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Planting Garlic
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Thread: Garlic

  1. #1
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    Garlic

    Fall will soon be upon us. I live in Central Iowa, zone 5a(?) and would love to plant some garlic this fall for next summer's harvest.

    Suggestions on which varieties to consider, and just how do I plant it, and over winter it for a successful harvest?

    TIA
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  2. #2
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    packy
    I regularly plant ~ 150 cloves of Italian hard neck garlic every fall. I plant that much because I have my grandfathers garlic and there is no one else in the family that is currently growing it. I give most of it away to family. we just came back from Ohio and I brought 4 braids up there for them. I am 99% sure we are zone 5b here.

    garlic is ALWAYS planted in the fall - for us here the last week of October after the full moon but closer to the last quarter - depending on the signs. garlic likes RICH friable soil and is a heavy feeder - it doesn't like to compete with weeds - more on that later.

    plant your biggest cloves in a row - point up, 3'' deep and 6" apart. rows are about a foot apart. I do my garlic in a raised bed 12' X 4'. mulch heavily (I use 6" of chopped/mulched leaves or grass clippings). you may find that in warmer winters the garlic will sprout well before spring - not to worry. I've seen plants up 10" and get buried under 6" of snow - it's all good. beginning early spring side dress every 10-14 days with 10-10-10 until the plants start to put off scapes - long stems that will flower and curl. either pull off or break off the scapes when ever they appear - they will take energy from the growing bulbs and diminish the size of your garlic. garlic is ready to harvest when the bottom 1/2 to 2/3 of the plant turn brown and begin to lay over. here that's generally the last week of june or the first week of july.

    when you harvest garlic - and it's better to get it a bit early if you know that you are going into a wet period - DIG it rather than PULL it - stand off about 6" from your row and spade it up. gently knock off the dirt and lay it in the sun for the day if it's going to be dry enough to do that. then bring it in and lay it out ona table or bench allowing it to dry for a week or so. braid the tops into a rope of 12 heads and hang them to dry in a cool (relatively) dark place. it's ready to use in about 6-8 weeks.

    SAVE YOUR BIGGEST CLOVES/HEADS for seed - I typically separate out the largest heads, braid it and clearly label it "SEED", then hang it. don't break the head into individual cloves until the day you are ready to put it in the ground. generally I will sort through my seed garlic and break it apart selecting the biggest cloves, then cut my rows in and plant it that same day.

    to store braids of garlic successfully it should be hung as described above. it will begin to sprout in the spring but it can still be used.

    garlic DOES NOT LIKE weeds - they will hold moisture and rot your tops and you won't be able to braid it. weeds/moisture will also cause your stems to grow "mini bulbs" of garlic ABOVE the ground about 2" over the bulbs (which will be very small), because like the scapes they will steal energy from the main bulb.

    BTW - when you pull the scapes - finely chop the soft ends - where they are pulled from the plant - saute them and scramble some eggs and peppers with them - that's a KILLER breakfast for you and OC
    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” REV 3:16

    Raging Deplorable - we do NOT forget; we do NOT forgive; we are LEGION

  3. #3
    If you let some go to seed, can you plant that also?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluelady View Post
    If you let some go to seed, can you plant that also?
    garlic does not grow from seed - it grows from cloves taken from last years bulbs - if you leave an entire bulb in the ground you will get a bunch of small garlic all close together. elephant garlic - which is not a true garlic but in the leek family - will have small clove like bulbs about the size of a fingernail attached to its roots below the bulb. those WILL grow elephant garlic but it takes 2-3 years
    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” REV 3:16

    Raging Deplorable - we do NOT forget; we do NOT forgive; we are LEGION

  5. #5
    Raggedy, I have been led to believe that you CAN plant the tiny bulblets of garlic that form at the top, BUT it will take several years to get anything big enough to use. I personally would only do it as a last resort or for fun.

    I too plant the biggest cloves from the biggest heads and i definitely believe it makes a difference. I am in 6b and I plant anywhere from mid September to freeze up. Of course earlier is better. I generally plant on a 9x9 grid and then mulch with wheat straw. That will help with the weeds and protect them from the freeze/thaw cycle we get in winter so they don't heave out.

