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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1
PureHarvest's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mid-Atlantic right on the line of Zone 7a and 7b
Posts: 1,134
Default PH's 2018 Garlic Effort

Greetings everyone. Here is my attempt at a bigger crop for 2018.
2017 was good. Learned a lot. I got 150 lbs of bulbs from 30 lbs of cloves.
Biggest mistake was not cutting the garlic down from drying strings early enough. I should have cut the necks and roots off by week 2 or so and got them onto drying racks. Needed much more fans/air movement than I had too. I got black mold on a bunch, and it went through all the layers down to the clove. Some got mold in the neck.
This year I am going to cut the tops off the crop with a sickle-bar mower right before I harvest them, and put them right onto drying racks.

I am growing 50 lbs of Music and 100 lbs of German Extra Hardy this year. I did save back a couple pounds of my jumbo Romanian Red and planted it too.
I should have had 100 lbs of Music, but my saved bulbs degraded in storage to the point that I could not plant them. I think it was bulb mites.
I hope to harvest 750 lbs of bulbs.
I smothered the planting area (about 1/4 acre) with two 50x100 silage tarps. They went on in August and came off in early October.
After pulling them off, I had my FIL run his turbo tiller (verticle tillage, does not turn the soil, sort of just slices the surface to about 6" deep) to break the netting of dead plant material (mostly grassy weeds) and roots. I then rototilled the area with a BCS tiller.
My original plan was to plant tillage radish in early July to do the soil loosening for me, so that I could avoid tilling, but the timing did not work out.
Next year I will try to cover and smother my next area in May and June, plant tillage radish in early July, and mow/cover/smother the radish in early October. Plant first week in November. If that doesn't work, my plan B will be to rototill. I use a wire pin flag as my test. If I can push the pin flag into the ground at least 8" with little effort, then it is loose enough for roots to go that deep.
My beds are 200' long and 3' wide. There are 8 beds plus a 9th that is only about 100' long. There is 2' between beds. I am going to try and plant something in March in the 2' walkways to keep weeds from predominating. Probably crimson clover.
I put down 25 lbs of 4-1-8 chicken manure-based organic fertilizer per bed. This supplies about 75 lbs of N and 150 lbs of K. This will supply all of my K needs, but only about 1/2 of the N I want before harvest I will run soluble N through the drip bi-weekly starting in March next year (see below about PPD fish fert).
The beds are covered with Sunbelt 3' wide fabric, with 3 rows of holes burned into it that are 9" apart in the row and between rows. Pinned to the ground along the edges with 6" landscape pins every 6-10'. Wind has been a problem, where it billows the fabric up and pulls the pins out. The fabric then blows off part of the rows. So, I put sandbags down and that helps. The pins are smooth initially, and until they get rust from soil contact, they pull out too easily. The rusty surface is rough, and grabs the soil better.
I cracked the bulbs and soaked the cloves overnight in a solution of powdered fish fertilizer. It is a new product (Pure Protein Dry amino based fish fertilizer) that is 15-1-1 and water soluble. I used 2 tablespoons per gallon. They say that 1 lb of PPD is = to 5-7 gallons of liquid fish fert, or 1lb of PPD is = to 5 lbs of soy meal.
I drained that in the morning and soaked the cloves for 20 minutes in hydrogen peroxide. I bought 4 gallon containers of 25% strength (if I recall, I will have to double check that). I diluted 1 gallon of that with 3 gallons of water.
I built a dibbler out of scraps to make the planting holes in the soil.
I hand planted the cloves (wearing nitrile gloves underneath my garden grip gloves, the hydrogen peroxide will burn your skin white) the first two weekends in November.
I will put 2 rows of drip tape per bed on top of the fabric in spring. I did this last year with a wildflower planting, and the water trickled right through the fabric just fine.
Laying drip tape and then rolling the fabric over that and trying to line the tape between the rows of holes is a pain when you are doing 200' runs. Also, when you are starting with new fabric and burning holes, you have to take the fabric back up after burning, and put the tape down and then put the fabric back on. Too much work.
Pics on the next post.

Last edited by PureHarvest; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:14 AM.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
PureHarvest's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mid-Atlantic right on the line of Zone 7a and 7b
Posts: 1,134

Tarped area

Killed area after tarping

After turbo-tilling, before rototilling

First three beds installed fabric

Holed burned


Holes from dibbler
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
bower's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
Posts: 4,602

Nice to see your post PH, and look forward to following your progress when they are up in the spring. Your field looks great.

That is a bummer about losing some stock to molds and mites. Good call to trim immediately, I think. You have a high humidity environment and a large crop - all of which is very moist anyway until it cures. So I don't think you need worry about drying too fast.

The growers in this story link are trimming in the field to two inches, and then to one inch after curing. The method I followed for home garlic small scale trims longer than that 5-6 inches. A different author said that a short trim or a green trim raises the risk of molds getting in but maybe the reverse is true when the greens are supplying moisture in a humid situation. Also mite problems are linked to moist conditions which they like, so less moisture holding material is a plus for that as well.

I get the impression that curing roots-up also helps to speed the drying time. I do that as well at home after trimming, because it's easy to poke them through a wire grid and takes less space.

Our curing setup at the farm has been ad hoc and less than ideal, with limited space for the size of crop drying. I know there have been some losses some years due to curing problems, as it is often both cool and humid between harvest and planting time and the farm buildings are unheated. So I'm interested to learn about the alternate approach with a trim at harvest time. Maybe it would be a better option. There sure is a huge difference between space requirements for hanging or spreading out plants with greens attached, vs some good rack setup to accomodate trimmed bulbs.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MA/NH Border
Posts: 4,365

Sorry to hear you lost some, and I hope the new approach avoids that next year. If you can grow garlic without the expense of purchasing new seed stock, it's so much cheaper.

I've never tried trimming really short prior to drying, but I did learn that leaving them as is after digging them is disastrous for my climate. What seems to be my happy medium is to trim just the leaves down to about an inch from the stem then tie them into bundles for hanging with a low fan on them. They are usually fine like this until I'm ready to plant. After I select my seed stock heads, I trim both the stems and roots and hang them in a mesh bag.
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