View Full Version : Growing garlic

05-15-2010, 10:47 PM
I want to grow a couple of rows this year but I can't buy sprouted bulbs ...just the dry dormant ones from the fruit and vegetable shop .Any suggestions as to how I get them to sprout ?

05-15-2010, 10:57 PM
Plant them? :)

05-15-2010, 10:59 PM
Yep ....but I'd like to plant them as the shoots appear.

05-15-2010, 11:26 PM
Pick apart the bulb and plant the fat cloves, right side up. You don't need the sprouted ones,you are in Australia?:) Not like the frost is going to get 'em.

05-15-2010, 11:51 PM
Garlic up here at the top of the planet is put in the ground in the late fall, just at the night temps begin to dip below freezing. Just a single clove is planted, never as a sprouted start. The clove over-winters and sprouts when the ground thaws in the spring. Foolproof.

05-16-2010, 12:24 AM
Peter; I get my seed garlic from the vege section in the local supermaket. Seems to work OK.

Why? Plant while dormant, before shoots. The cloves will work on roots instead of top growth.

Sounds reasonable, I've always waited until I could see a green center in the clove. I'll try your way this year.

Garlic up here at the top of the planet is put in the ground in the late fall, just at the night temps begin to dip below freezing. Just a single clove is planted, never as a sprouted start. The clove over-winters and sprouts when the ground thaws in the spring. Foolproof.

I can see a tiny flaw in your plan....;):D

05-16-2010, 12:30 AM
Garlic up here at the top of the planet is put in the ground in the late fall, just at the night temps begin to dip below freezing. Just a single clove is planted, never as a sprouted start. The clove over-winters and sprouts when the ground thaws in the spring. Foolproof.

Hmm. Maybe I planted mine too early last fall. I put in a whole row of cloves and they all sprouted before the frost. Only 3 made it through the winter.

05-16-2010, 12:43 AM
They actually had a little segment on garlic on Gardening Australia today Peter.
I haven't had too much luck with garlic yet- so take my advice with a handfull of salt:rolleyes:. I can get them to sprout and grow in the soil pretty well, but last years crop dried out a few times at the wrong times and the soil was a bit poor (sandy and hyrdophobic despite all the stuff I have added to it). Not much to dig up at the end so I just left them in and some are coming up again this time. I am planning to put a big crop in this same bed after I dig a heap of compost and manure through- this front yard bed needs a lot of work. Before we had a proper garden (at this house) all my previous attempts were limited by soil- using poor quality potting mix. I got garlic, small-ish bulbs, but it was pretty tasteless.

As far as I understand it,
just break apart some nice garlic bulbs (I prefer the purple ones) and plant the bigger ones. Try to keep a section of that hard dry 'sole' on each individual bulb. Plant just deep enough to cover the bulb.
Don't let them dry out, and give them good rich soil.
And that is about it.
I've read in Australian gardening books to plant on the shortest day of the year and on the longest day of the year.

If you really want to sprout them first you can just break them apart as per the directions above, and then position them all point up- snug and holding each other in position so they don't fall over- in a flat bottomed dish or container of appropriate size, and then put a little bit of water in the bottom and keep in a warm place. Change the water before it goes milky and bad, and you should get roots appearing in a week or two. I've done this before, and in some cases it may offer the advantage of kickstarting the growing process (as just planting straight into soil seems to always include quite a few stragglers who don't start growing quickly)- but I certainly wouldn't leave them sprouting too long after the initial root growth starts (and wouldn't wait for a green shoot out the top)- I don't see the point. Once they have started rooting, get em into the ground.

just an interesting side point- elephant garlic is apparently a type of leek that forms bulbs. Pretty tasteless to me, but my partner loves the stuff.
This year half my leeks I have put in has actually been from the bulbs that grew on last seasons leeks that I let go to seed. It seems to have given them a real kickstart compared to growing from seeds and seedlings.
I also had a few leeks out of 60 or so that formed 'tree onion'-like mini bulbs on the seed heads, each one with their own individual green shoot coming out- so the other half of my leek patch is planted with these. I am interested in seeing if the trait is continued/past down.
While I have thousands of leek seeds now, I would like to just keep growing them from the root bulbs and or the tree onion bulbs. I always get a fair bit of dormancy from transplanting when doing it the seedling way.