    When harvesting I dig, (I use a trowel) when about 5 of the bottom leaves have dried down. In my area I can't leave them in the sun for a day or they will sun scald so I put them on a rack under shade to dry down. Sometimes I braid and sometimes I don't. Depends on my time.

    I plant Chet's Red Italian, an aritichoke; Silver Rose, a silverskin and a great keeper and also Chesnok, a purple striped just because I like it. If you are as far south as I am you will get more garlic if you raise artichokes and silverskins. I can raise hardnecks but I don't get as much garlic. In the far south I would suggest raising creole garlics.

    I soak my garlic cloves in a soda/water solution and gently peel and then soak in rubbing alcohol for no more than 20 minutes. This is to cut down on disease.

  6. #6
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    I was going to post a nice response but Raggedyman covered the whole thing. Very good response!
    I'd rather be paranoid, prepped and wrong than be irrationally happy, frivolous and screwed.

  7. #7
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    LC
    many thanks for the hints and tips!
    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” REV 3:16

    Raging Deplorable - we do NOT forget; we do NOT forgive; we are LEGION

  8. #8
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    I'm using raised beds, so at this point my biggest issue will be preventing weeds this winter into next spring. suggestions?
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  9. #9
    Packy, just mulch, straw or dry grass clippings. Not something solid like newspaper. Garlic will come up through a loose mulch.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by packyderms_wife View Post
    I'm using raised beds, so at this point my biggest issue will be preventing weeds this winter into next spring. suggestions?
    packy
    a HEAVY mulch of loose materials - my preference is 6" minimum of grass clippings or mulched leaves - I have used wheat straw as LC says but it can also have some seed heads in it from time to time. I would think news paper is going to mat too much to be useful. if you have mulched heavily enough you won't have weeds until late spring - and then they will be light and small enough that they can be easily pulled.
    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” REV 3:16

    Raging Deplorable - we do NOT forget; we do NOT forgive; we are LEGION

  11. #11
    I actually have volunteer garlic "seeding " all over,including in a horse paddock about 50 yards away from my raised beds where I grow To the stuff. I can only assume birds or small animals are spreading the tiny cloves from the occasional scape that gets missed when I cut them. They do take several years to get to good size, but it works.

    Here in zone 5 (a or b, depending on the map you believe, and whether we have a mild or bitter winter) I plant mine in mid September. It's getting close to being ready to harvest now.

    Summerthyme

  12. #12
    I pulled the last of my garlic yesterday and most looks really good. The German white is beautiful, it is a reliable producer and really keeps well.. This was my first year growing Roja and it looks great. Large bulbs and large cloves. Music is also beautiful, large with large cloves another new one for me. Hillside did pretty well, I have planted it before and I think it was better the last time I planted it. Marjean was also a new one for me and I don't think I will plant it again. It did ok, but I think the space would be better used for another variety.

    As I mentioned before, the Rose de Lautrec did not do well, as I expected, because it is not a good variety for my zone 5. The Red Rezan did better than expected, but not as good as the other varieties. I might plant a few again to see if it will keep improving.

    I plant hardnecks. You can braid softnecks, but the hardnecks are tied in bunches.

    I have a particular spot in my garden that is reserved for garlic. I till in composted manure every fall and after I plant I mulch heavily with shredded leaves. I like to plant in October, but sometimes I don't get it in until November in a warm year. I buy my seed garlic because I don't have room enough to plant more than I will use in a year.

    Time will tell how well it will keep since we have had such a wet growing season. I have it all bunched and hanging in my garage and the smell is heavenly. Once it is thoroughly dry I will trim the tops and roots and store it in my cool pantry in baskets.

  13. #13
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    We are still eating last year's garlic....Siberian and Romanian Red. We love both of them. Long keepers and big bulbs. I don't have room to grow seed stock so I buy seed from a place in Oregon every year.

    Unfortunately I was unable to plant last fall so we have no fresh from our garden to store this winter. The locals grow it so I will just buy up a bunch of it and store that. I think it's mostly Russian Red from the looks of it.

