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Bulb Growing Info
Details of Growing Garlic: feed 'em, weed 'em, give 'em space
- Prepare a well-groomed seedbed of
rich compost or composted manure. Break the bulb into individual
cloves; choose the biggest unblemished ones for planting.
- Plant cloves so that the tops of the cloves are 1-2" below ground level, the bottoms 4-6" deep, and 4-8" apart, mid to late October, early to mid November, ideally four weeks before the ground freezes. (Timing for central Maine, Zone 4.) More food and more space generally gives larger bulbs.
- Mulch with 4-6" of hay, leaves or straw.
- In spring, move the mulch away from the emerging tips to free up any spears struggling to get through, then replace it close in, to help keep moisture levels even, and to help keep weeds down. Garlic does not compete well with weeds.
- Top dress or foliar feed, and provide adequate and
even moisture while growing, to encourage larger bulbs to
- Cut off the "flower" stalks, known as scapes, from hardnecks before they uncurl and stand up straight; eat them, compost them, or dry them for winter arrangements. If you leave them on, the bulbs will be smaller. Harvest the top-set bulbils to eat or plant them in fall for fresh greens the next spring or new full-size bulbs in two years.
- Maintain even moisture levels during the season. Except for Porcelain types, allow the soil to dry beginning about a week before harvest. Keep Porcelains moist until harvest.
- Poke around a few garlic bulbs in late July or early
August to check growth. Use a fork to loosen the soil, and
lift the bulbs when bottom leaves are yellow or five or six
upper green leaves remain, before cloves begin to separate.
- Tie hardnecks in bundles of 6-12 plants, and hang to cure in a 60-80° well-ventilated place, protected from both sun and rain, until dry. You may need fans or a dehumidifier in a very wet season. Do not field-cure in New England, as it is often too cool and/or too wet.
- Trim roots, trim tops to within 1" of the bulb, clean, store in a cool dry place, then enjoy.
Turbo-Charged Blue-Ribbon Garlic Growing Tips
- Big bulbs need space for roots,
high levels of nitrogen, sufficient trace minerals, and consistent
- The roots of garlic spread 3-4" on either side
of the bulb. Plant the cloves 10" apart to optimize root
growth and nutrient uptake. Space rows 1' apart. Push individual
cloves down about 1-1/2", so the tip of the clove is
just at the soil surface.
- Cover the bed with 2-3" of well-rotted compost.
Then add nitrogen sources such as a heavy application of composted
manure, or a mix of either alfalfa meal (3#/100 sq ft) or
fish meal (3#/100 sq ft) with soybean meal (5#/100 sq ft).
Fish and alfalfa meals feed the fall root growth; the soybean
meal breaks down slowly and is available the following spring.
- Azomite (2#/100 sq ft) supplies trace minerals critical
to increasing the overall size of the bulbs. Kelp meal (1#/100
sq ft) is an option which supplies even more minerals.
- Mulch provides protection from frost heaving, and
weed protection and moisture regulation in summer. Apply mulch
after fall planting, and leave mulch on throughout the spring
- Water crop during prolonged dry spells.
- In mid-June, just as the garlic begins to form heads,
sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of blood meal around each stalk, to
give a charge of nitrogen just when it is needed.