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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Focus, Garlic

How Does It Grow
Garlic is delicious and staple.  It is a storable vegetable for year round enjoyment.  Also, garlic adds flavor to almost any dish.  Garlic dissuades several types of pests, so it is a great addition to any garden too.
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 a spring garlic 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 located in California.
Soil PH should range between 6-7, ideally 6.5.  Garlic demands a soil with high organic matter levels and good drainage.  Overcome wet soil by adding sand or using raised beds.  Garlic rarely needs to be watered.  Only water if the ground is becoming hard.  The soil should contain 10-10-10 NPK nutrient ratio.

Plant garlic in rows 15 to 18 inches apart according to University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.  One Yard Revolution, suggests 6” circular diameter.  Check with seed provider as varieties do vary in distance needed.  Plant garlic clove 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 garlic bulb.
Caring for Garlic
Garlic will be overrun with weeds easily.  Weed often or use mulch, landscape fabric, or black plastic as a weed suppressor.   Plastic and fabric should have 2” holes were garlic is planted.  If you have heavy soil remove mulch away from garlic 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 garlic and onion.
Larger Bulbs
To focus the garlic on growing a larger bulb, cut off first greens.   Cut off any flower shoots that may appear.  Black-plastic-soil covering increased bulb size 23-50%, in Illinois University’s, two-year study on garlic.  Black Plastic also increased garlic winter-survival 4-10%.
Harvest & Cure
Garlic is 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 garlic bulb does not come up with little effort; loosen the soil more.  Place garlic on the soil.  Place the next garlic on top of the greens from the previous garlic.   This will protect the garlic from being sunburned.   Let garlic sit before storing to cure.  Curing takes 4-6 weeks.  Place garlic in a well-ventilated (use a fan if necessary) environment.  The environment should not be in direct sunlight but should be warm.  After curing has been completed.  Knock off additional dirt and braid garlic.   Alternatively, you can cut off the foliage and roots connect to the garlic bulb.  Store loose garlic in mesh bags.  Garlic sprouts in 40-50 F.  Storing garlic at room temperature will prevent garlic from sprouting.
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 garlic 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 garlic.
Y Bratsch, A. “Fall is the Time to Plant Garlic.” University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.
Contains information on garlic: timing planting, soil requirements, and care.