05-16-2010, 12:59 AM
Thanks Hans , I'll try the standing them in a dish of water proceedure ...I just want a moderately uniform strike .I'm planting now , beginning of winter, as winter is my best gardening season .No frost up here on the ridge and we only get down to 7 or 8c .I had a good crop last summer but they all rotted when the wet arrived .Our winter is dry but I've got lots of water in the dam ,so I'm in with a chance !

05-16-2010, 02:56 AM
Is this your tomato growing season too?
I could send you a few seeds if you are interested.
Different climates, different soils... different results with each most probably.
I have a bit of a range of ones I collected seeds from this year-
my favourite for taste was these little green/yellow grape like things- they ripen to yellow on the outside and are a rich meaty savory green on the inside. Fantastic flavour. Not the heaviest bearer but quite reasonable. I don't know what type they are- they either came from a 'mixture' seed bag from Eden Seeds (and I can't find anything in their catalog that describes them), or they were from a plant that was simply labeled 'salad tomatos' from a plant that Krista picked up from some market or somwhere. Definitely an heirloom of some sort.
I only had one plant of that one, but will be planting a whole lot of them next season.
Other than that I could send you a few seeds from quite a wide selection of both 'saved seeds' and ones straight from the packet.
Shoot me a PM if you are interested.

05-16-2010, 04:21 AM
PM coming ! I've got a lettuce variety that turned up the same way , quite unidentifable but excellent !

05-16-2010, 06:11 AM
We plant regular garlic when we cannot get the garden store type and do so in the fall of the year for a spring yield. There are two types of garlic, hard neck and soft neck. We had better success with soft neck. Its usually ready when the tops turn yellow and fall over. We use raised beds with natural composte and continue to freshen the beds with natural cuttings after we have cooked it for about eight to nine months as a rule. It takes about 120 to 150 days for mature bulbs.

05-16-2010, 06:27 AM
Yeah, the Gardening Australia segment talked about hard and soft necked varieties- purple stripe being hard and the commonly store-bought white/yellow being soft.
I've had equally low success with both;)
It takes a lot of work and compost to turn a dry hydrophobic dusty sandy barren front yard into a viable patch, especially when our other beds make their own claims on the 'good stuff.' I think it is going to take a rather large manure delivery (along with the regular compost inputs) to bring it up to scratch.

Good garlic seems to come and go in our market- mostly always absent in the supermarkets, and less so in the big and small fruit and veg actual markets. Sometimes locally grown good stuff is impossible to find. Most of our regular garlic seems to come from China- in big bags for a couple of dollars. Very cheap, not all that bad, sometimes horrendous, and never great, and something altogether not-quite-right about it. I have always wondered how they manage to get the stuff from China to Australia with it still being firm and crisp... irradiation? refrigeration? something else?

I assume that Chinese garlic doesn't make it to US shores- is that right? Do you have your own dodgy imported garlic from somewhere else?

05-16-2010, 06:37 AM
We get the Chinese stuff at 1/3 the price of local ...but I haven't bought any yet :D ,I stick to the local one , it's whitish colour , quite good really but I haven't seen your purple strip yet !

05-16-2010, 06:39 AM
It’s been a long time since I planted garlic back in Upstate New York, but my recollection is that we planted individual bulbs broken off from bunches of garlic from the grocery, and that these were planted in the late Autumn, to be harvested late the next summer.

There are quite a few sites that give detailed instructions…for example:

When is the best time to plant garlic in the home garden? The answer is, "it depends".
In the USA and Europe, garlic can be planted either in the early spring or late fall / early winter.
Spring Planting
Poor weather conditions often mean that spring planted garlic produces smaller bulbs. In addition the seed garlic must be chilled before planting in order to cause it to break out of its dormancy. That said, spring garlic planting can produce good results in the warmer Southern areas where it is often planted in late February or March. It also removes any possibility of the plant being damaged by the winter cold.
Autumn / Fall Planting
In more Northerly areas it more common to plant garlic towards the end of the year. In Europe there is a tradition of planting garlic on the shortest day of the year, however this is probably more for symbolic reasons than horticultural ones.
The usual advice to gardeners is to plant fall garlic soon after the first major frost of the year, usually between mid-October and late November depending on your local climate. Garlic is generally winter hardy, however can be damaged if the temperatures are very cold and the snow cover thin. If this is the case, cover the garlic with straw to protect it.
If all is well then the shoots of fall planted garlic should emerge from the ground in early spring. If not then you still have the opportunity to plant a spring crop.