    I also plant in raised beds. I bought a huge yard of composted manure this year and piled it into my beds. The garlic bed that rested last year has wax beans in it right now which is ok cause they will set nitrogen into the soil for me but be done in time to plant the garlic. The best garlic I have grown was the year after I switched the bed from beans to garlic. I think with all that good compost still in there they will do well again. I probably will add some good organic fertilizer that I still have left also. I want HUGE bulbs next year.

    We eat garlic nearly every day so I plant a lot of it. I never even think about garlic breath anymore cause I am usually only around dh after dinner and he has it too!


    In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

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  14. #14
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    Kids are pulling the garlic today. Got probably about 300 -350 bulbs. I use all hardneck and 2 different varieties. Cant remember what they are. I started growing about 10-15 years ago with just a few heads I bought from johnnys or fedco. Cant remember which. Another option is to hit up a local farmers market and just buy some bulbs there and plant those. Or ask around. More and more people are growing it now. Might score some for free. You absolutely can grow it from the little bulblets but as others have said it takes a couple of years. I did that with some a few years ago just for the heck of it and it worked great but the cloves are much easier to use. I hang mine in the garage to dry down and then trim off and store in the basement. When it starts to dry out too much I will take it all and either dry it and grind it into garlic powder or freeze the individual cloves. I still have some frozen cloves that are going to get dried next week and ground.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LC View Post
    Packy, just mulch, straw or dry grass clippings. Not something solid like newspaper. Garlic will come up through a loose mulch.
    what if I shred the newspapers?
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  16. #16
    Packy, I would be very leary of newspaper in any form because of it's tendency to pack down any time it gets wet. Think paper machete(sp). I am usually a good speller but that word is absolutely escaping me this morning. lol

  17. #17
    I would like to grow some fancy garlic, but when I look at seed catalogues and see the price of garlic, I get stinker shock. So what I have been doing for a few years is planting grocery store garlic. While I have no idea what variety it is, it grows just fine.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by LC View Post
    Packy, I would be very leary of newspaper in any form because of it's tendency to pack down any time it gets wet. Think paper machete(sp). I am usually a good speller but that word is absolutely escaping me this morning. lol
    LOL! I believe it's paper mache... but you need an accent mark on the "e", which I've never managed with my keyboard!

    LC is correct... newspaper packs down badly. Also, for whatever reason, when I use much shredded paper in my chicken bedding, I notice that it takes *forever* to really break down and rot... leaves or straw break down much more quickly.

    Leaves can also mat and smother plants, if you're not careful. Best mulch is straw, because the stems are hollow and it's a better insulator because of that.

    Summerthyme

  19. #19
    Is the mulch for weather protection over winter or more for weed control or both? I ask because we have 8 trees on a standard city lot. I shred leaves usually in the spring after the are really dry. Dry material works best in the chipper/shredder. If there is no snow shredding can be done in March before most weeds appear.


    If we get some straw just break it into long stems or cut it into shorter pieces so it's more dense like shredded leaves?
    We have a lot of shade here. How shade tolerant is garlic?

    I have never had much success growing garlic but eat a lot of it.

    Thank.
    Last edited by Orion Commander; 08-13-2017 at 04:05 PM. Reason: spelling, editing can't be done on phone & internet is back up on desk top

  20. #20
    Mostly weed control, BUT the garlic HAS to be able to come up through the mulch. If your area has issues with freeze/thaw and resulting heaving then mulch helps protect the garlic.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LC View Post
    Mostly weed control, BUT the garlic HAS to be able to come up through the mulch. If your area has issues with freeze/thaw and resulting heaving then mulch helps protect the garlic.
    We have major issues with freeze/thaw here in central Iowa.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  22. #22
    OC... I had to look it up, but garlic apparently does do well in PARTIAL shade. As far as the straw, I wouldn't get too crazy about cutting it in small pieces, but running it through a shredder would make it easier to get around plants that are already established. If you're putting it on top of newly planted cloves, in general, baled straw will have been broken up enough during the baling process to be fine the way it is.

