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Growing Garlic Questions

Posted by dancercr none (My Page) on
Mon, May 5, 14 at 19:01

Hello!
I'm sure these questions have been asked - but after searching the forums, I couldn't find them. My apologies if any of you have seen these q's before and already answered them!

This year is my first time trying a vegetable garden. I have an elevated garden built, and I will be growing Spinach, Beets, sage, parsley, Chives...and garlic.

I know garlic is tricky to grow, but I'd really like to try. Here are my questions:

From everything I've read, you're supposed to start growing garlic in the fall. However we get arctic-like winters where I am (Manitoba, Canada) so I thought that may be a bad idea. Will starting my garlic in the spring be a bad decision?

I purchased some of those biodegradable pots that you can start indoors and then plant directly into the ground when ready to garden. Could I start the garlic in those and then plant them into my garden when the time comes? If so, is there anything I would need to know about doing that, other than keeping them in a sunny place and watering them?

I've also heard that growing garlic is finicky because it needs to have a certain kind of soil, drainage, and temperature. Is this accurate? I'm so new to gardening that I really am not at the level where I can be experimenting with multiple soil types and greenhouse gardening!

Essentially, I have the bulbs, the soil, and the biodegradable planting pots. Should I be starting my garlic in them now - or waiting until my garden outdoors is all ready and planting them then? Keeping in mind, that may not be for another 2 or 3 weeks...

Thanks very much!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Lots of questions...

Garlic is really easy to grow, even in poor soils. But it sould be planted in the fall, especially where you have a short growing season. And it's probably hardier than you give credit.

My advice: Go ahead and plant it as soon as you can. Leave it in the ground this fall if you can (it will be small with few cloves anyway) and wait until it starts to yellow and wither before digging next summer. Don't wait too long to dig it as the wrappers will decompose and you may end up with a muddy mess.
-Terry


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Agree that it will tolerate your winters so that Fall planting is the ideal. But since you have them do get them planted outside ASAP. Surely you can find a place to get them in the ground sooner than 2-3 weeks. Don't start them indoors and then try to transplant them.

A side comment - the peat pots say you can plant them intact but many have learned the hard way that you shouldn't. Lots of discussions here about them. Stripping them off before planting is recommended. And you definitely do not want to start a root crop like garlic in them.

Dave


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Hardneck garlic grows fine for gardeners here in Saskatchewan, so it should be no problem for you either.
Just curious - why do you want to wait for 2-3 weeks? Is the soil too wet? All of the stuff you mentioned you would be planting, including the garlic, is frost-tolerant and should be planted fairly early in spring. In Winnipeg, this would be mid-late April most years and just about now this year. If it's very rainy, you have to choose a dry window between rainy periods to work the soil.

I would also suggest you skip the spinach for spring planting. Our long days trigger rapid bolting in spinach that is planted anytime after May 1st. and you won't get much of a harvest, and even what you do get often ends up being bitter. Seed extra beets instead, harvest them in July and August, and then seed spinach in mid-August for a fall crop. Spinach seeded in August will need shade and constant moisture until it germinates.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Mon, May 5, 14 at 20:05


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Good advice above. Also, I agree that garlic isn't hard to grow, maybe hard to grow perfectly, but not hard to get a good crop. I've grown in sandy and also in clay soils and had good harvests from both. And the hardnecks come through cold winters well. Softnecks might not survive, though.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Why do you think softnecks might not survive? Just curious. Thanks naturegirl.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

We grow both hard and soft neck garlic. The hard is larger and more uniform. The soft makes nice braids, and keeps seemingly forever (well, at least until August and as long as the temperature is kept constant, like hanging in your kitchen or pantry.) I can' t really speak to the hardiness difference as we live in a pretty temperate zone.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

As you already know, if you want garlic bulbs, you should planted them in the fall. IF NOT, VERY EARLY SPRING that the ground could be worked.

Having said that, you can plant them in the middll of spring too but what you will get is going to be GREENS, no bulbs. Nothing wrong withe that. As you use green onions, you can use green garlics the same way. I like that myself.

But planting garlic indoor, in pot ..is just unnecessary UNLESS you want to grow them in pot.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

  • Posted by noki Ohio (My Page) on
    Mon, May 5, 14 at 23:53

You can buy pre sprouted Garlic at some nurseries which you can plant now. Much more expensive obviously, but an option.

