Some more info from a practical and successful Biodynamic Garlic grower from the Hunter Valley, NSW. Patrice Newell may or may not be known to the reader and in itself, that does not matter. I've not met her although I have corresponded with both Patrice and her farm manager, Roger. I ordered some of her last season's purple Garlic only to find it sprouted within 3 months of living here in the heat and humidity. Although I used some for Garlic sprouts, most ended up in the compost. Quite the most expensive compost I have generated (you're reading about someone who has made dud batches of Sauerkraut which go to compost). I see by what is on the website now, that the keeping qualities of the late season White are probably better.
Anyway ... here you will find a lot of information, tips and even recipes. Although their season is different to here - we mainly grow Garlic over winter - a lot of what she says about growing Garlic could be useful for us.
Elaine asked me to add my 5c worth of garlic experience to this discussion (I think it's this discussion). Disclaimer: this year is the first I've grown more than one or two cloves.
This is the crop I harvested a few days ago. I planted about 50 cloves, yielding 50 bulbs ranging in size from marble to modest golf ball.
Here's what I've discovered. Again, I'm no expert so read on with a salt shaker in each hand.
Garlic need full sun
Controlling for timing (planted at the same time), growing media (mushroom compost) and location (same vegie patch), one lot of cloves accidentally planted between two rows of climbing beans grew into spindly plants that yielded far smaller bulbs than ones planted under full fun. Even after the beans were removed, the shaded garlic never recovered.
Garlic grow very well in mushroom compost
I'd thought mushroom compost would be too rich for garlic but not so. My garlic were planted in the ground comprising of tilled clay soil with some gypsum, blood n bone mixed in. The garlic at my parents' were planted in mushroom compost a week or two after I put mine in. Nothing else was added during the season. We are both growing the same variety. Their bulbs are at least twice the size of the largest ones I have. Their bulbs came out easily, I had to chisel mine out - which tells you how dry and compacted the soil in my ground has become since The Drought.
Garlic need to be heavily mulched
Again while I did mulch after the cloves shooted, I didn't keep the mulch up to them over the months. By the end, the plants were drying out under the hot sun.
Had our winter been a wet one, it could have been possible that heavy mulch may cause the bulbs to rot. I heavily mulched my jicama last year and most of the tubers rotted, so might happen to garlic too. Would be good if somebody can confirm/deny this assumption.
Save the biggest cloves for planting
That's what our Greek friend advised us to do and he's been growing garlic for a long time. So that's what we did.
Plant in Apr, harvest in Sep-Oct
Ditto as above.
Thank you Joseph - the very spot. I have never mulched Garlic so that's something quite new for me. I had the idea that as the bulbs grew on top of the soil, mulch would get in the way. I'm now keen to see how long the cooking Garlic lasts - in the past my own growing Elephant Garlic lasted the year more or less until the next lot was ready. None of the fancy stuff I have bought to grow or the even fancier and pricier biodynamic and organic Garlic survived beyond 3 months in the Garlic basket.
I'm saving these to eat raw. This winter everyone's had the cold or flu except yours truly. :) I'm sure it's because of my fresh garlic regimen.
I'll be seeing my Greek friend next week so I'll ask him how well the bulbs store. I think he just hangs them up until they are ready for planting in Apr.
Thought I'd chip in on this post as well.
I planted Glen Large variety (a QLD variety) completely under the ground but shoot end up. It's all come up.
I planted Elephant Garlic completely under as well and the same way. It's all come up.
When the stuff I buy in a grocery store shoots, I plant it only between a third and half into the ground, green shoot up. Every bulb has struck. (Previously, every bulb rotted and died).
I'll be interested to see how they produce.
So would I. Several of us clubbed together and bought some GL. Although we all got some bulbs, it didn't perform any better than whatever each of us was doing before.
I think the microclimate counts more than the variety - as long as the variety is suitable for growing in the subtropics. My parents and I have the same variety. Theirs are huge out at Greenbank, mine are half the size if I'm lucky. I prepare the beds in exactly the same way.
Last year wasn't a good one for the garlic as we had several days of heavy rain prior to harvest time. We lost a few to immediate rot and quite a lot more had succumbed by the time mid-Mar came around this year. I have tried store bought Australian garlic, but while they sprouted, none produced a bulb bigger than my thumb after 5 months in the ground.
Coolowl's gardening maxim is: 'Microclimate is all'.