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Old July 18, 2016   #1
SueCT
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Default Inconsistent Garlic size

I grew Garlic for the first time this year, using the largest heads that were available in Agway for Music, Chesnok and German Red varieties. I planted all cloves from each head. I just finished harvesting and most bulbs were small, but overall were just very inconsistent. I got maybe 7 good sized large heads 2-2 1/2", more medium sized heads in the 1 1/2-2" range and quite a few small heads in the 1/-1 1/2" range. I am going to try again this fall, but I am not sure why I didn't get more consistent results and larger bulbs. Is it the size of the bulb it was taken from or the size of the clove you plant that matters? Did our odd weather cause this with the warm winter and late freezes after the bulbs had started to grow again? I have very high organic matter in my soil from all the compost and I mulched with straw heavily, but have not watered much, only a couple of times. Maybe not enough water? Any help will be appreciated, since i probably won't bother to keep growing it if I can't get a better, more consistent harvest of good size bulbs. To me, a "normal" size garlic bulb for cooking is at least 2-2 1/2" in size, at least that is what I usually buy.
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Old July 18, 2016   #2
TightenUp
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I can tell you that I had the same results. Very inconsistent!

One thing I do though is only use the largest cloves from each head.

I have always pulled my garlic july 4th wknd. I think I was early this year. Plants were greener than normal. I left one small bed in an extra 2 weeks and they were all big. I think for me it was timing
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Old July 18, 2016   #3
PhilaGardener
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This was my worst year in a long time for garlic. Smaller cloves than normal, lost some plants to wet conditions, and early die back. I think the strange weather this year was to blame and hope for better results next year.
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Old July 18, 2016   #4
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Was your garlic planted where it got full sun?
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Old July 18, 2016   #5
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Only plant the biggest cloves keep watered and well fertilized.
Don't pull too soon.
About two thirds of the plant needs to have dead leaves on it.
Wait longer and they will start to separate pull sooner and your heads wont be as big.
With me they grow all winter so I have to take care of them all winter.


The same goes for onions on the harvesting dont pull till they fall over.
Sooner and the bulbs are still growing.

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Old July 19, 2016   #6
SueCT
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Yes, the area would probably considered full sun, at least 6-8 hours/day or more. I grow my tomatoes there. The plants had started to die back, with at least 3 or more brown leaves on each plant before I pulled them. The scapes had been cut off all except about 3-4 that I missed. The plants seemed healthy and vigorous until the die back started, but I could tell the foliage was not quite as large as I have seen in a couple of pics from professional growers.
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Old July 19, 2016   #7
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Did you add a granular fertilizer at planting time? It made a big difference for me. I forgot to add it to my first rows and it was obvious that those were smaller.

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Yes, the area would probably considered full sun, at least 6-8 hours/day or more. I grow my tomatoes there. The plants had started to die back, with at least 3 or more brown leaves on each plant before I pulled them. The scapes had been cut off all except about 3-4 that I missed. The plants seemed healthy and vigorous until the die back started, but I could tell the foliage was not quite as large as I have seen in a couple of pics from professional growers.
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Old July 19, 2016   #8
SueCT
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No, I don't believe I used an granular fertilizer. I use lots of compost and some manure last year. My soil test a couple of years ago said I was too high on all nutrients, as well as organic matter, and I rarely use fertilizer since then. I did use a little soluble fertilizer on the tomato plants are right next to them when they looked a little pale after planting, but even that was less than the amt just that one time, and less than the usually recommended amt. None directly to the garlic, and none at planting last year. The soil test said I used either too much fertilizer or too compost, and I am pretty sure it was the compost. But because of that I don't fertilize unless I have reason to suspect a problem.
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Old July 19, 2016   #9
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Do they have same number of cloves but smaller, or are they fewer? That seems to be the most common problem, in which case cold treatment was not enough.
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Old July 19, 2016   #10
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You will have better luck with fall planting i think. And you planted all the cloves. Best to plant the larger cloves only. Also you may have harvested a week or two early without feed during the crucial time...the few weeks before harvest. Consistent water helps.
Just like tomatoes needing food boost and consistent water once fruit set.

Different growing conditions here, much cooler. I planted last fall and just cut the scapes back. Harvesting in about two weeks maybe. Hang and dry in the barn...plant larger cloves in the fall.
re-peat.
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Old July 19, 2016   #11
henry
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Garlic stops growing a when it is over 90 F a toasty summer will decrease bulb size.
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Old July 19, 2016   #12
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I added lots of compost before planting my largest cloves last Fall. I mulch the garlic bed with about 2" of straw to insulate it from temperature swings during the colder months.

I got nice big heads this year except for the 4 plants that the chickens dug up and I replanted in the Spring. They were very much smaller than the others so obviously a physical disturbance to the rooted bulbs makes a big difference. Maybe if your garlic bed was not heavily mulched, the bulbs were moved up and down in the soil by the freeze/thaw cycles that you would have in CT.

If your nutrient levels were really high, it could lead to stunted growth or even be toxic in some cases . If you used granular fertilizer in the past then some of it may have still been breaking down.
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Old July 19, 2016   #13
Ricky Shaw
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My garlic was a bust too, worst year in the seven seasons that I've grown it at this house.
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Old July 19, 2016   #14
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I had mixed results as well.

I think the mild winter, followed by all the up and down temperatures this spring really did a number on my garlic plants, even with a thick mulch layer. The plants sprouted and probably grew too much before winter temps set in. Then this spring we had a warm spell and the plants started taking off just in time for another stretch of freezing temps.

If I had a magic ball that let me see into the future, I would have delayed my fall planting by at least a month last year. I typically plant in the last half of October. This year I think I'm going to try holding off for a couple of weeks..
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Old July 19, 2016   #15
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I had mixed results as well.

I think the mild winter, followed by all the up and down temperatures this spring really did a number on my garlic plants, even with a thick mulch layer. The plants sprouted and probably grew too much before winter temps set in. Then this spring we had a warm spell and the plants started taking off just in time for another stretch of freezing temps.

If I had a magic ball that let me see into the future, I would have delayed my fall planting by at least a month last year. I typically plant in the last half of October. This year I think I'm going to try holding off for a couple of weeks..
Don't let last year influence this year too much.
The El Nino effect had a lot to do with it.

I planted two crops of garlic this year two weeks or so apart.
The second one did better.
Mostly because I picked it at the right time.
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