25 Garlic-Growing Management Strategies for Preventing Problems and Growing the Best Garlic Ever — 6 Comments

  1. Mycorrhizal fungi. I have planted all of my garlic with this powder for what will be the third season now and have had little problem with my garlic. I will keep doing this with all of my veggies from now on. They seem to survive stress from the weather. a great deal better than if I do not plant them with the good fungi. I would hope everyone who grows garlic would begin to do the same. MF can be found in powder or tablet form. I have tablets I got from a friend of mine and crush them. Then I put the powder in the planting hole and then, the garlic glove. Cover, water and wait. I live in zone 6b in central CT. Did get a bit too much rain this spring and I see some yellow lower seaves. Hope the rain stops soon or there could be trouble!

    • THANK YOU, Barbara, for this great comment, and I am so glad to hear this is working well for you! So timely! I just finished reading Jeff Lowenfels’ “Teaming with Fungi: The Organic Grower’s Guide to Mycorrhizae” and it has truly enhanced my appreciation for the importance of fungi to all living things. I, too, have started using MF in granular and soluble forms throughout my garden and especially with transplants. I’ve also read Lowenfels’ “Teaming with Microbes” (also in the series: “Teaming with Nutrients,” which I hope to read soon). Such great resources; he makes complex soil science understandable. In essence, we aren’t feeding the plants. We are supporting the fungi, bacteria, and microbes that in turn, feed our plants. It’s all about the life in the soil.

  2. Thanks so much for this post! I have been self-sufficient in garlic for several years, but last fall baby #3 came along at garlic planting time and I was not able to plant as much as I would have liked, or as soon as I would have liked. My sister and my other two children did a great job of planting two rows. However, most of what I harvested this summer has already rotted and there are tiny little maggot things in the cloves. They are about 1/8 ” long, and appeared after the garlic was harvested–the plants looked fine in the ground. I don’t think they are onion maggots based on the pictures I’ve seen. Do you have any ideas? I’m in South Carolina and we have had a very hot and humid summer. Many days with temps near 100, but also plenty of rainfall. I put the garlic in a shaded shed to cure it as I do every year. Thanks

    • First of all: Congratulations on your new child, who must be approaching 1 right now. Such a fun time and so many changes!

      As for the garden – Aggghhhh! It sounds like nematodes. I have had more questions about nematodes this year than any other time; there must be some kind of global outbreak going on! Makes me wonder what kinds of new plagues we will face with climate change. I don’t know too much about SC, but by my own experience, my worst critter outbreaks have been under the conditions you describe: hot & humid, or in our case, since we are in the much cooler Pacific Northwest, a warm spell following rain. I have particularly had problems when I have fertilized my beds with too deep of a layer of compost mulch, which provides a warm, nutrient-rich environment and perfect conditions for bugs, fungi, and molds. Nematodes can live in the ground a long time without causing many problems and then suddenly one year, the populations will explode. They were likely very tiny in the bulbs and then grew to something you could more easily see after harvest. I could be wrong, though. There are so many critters out there I don’t know about. An insect problem I have had post-harvest is with earwigs. Oh my! They just love to hide in the wrappers and wiggle their way into the cloves, and especially in any bulb that might be a bit overmature. I have set out tuna cans of oil (safflower, canola, etc. – something cheap) to catch them.

      Molds are my biggest problem here in the Northwest – but I would think it would be even worse in the South. I used to always hang my bulbs to cure outside to catch the breezes – but I have found that we still get frequent low-hanging fog that rolls in off the water in mid/late summer, and most definitely in the fall, and all that extra humidity can really ruin a crop. So heartbreaking when you have worked so hard all year to get it there! Some folks I know do not hang their garlic, but cut the necks off right in the field and then lay them on trays to dry. I usually hang mine for a week or so, watch the humidity levels, and then eventually bring it indoors, hang some from racks and lay some down on trays and turn a fan on them. Kind of a hassle but definitely saved my crop! The lack of space to do all that has really limited how much I grow — but infrastructure is a topic for a different blogpost. Just make sure you have good ventilation in your shed. If it’s feeling muggy, you might need to put a fan on them and keep that air circulating.

      So – what can you do?
      Rotate your crops
      Clean your tools, wheelbarrow wheels, etc., so you don’t transfer things to other areas
      Make sure your seedstock is very clean (I even dip my cloves in rubbing alcohol before planting);
      Remove any diseased bulbs in the field as soon as you spot them;
      Try not to overwater (even though you can’t stop the rain);
      Remove all debris from the field when you are done harvesting;
      Don’t compost anything that is diseased;
      Make sure there is plenty of air circulation during the curing;
      Feed your soil with compost; a strong microbial community keeps things in better balance so one thing or another is less likely to get out of control. Plus, strong plants are more likely to stand up against the onslaught of critters trying to take over the underground universe.
      Go easy on other fertilizers; it’s easy to overdo it. A little nitrogen in early spring is good, but too rich of soil can lead to problems. Compost seems to work best in achieving a balance.

      It’s crazy – you would think garlic, of all plants, would have no problems, right?
      Sorry I can’t be of more help – but wish you the best for next year’s crop.
      Enjoy your new little one (kind of helps put a failed crop in perspective, doesn’t it)
      Thanks for visiting my site…hope it has been helpful.

  3. Thank-you for the latest info on Barbolien Fields about Planting Garlic! but now I have a need for help with Garlic Addiction! I use garlic in the morning in my omlet, scrambled eggs, roasted garlic on my toast etc. In the afternoon I pop pickeled garlic cloves like candy or garlic sauce on crackers. in the evening it’s garlic in the salad or Papa Murphy’s gives me the look!! when I say more garlic on the Pizza more garlic pleeeezzzz. People are avoiding me could it be becuse of the garlic?? I am trying to get my Honey Bees to only visit the garlic plants for nectar and pollen and am still disapointed the honey still does not taste like garlic…..HELP!

    • Dear Walt – I can certainly empathize with your quandries and dilemmas. I have 3 suggestions:
      1. Regarding your social concerns, my question would be are you sure you want to attract the kind of people who are avoiding you? You will be a magnet to those who love garlic — all you need to do is wander in larger circles and they will find you.
      2. Perhaps you would like to go in on writing a cookbook? Have you tried roasting garlic (elephant garlic is also good for this) to caramelize the sugars and then mixing it with ice cream? Maybe we should try soaking chopped cloves in honey, kind of like we would do in olive oil? I think we might be on to something – a kind of sustenance system where garlic trickles into our bodies at measured doses throughout the day.
      3. The issue with addictions is whether they are affecting your personal life. It’s all about the 3 Cs: Compulsion, loss of Control, and negative Consequences. So there might be some ambiguity there. Maybe all we need is a support group for those of us who are enraptured with bees and garlic. We could call ourselves the BGs. Oh wait. That name is already taken.

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