05-16-2010, 06:58 AM
We get the Chinese stuff at 1/3 the price of local ...but I haven't bought any yet :D ,I stick to the local one , it's whitish colour , quite good really but I haven't seen your purple strip yet !

yeah, I buy the Chinese stuff as a last resort- except for occasions when I am using it for other purposes- I have a favourite recipe for prawns and crabs in their shell that calls for a lot of garlic.
Very simple- lots of fresh chopped hot chili, tons of chunky chopped garlic, a splash of olive oil and salt, all rubbed together, and then thrown onto a screaming hot cast iron pan or BBQ plate with an airtight lid on top. Tossed a couple of times as you try to avoid the choking searing fumes. Sort of low pressure smoke cooking. The garlic and chilli are disposed of at the end of the few minute cooking time, and the flavours have penetrated in to the meat- which is ever so tender and juicy.
The Chinese garlic works just fine for this purpose. No doubt real garlic would work better, but I can't bring myself to burn and throw out that much good expensive garlic.

I am surprised you haven't seen the purple striped garlic- it is very common down here where and when good garlic can be found.
Great stuff when it is fresh and properly grown

Paul Pless
05-16-2010, 07:40 AM
The garlic and chilli are disposed of at the end of the few minute cooking timedear god why???:rolleyes:;)

05-16-2010, 07:51 AM
dear god why???:rolleyes:;)I'll pretent the wink was not sarcasm;)
Because due to the cooking style, it is burnt and tastes rather bitter and horrible.
Don't worry, I've tried to eat the stuff, but it really isn't a good idea:D
The seafood is smoked and surface fried (and a little steamed) until it is cooked, in a very smokey slightly pressurised high temperature environment- the chili and garlic protect the shells of the things from getting overly cooked by the incredibly hot cast iron, and provide the smoke. With good fresh prawns, the shells and legs get crispy enough that one can just eat the things whole (as I prefer... crunch crunch...) and the quick cooking time ensures that the flesh is perfectly juicy.

It is actually a very good recipe/technique. I don't want to blow my own horn:rolleyes: but my chili and garlic prawns and blue swimmer crabs done this way are universally greeted with orgasmic like groans and slurps of satisfaction by even my fussiest foody friends.
Try it!
Don't try to cook it inside!:D

Paul Pless
05-16-2010, 07:54 AM
I'll pretent the wink was not sarcasm;)
Because due to the cooking style, it is burnt and tastes rather bitter and horrible.Thanks, I often cook with lots of garlic and peeper, but not usually with your technique. Sounds interesting i will probably be giving it a try.

05-16-2010, 08:09 AM
Thanks, I often cook with lots of garlic and peeper, but not usually with your technique. Sounds interesting i will probably be giving it a try.
and don't be shy with the garlic or the 'peeper',
you'll scare the pants off any peeper-phobe;) watching, but with this method it is pretty hard to make it too hot.
I don't think you will be disappointed. It is one of my guaranteed success dishes for throwing BBQ's for people.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it... Dammit.:o

John of Phoenix
05-17-2010, 09:53 AM
Hans, what kind of hot peppers do you use? Cook with or without seeds?

I have a little garlic patch going that I've overwatered pretty severely and stunted much of the growth. Live an learn. Next year, I'll get it right.

Paul Pless
05-17-2010, 09:55 AM
Over-watered in Phoenix, Arizona???

kinda ironic

John of Phoenix
05-17-2010, 10:30 AM
Yeah, I should know better. The top of the soil dries out and looks all baked while the bottom is doing just fine. I normally water the potted plants once a week and they do just fine. Given the wooden planters and increased evaporation, I thought I'd pamper the garlic with water twice a week and all but drowned the little guys. There's still enough to salvage for next year though.