    I just harvested a 3 1/2' x 7 foot raised bed of mostly hardneck garlic (there was probably 3-4 softneck types mixed in... these are from purchased cloves maybe 20 years ago, and the variety names have long since been lost) Got just short of 1/2 bushel of really nice cloves. I'll be planting some back in a week or two, once I get some of the other beds under control (weeds went nuts this year)

    Summerthyme

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by packyderms_wife View Post
    We have major issues with freeze/thaw here in central Iowa.

    IF you can keep the weeds under control until the garlic begins to sprout, it might be better to mulch after they are growing well, but before your first hard freezes. I do have to say that I've never had the "heaving" problem here in raised beds at all. Planted at soil level would be a different story...

    Summerthyme

  24. #24
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    OC
    the mulch is for BOTH weed prevention and protection from frost. I mulch my raised beds of garlic HEAVILY (6" deep) with either grass clippings or shredded leaves when they are planted in the fall - (end of October). I will not mulch again until the next fall when I am replanting. I will carefully watch for any weeds that pop up and pull them right away (there will be a very FEW with that much mulch).
    “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” REV 3:16

    Raging Deplorable - we do NOT forget; we do NOT forgive; we are LEGION

  25. #25
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    How soon can I plant my garlic??? And where do I purchase the garlic bulbs? What I'm interested in planting is something my mom planted, it was German something or another. I like a hot and spicy garlic.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  26. #26
    Ideally I think garlic should be planted when overwintering plants come up. Or when winter wheat is planted if grown in your area.

    Seed garlic can be purchased from Sees Savers Exchange, Filaree and others. Your mother may have raised German Red, a hot hard neck. Some sources may have limited choices at this point but you should be able to find something you will like.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LC View Post
    Ideally I think garlic should be planted when overwintering plants come up. Or when winter wheat is planted if grown in your area.

    Seed garlic can be purchased from Sees Savers Exchange, Filaree and others. Your mother may have raised German Red, a hot hard neck. Some sources may have limited choices at this point but you should be able to find something you will like.

    Thank you, I think you're correct about the variety.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  28. #28
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    So I asked on my communities FB page about planting garlic and the basic advice was the last week of September for central Iowa, and yes the German Red hard neck does very well here in central Iowa. Now, to find some garlic bulbs to plant.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  29. #29
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    I buy garlic at the local farmer's market, that way I know that variety will grow in this area. I replant at least half of what I grow each year. Last year I made spicy pickled garlic, and put some cloves in the freezer for cooking. This year I'm making garlic powder.
    I could make it cheaper!!!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinghy View Post
    I buy garlic at the local farmer's market, that way I know that variety will grow in this area. I replant at least half of what I grow each year. Last year I made spicy pickled garlic, and put some cloves in the freezer for cooking. This year I'm making garlic powder.
    That's a good idea, might have to go to the FM tomorrow to see what I can procure.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  31. #31
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    We plant several different varieties for different purposes. Jung's Seed is a northern grower (here in WI) and their Music variety is wonderful. With the "save only the biggest and best; sell and eat the rest" method, I've now got people asking if it is elephant garlic, lol. HUGE cloves, easy to peel, and quite hot when fresh. Makes fantastic garlic powder, and easy to work with b/c you are peeling much larger cloves. I hate peeling hundreds of those pinky sized things to dehydrate, haha.

    And FWIW, I mulch with grass clippings both after fall planting, and again early in the spring to keep those weeds down. For whatever reason, the biggest dandelion problems we have are always with the rotating garlic bed.........

    Word to the wise: if you are going to dehydrate garlic or onions, don't do that in your house......... or garage.

    ETA: I don't plant up here (NE WI, pretty close to L. Michigan) until at least Columbus Day or later. I've even planted as late as Thanksgiving Day (it was a super wet September/October) and it grew just fine the next spring.
    “Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
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  32. #32
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    Yesterday I dehydrated the last of the garlic that I put aside to make powder. Today I ground it, and added to the batch I did a couple of weeks ago. I have about a pint and a half now. It smells so good!
    I could make it cheaper!!!

  33. #33
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    Garlic loves good drainage so I always amend sand into the soil every year!

    October is the best time to plant the garlic cloves here in western Wa. and well, pretty much most everywhere. V

  34. #34
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    Alrighty. I purchased - from my local organic foods co-op two types of garlic (to insure that they weren't treated and would actually grow), one is german red and is for hardy climates and is grown by a local we know, the other I have no idea what it is but the flavor is intense and bulbs are huge. Locals tell me to plant this coming weekend.