I planted some cloves last fall, they sprouted in October, then seemed to rot to nothing over the very cold winter. Nothing left this Spring.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

To answer some of your questions, the reason I was going to wait 2-3 weeks is because our winter *just* finished (it snowed two days ago; but didn't last long on the ground). Nobody has started their gardens yet because it's just too cold and the ground is too hard, and most people I've talked to said they won't be able to start theirs for a couple of weeks until the ground is softer.

One of the reasons I was considering growing the garlic in a pot was because the gardener I spoke to at the nursery mentioned that I would be able to plant them in a pot immediately, whereas I would have to wait a couple of weeks to plant them in the ground - and as most of you are saying, the sooner I can plant them, the better. The *other* reason is because I rent my place, and I may not be here next year to harvest the garlic if I plant it in the ground.
@Slimy_Okra: You suggested I should wait on my spinach, however most of the gardeners I spoke to (one at the nursery, especially) said that they think it will grow fine, especially since it will be in partial shade. Do you disagree?

What do you guys think??


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Partial shade will definitely help prolong the harvest season, although it will still bolt eventually. I guess it really depends on how much you love spinach, because the quality and quantity of spring and summer spinach are so inferior to that of other greens you could grow in its place, such as chard.

In general, I've had poor spinach crops whenever the spring was late, forcing me to seed it late.

What part of Manitoba do you live in?


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

The 2-3 week advice from the locals sounds like it means for most garden crops but it shouldn't apply to garlic since it should already be in the ground months ago.

So if you can't dig up even a small corner of the garden yet for the garlic then you can grow garlic in a container just not one of those small peat biodegradable pots. Buy a big plastic pot, something 12-14" wide and a bag of potting mix (not soil) and plant 6-7 cloves in a circle in it. With a bigger pot you can plant more cloves.

Can't help with the spinach question other than to say if you plant it you can still eat all the young small leaves that come up but it sounds like it won't last long before it bolts.

Dave


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

I have been growing garlic for a couple years now without problems. I also plant in the fall after I've cleaned out the garden and reset my rows. It's generally sometime in November. After planting I mulch heavily with chopped up leaves. We had a brutal winter with a ton of snow this year and my garlic garlic is doing fine. We're still a few weeks off from our average last frost date and it's close to 12" tall.

I have rows and plant the garlic all around each row. Then I have a row of carrots in behind the garlic and then tomatoes or peppers or whatever in the center of the row. Animals don't like garlic so I think of it as a green fence.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Dirtguy50: Most garlic growing guides I have read indicate that most softnecks are less winter hearty than hardnecks. We are talking about well below freezing temps, not just mild cold and snow. I assumed Manitoba had sub zero F (-20C or below) at times, but I haven't fact checked that. I think softnecks would not do well in those conditions, but have never had garlic experience with those temps myself.

Here is a link that might be useful: One of many garlic growing guides


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Yep, it usually gets down to 40 below zero at least once a winter, and 20s to 30s below zero (F) occur regularly throughout the winter. Exposed, elevated sites often get swept free of snow by the constant winds, thus freezing the soil down to 8-10 feet of depth.
The ground is still frozen between 5 and 7 feet and it's been a month since the surface thawed out!


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Slimy_Okra: I'm in Winnipeg. Maybe I misunderstood your last post, but the surface is still pretty hard around here (ie - it hasn't been a month that the surface has been thawed. It's been about a week!)

Based on all your feedback though, I'm definitely going to try and get it going ASAP. We most likely have at least one more frost though, so I don't want to put the spinach or herbs out, but I can start my garden immediately and plant the garlic without worrying about the frost, right?


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Noki - were your bulbs refrigerated at any time? Increasing temp signals the bulb that spring is coming, and it's time to start growing.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

>> Yep, it usually gets down to 40 below zero at least once a winter, and 20s to 30s
>> below zero (F) occur regularly throughout the winter. Exposed, elevated sites
>> often get swept free of snow by the constant winds, thus freezing the soil
>> down to 8-10 feet of depth.

And people chose to live there of their own free will?

I am such a wimp...


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

If the soil is dry enough to work, you can plant everything on your list now. Frost is not a concern for spinach, chard, beets, any brassica, any allium (onions, garlic, chives), or most veggies in the carrot family (including dill, parsley and cilantro).

I guess you had an even worse winter & spring than we did this year! Let's hope summer & fall make up for it.


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RE: Growing Garlic Questions

Thanks so much everyone!


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