enough drainage. The bulbs just kind of rotted away over the course of a week.
A very good local friend of mine has had great success with her own garlic. When she set up her bed she dug down about 4 feet into the ground. She dumped in an 8in thick layer of pea gravel and a foot deep layer of wood chips. Broke up all the heavy clay soil and mixed it with playground sand. (She went a little nuts and hand-sifted her clay dirt and broke up any large pieces that wouldn't fall through the 1in metal screen). She sprays it down and completely drenches the bed about 4 days before she plants her garlic, and then lightly mists the freshly planted bulbs. She uses drip irrigation for her garlic to combat poor drainage and high heat. She grows mostly softneck varieties and braids them up for storage.
I Solemnly Swear I am NOT the crazy cat lady!
*but not for a lack of trying!
I plant in late August (Sept) and normally harvest in June or whenever the muse moves me. I find garlic easy to grow. I do use raised beds with a several foot layer of decomposing straw under the top layer of soil. I have never encountered problems. I do have a couple of dogs that keep the critters in check.
"Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions." ... Mark Twain
We plant our garlic in the fall usually the 3rd week in September. We plant in full sun where we grew the beans and beets through the summer. The beans leave nitrogen in the ground. Garlic is a high N feeder. We prep the row with a light till, bean stocks and extra beans mix in well. We use the manure/wood chips from the meat chicken/turkeys starter pens about a 1/2" thick over the whole area. We plant them 1" deep and 5" apart with a row width of 14". After they are planted we put about 1" of rabbit poop right down the row and put wood chips between the rows. There is little weeding needed in the spring because of the wood chips and tall garlic. We get asked by many people in the spring how we got our corn in so early. We pick the scamps and eat them when they are bout 6" long. We pick the garlic when the stalks are 2/3rds browned off. We cut the stems off and dry them on a wire mesh rack for about a week, This depends on the humidity, but they will get hard for storage. We hang them in potato sack in the cellar and store a couple hundred in milk crates for our sale barn. As long as they don't get wet or to much sunlight they will last until the next harvest. We plan on harvesting this Thursday! We sell allot of garlic to the locals for 1$ bulb.
To grow new types of garlic we let a couple scamps grow out and make seed. We plant the seeds in the spring in small containers and let them grow until fall. We dig the new cloves out and plant them in the rows for the next year. We are trying to do this with 1 row a year to keep fresh genes in the pool and not have to rely on just clones. We only grow 2 types, 1 giant soft neck and one small hot hard neck. We have been doing this for a long time so they are not really a brand/type any more. They are on the left behind the pea fence in the picture.
The best place to pray for a good crop is at the end of a hoe!
We plant in the fall and harvest in late spring. We mulch lightly with our hay until they come up( so they don't have trouble getting through the mulch), then weed and increase mulch to about 6 inches. Our bed gets mostly morning and midday sun, medium clay soil. Central Kentucky.
We settled on German hardy as the variety we like, for flavor, large cloves, and how well it stores. The results we get are dependent on rain - enough rain for growth, but not once you're trying to harvest. This spring, harvest did well!
Heads were allowed to dry out of the sun, then trimmed of leaves, outer skin, and roots. Stored in mesh bags, we should have enough for the year. What was left of last year's crop, we are experimenting with turning into black garlic.
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