    Now, it's been at least 25 years since I've planted garlic. How do I plant and take care of the stuff?
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by vessie View Post
    Garlic loves good drainage so I always amend sand into the soil every year!

    October is the best time to plant the garlic cloves here in western Wa. and well, pretty much most everywhere. V
    I've got plenty of sand, thank you for the tip!
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by packyderms_wife View Post
    Alrighty. I purchased - from my local organic foods co-op two types of garlic (to insure that they weren't treated and would actually grow), one is german red and is for hardy climates and is grown by a local we know, the other I have no idea what it is but the flavor is intense and bulbs are huge. Locals tell me to plant this coming weekend.

    Now, it's been at least 25 years since I've planted garlic. How do I plant and take care of the stuff?
    I loosen up the dirt, which I think is the most important part, then plant each clove about two inches deep. Make sure to plant with the pointy end up. I put a thin covering of leaves on top if I can get some raked. Then I just leave them alone until spring, when I feed them some fish emulsion. Easiest thing I grow! Lol
    I could make it cheaper!!!

  37. #37
    Garlic likes rich soil. I use well composted manure and mulch heavily with shredded leaves. I live in zone 5a so maybe a deep mulch would not be necessary where you live. The leaf mulch from the previous year gets tilled in with the manure. I have added rock phosphate, but not every year. Our springs tend to be wet so I do not water unless it is very dry. If it is too wet the garlic can rot. The deep mulch helps with keeping the ground moist. The soil must be nice and loose so the bulbs can grow.

    It sounds like the garlic you have is hard neck. German red is a hard neck and the other one might be German white which is a large white bulb with large cloves. Of course it could be a lot of other varieties as well. If you look at some of the garlic sites on the 'net you might be able to identify the second one. I grow mostly German white, but I try different kinds each year and I have several others this year that I bought at a garlic festival and I am eager to try them. Roja and Music also do well for me.

    When the garlic forms scapes in the spring, cut them off when they curl back on themselves and make some nice pesto with them. You can cook them also, but I don't think they have much flavor when they are cooked. You cut the scapes so that the energy goes into the bulb. When about 1/3 of the leaves turn brown that is the time to dig the bulbs. The hardnecks are hung in bunches of 2 - 4 bulbs, the softnecks can be braided. Trim the dry tops and roots AFTER they are completely cured or they will not keep well.

    I plant in October, but I have planted in November if I have to. It did not seem to matter. It sounds like a lot, but garlic is very easy to grow and is mostly hands off. I don't do anything with it after I get it planted and mulched until I cut the scapes. I don't even walk where it is planted to keep the soil nice and loose, the deep mulch prevents weeds from growing in the bed. The gigantic earthworms keep the soil loose, too.

    I do not have a large space to grow enough to keep some back to plant so I buy seed garlic every year. I usually harvest about 60 or 70 bulbs and that lasts for almost a year.
    Last edited by spinner; 09-18-2017 at 10:33 AM. Reason: spelling

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner View Post
    Garlic likes rich soil. I use well composted manure and mulch heavily with shredded leaves. I live in zone 5a so maybe a deep mulch would not be necessary where you live. The leaf mulch from the previous year gets tilled in with the manure. I have added rock phosphate, but not every year. Our springs tend to be wet so I do not water unless it is very dry. If it is too wet the garlic can rot. The deep mulch helps with keeping the ground moist. The soil must be nice and loose so the bulbs can grow.
    We're in either Zone 5A or 5B it seems to change every year.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner View Post
    It sounds like the garlic you have is hard neck. German red is a hard neck and the other one might be German white which is a large white bulb with large cloves.
    This sounds right, I think the ones are german white.
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner View Post
    I do not have a large space to grow enough to keep some back to plant so I buy seed garlic every year. I usually harvest about 60 or 70 bulbs and that lasts for almost a year.
    Sounds like a comparable consumption, garlic wise. Do I leave the little papery covering on the clove when I plant it, or do I remove it?
    People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.

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