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Garlic help!

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default Garlic help!

Post by freebird on 11th September 2012, 11:42 pm

I really thought I had cracked garlic.

It's taken a couple of years to discover that planting garlic in the spring just doesn't work (so why does it say on some packs to plant it in the spring?). I found the plants made funny little round, single bulbs. Had some limited success with leaving them in the ground for another year, with one magnificent garlic bulb and a few rather small, but ok ones.

Then I found out about garlic needing to get cold. So last year I planted some in the autumn, and watched through this year with delight, as the leaves grew better than I had ever seen before. Once they started to yellow, I dug up the plants. Each planting looked as if it had made proper cloves, but the bulbs were disappointingly small. Ah well, I thought, they'll do. Put them in the shed to dry off, but I've now found that there is nothing inside the 'shape'. They haven't rotted as far as I can see, but there is no substance to any of the cloves.

Can any of you experienced garlic growers suggest where I might have gone wrong?
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default Re: Garlic help!

Post by Chilli-head on 12th September 2012, 9:27 am

I don't know if I count as "experienced", and I'm not sure what has gone wrong with your garlic, but I can tell you what I do.

I plant in early November, and have come to the conclusion that the Isle of Wight garlic farm varieties are the best way to go. They seem to be well selected for our climate, and produce better sized cloves than other types. I grew Iberian wight, Albigensian wight and Purple Moldovan this year. I like to plant a double row, with the coves staggered and 9" spacing each way. Normally sprinkle a little wood ash around them a few times during the year; whether this helps or is just habit, I can't be sure. I then follow Geoff Hamilton's advice to harvest when about 6 leaves have died back and shriveled. Usually I do an exploratory excavation or two around that stage (usually late June/July) to check that I have something respectable to dig up; leaving it too late seems to result in the outer wrapper splitting and rotting away, so that the cloves within are dirtier and fall apart - not a disaster, but not so neat. I then dry them is the sun (if available Rolling Eyes ), before trimming the roots, then either cutting the top back to a few inches, or plaiting (softnecks only, of course) if I'm feeling in the mood.

Soil seems to make a big difference for clove size; my heavy clay allotment usually grows good garlic, whereas the sandy garden plot produces small cloves. Whether it is water retention or nutrients that are the main factor I don't really know. This year has, of course, been a difficult one, and my garlic, though still quite useable, is not so large as normal.
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default Re: Garlic help!

Post by freebird on 12th September 2012, 12:29 pm

Thank you for that, CH. I will look out for some of those varieties and try again.
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