Garlic Crop Focus, Get a Large Healthy Harvest of Garlic

Garlic is delicious and staple. It is a store-able vegetable for year round enjoyment.

How Does It Grow; GarlicAlso, it adds flavor to almost any dish.  Garlic dissuades several types of pests, so it is a great addition to any garden too.  Therefore it is a great vegetable to grow in your garden.  With so much misinformation and scattered tips, I decided to collect data from reputable sources and compile it in this article.

What Garlic to Grow

There are two basic types of garlic: softneck and hardneck.  Hardneck is cold hardy with a higher yield.  Softneck is spring grown in environments with warmer-longer growing seasons.  One Yard Revolution, suggests Music, for zone 4-6.  Territorial Seeds, suggests Great White Northern, for zone 5-6.  Carpathian and Idaho Silverskin, had high scores in University of Illinois Horticulture Extension’s study.  California is prime garlic growing country for softneck varieties.  Using organic varieties from a local grocer would be cheaper and ideal, for those of you located in California or a similar grow zone.
Soil PH should range between 6-7, ideally 6.5. This tuber demands a soil with high organic matter levels and good drainage.  You can overcome wet soil by adding sand or using raised beds.  You rarely need to water.  Only want to water if the ground is becoming hard.  The soil should contain 10-10-10 NPK nutrient ratio.

Planting

Plant in rows 15 to 18 inches apart according to University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.  One Yard Revolution, suggests 6” circular diameter.  You can check with seed provider as varieties do vary in distance needed.  Plant cloves vertically with the tip closest to the surface.  Roots will grow from the larger part of the clove that was attached to the base of the bulb.

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Garlic will be overrun with weeds easily.  To save increase your yield weed often.  To save time and your hands mulch, landscape fabric, or black plastic as a weed suppressor.   You need to create 2” holes in lanscape fabric or black plastic.   This is were starts are transplanted or directly sown.  If you have heavy soil remove mulch away from the greens so the bulb does not rot.  Pests are rare but thrips, onion maggots; and bulb rots can effect a harvest.  Rotate crops every year.  Avoid growing where onions were bedded; as the same pests threaten both plants.

Larger Bulbs

To focus the garlic on growing a larger bulb, cut off first greens.   You will also want to cut off any flower shoots that may appear.  Black-plastic-soil covering increased bulb size 23-50%, in Illinois University’s, two-year study.  Black plastic also increased winter survival 4-10% of plants.

Harvest

You are ready to harvest when all but 4-6 leaves have died.  Harvest is generally in July-August.  Soil may need to be loosened by a garden fork.  Place hand as close to the base of the plant and pull.  If the bulb does not come up with little effort; loosen the soil more.  Place harvest on the soil.  Place the next garlic on top of the greens from the previously harvested plant.   This will protect the bulbs from being sunburned.

Curing and Storing

Curing takes 4-6 weeks.  You want to place bulbs in a well-ventilated (use a fan if necessary) environment.  The environment should not be in direct sunlight but should be warm.  After curing knock off additional dirt and braid garlic. Alternatively, you can cut off the foliage and roots connect to the bulb.  Store loose bulbs in mesh bags.  Garlic sprouts in 40-50 F. Store at room temperature will prevent sprouting.

Sources:
Walter, Alan. 2008. “Production Method and Cultivar Effects on Garlic Over-Wintering Survival, Bulb Quality, and Yield.” Research Gateway. University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.  
Two-year study on Allium sativum in the midwest.
MANIC MEDIA. “How Does It Grow? Garlic.” Episode.
Peeling back the layers of garlic — history’s most powerful superfood — to see how it’s grown and harvested in Gilroy, America’s garlic capital.
Tutorial on growing Allium sativum.
Y Bratsch, A. “Fall is the Time to Plant Garlic.” University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.

Contains information on: timing planting, soil requirements, and care.

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