This was taken in Jan when it was still cool on the weekly schedule. We had an early hot spell and I went overboard. I'll have to take a current pic and force myself to post it. :o Not pretty.


John of Phoenix
05-17-2010, 10:54 AM
Thanks again for the seed crop Fred. I'll do you proud yet.

Bobby of Tulsa
05-17-2010, 05:40 PM
That stuff Mr.Z grows loves Okla. It is growing like crazy. :)

05-17-2010, 07:08 PM
Mine is looking good again this year...I've got three or four types that were sent, and I can't remember what they were, but all are good. This year I had the high school kids set me up 6 large clay pots for the new stuff, and it's looking good now. It rained all day today so it's wet.

05-17-2010, 07:55 PM
Hans, what kind of hot peppers do you use? Cook with or without seeds?

Anything red and hot (6-8 hot is what I would aim for)-and yes I cook with the seeds. Birds eye chillies mostly, but depends on what is available and affordable or growing in the garden.
With the olive oil in the mix, the chunky chopped garlic and chili just fries and crisps (and eventually burns at least in part) and seems to send all its own flavours and oils and good stuff straight up through and into the seafood. You want it chopped chunky depending on the time it is going to need on the hotplate/pan- which depends on the size of the prawns/crabs. Slightly bigger chunks for longer cooking times.
You get a bit of heat come through but not all that much, and you won't actually be eating the garlic/chili remains, so you needn't be concerned about the seeds.

One could of course add other things into the mix- but there is something so perfect to me about good clean simple and fresh- seafood, garlic and chili.

Next time I do it I will try to remember to take some photos.

05-17-2010, 08:55 PM
Carol found 3 big " clumps ":D of stripey purple garlic cloves in the Indian fruit shop in town yesterday Hans , I'll start about 30 plants .

05-17-2010, 09:34 PM
Excellent Peter,
let us know how they go.
I'll try to get your seed pack together tomorrow-
Aside from the standard fair I have a couple of oddball things you may be interested in.
I could give you one seed of the two I have of a lovely Red Wax Jambu (http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/wax_jambu.htm)- on our old farm up there near you we used to have a Jambu tree and it did very well in the volcanic soil- absolutely dripping with gorgeous red fruit in season. My grandfather was born in and grew up in Java, and this fruit (the 'Java Apple') was one of his favourite as a boy and one of the many fruits from his birthplace he managed to source and grow again on our farm. That link above shows the tree nicely (though ours was a bit more open and prettier;)) but it doesn't have a good image of the large ripe fruit- google image will get you some good results. Quite an incredible fruit and lovely tree. It was also favourite of my sister and I as kids as well- she is the one who recently gave me the seeds.
I also could give you a couple of seeds from a native lime I found bushwalking up north of Brisbane. Quite an odd but interesting tree and very small fragrant limes. The little juice pearl things that make up a segment of a citrus fruit were in this lime so taught they were crunchy when you pop them in your teeth. While they did not appear to be a good juicing lime from the wild fruit I picked (might differ under cultivation), their incredible flavour would have to be useful for something- marmalade, etc. I made a candied type sauce with the segments and it was incredible.

I am going to try to grow both of these in pot plants down here- but them both being tropical/sub-tropical plants, I don't fancy my chances too well- so if you are interested I might as well give them a better chance up your way.
If you don't know it already, the Jambu really is a stunning plant and fruit.


05-17-2010, 09:50 PM
The Jambu looks interesting it's Syzygium samarangense ,most of the syzygiums have edible fruit Any idea how big the fruit is ?I was eating fruit from my favorite S Australis just 30 minutes ago ...my kids have eaten it's fruit , now the grandkids !

The bush lime is grown here , it's not common but a couple of locals have them in cultivation ...brilliant flavour ! I can't imagine a good restaurant without them .

Here's a photo of my (very weedy ) youngberry patch ...they're growing frantically , the tendrils seem to grow 900mm per week ! I'm looking forward to a crop :):).


05-18-2010, 12:33 AM
Gday Peter,
the Jambu's I grew up with would grow to about the size of a small apple but a bit more elongated- looked pretty much like this- quite a decent size.
What size are the Australis ones you have?
From googling images on Wax jambu I see a range of different shapes/sizes and colours. I didn't see the fruit these seeds came from but my sister said they were really delicious ones.
Knowing and liking Syzygiums I am sure you wouldn't be disappointed- if you could get it to grow (I just read that germination of Syzgiums seeds "may be slow and spasmodic").
You are welcome to a seed if you like- and I'll try luck with the other one.

Most likely the bush limes you know would be the same ones I found- as the region is not too far away (Nth of Bris.). After finding them I did a bit of research and discovered we have quite a few different native limes/citrus (before this I didn't know). Some of them sound fantastic.

05-18-2010, 01:24 AM
Jambu seed will be most welcome ! The size of a small apple ....WOW !:D:):D

The S.Australis fruit is about the size of a small acorn and the best bush fruit around here ! YUM.

05-18-2010, 02:19 AM
No problem then,
I'll pop a Jambu seed in the collection and wish you the best of luck with it. I hope you manage to get it growing, because one day I might want to get a seed or cutting back from you;)- that is if I ever manage to move somewhere warmer again:o
I'll try to get the other seed growing anyway, but might wait for it to warm up a bit- frosts are almost here.
Yes they are nice and big-ish, deliciously crunchy and juicy and subtly sweet and fragrant- it sounds like you know all about this already... except for the fruit-size maybe:cool: And the tree, the flowers, and the fruit growing, really are something special- at least our was.

05-18-2010, 02:28 AM
So ...what did you think of the weedy bramble patch ? I'm really looking forward to some fruit :)...I think they're supposed to die back over winter then reshoot in Spring , but I'm not sure :confused: .It's a tropical variety ..so it can take the heat and humidity .The weeds will disappear under a layer of sawdust and horse manure mulch soon .

05-18-2010, 02:53 AM
Looks good to my untrained eye- I don't know about those sort of berries at all. We grew blueberries on our farm, but they were pretty marginal in their production. I have some sort of raspberry outside in a pot that I got from a roadside stall, that died from neglect during a hot summer spell, and then fulfilled my hopes for re-incarnation and grew back again with some water. I should put it in a bed somewhere I think- the pot is way too small and nothing good will come of it.
Honestly I was busier gazing with jealousy at your Papaya trees...:o
I miss that climate.
Maybe someone else can comment on your bramble patch- I've read over the past here your questions and conversations over the things and am eagerly awaiting some berries too:D

05-18-2010, 04:43 AM
I planted another 13 papaya / pawpaw trees this year , I might be lucky and get 4 females out of it .....the rest will be males and no fruit ! 4 females with the one down the garden will give heaps of fruit though .A few tamarillos in too !

05-18-2010, 05:38 AM
John, a suggestion, water once a week and use some mulch to maintain your moisture.

05-18-2010, 06:00 AM
Here's a shot of the garlic I grow

plant in the fall harvest when it falls over in the late spring/early summer

don't know the variety, it's been handed down in the family. My grandfather was growing it in the early 1900's


John of Phoenix
05-18-2010, 10:16 AM
This was Jan 29, having been planted Nov 1 - about 90 days in the ground and really looking nice. They sprouted in 10 days and got a dose of seaweed fertilizer every two weeks.

Ok Fred, don't yell.

This was a week ago, May 10th - about 190 days in the ground.

This was yesterday - just short of 200 days since planting. I've pulled several bulbs from the two left planters where the stalks were past the point of no return. The bulbs are small, just over an inch, but healthy - no rot or mold and healthy roots. I plan on drying them for a couple of weeks then cooking with them.

This being my first attempt with garlic, I suspect that with our warm winter temps and the resulting quick sprouting I should have delayed planting until maybe Feb or even Mar to get a longer day. My thinking is that more sun during the growth period should result in a larger bulb.

Any thoughts?

John of Phoenix
05-18-2010, 02:34 PM
Thanks Fred. I'm having trouble with the small planters drying out unevenly and the granules should help. I'm also going to rebuild the small ones into something larger and line the sides with plastic like the larger planter at the right edge of the picture.

05-18-2010, 04:08 PM
Miracle Grow makes a moisture control potting mix that works great for small containers.