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Old April 22, 2018   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Needing some help with assorted garlic questions

Short intro: My first attempt at growing garlic was Sept '16 with a 4-variety "for the South" assortment from The Garlic Store. I got to choose four out of a goodly list of varieties. I followed their growing directions to the letter and also researched other methods online, all of which led to a pretty successful crop for two of the four varieties; 'Maiskij' (the better of the two) and 'Scilla', both hardneck Turban types.

Something must have been done right with the curing and storage because this past September I had enough successfully saved back to replant. They're looking fine right now, about 60 Maiskij, 25 Scilla and 11 "WalMart Specials". The WalMarts came from two big beautiful bulbs in the grocery section. I had never seen such big pretty bulbs there before so I bought two and planted them. Hey, my first effort was good so now I'm golden in my efforts, right?

Right now the garlic plants are starting to shoot up numerous narrow leaves. They did this last year and I don't know what it means. Here's a pic:



The ones in the foreground happen to be the Walmarts which are showing this the heaviest. The Maiskij in the background are just starting.

Question: What does this mean in the life cycle of garlic? Does it indicate the initiation of clove differentiation? Or adding more skin layers? I can't find any information online about this. It's gotta mean something.

Question: How died back do you let the leaves get before harvest? Not knowing this past spring I pulled one when the leaves were about half brown and the head hadn't started "cloving" yet. From reading other posts here in Alliums, I think you're calling that a round? I let the garlic go until, when I stuck a finger down in the soil and felt the head, I could feel individual cloves. I want to maximize head size but don't want to let them go too long and start separating.

Question: What kind of pest makes small pinholes in cured heads, resulting in that particular clove (and maybe its neighbor too) browning up inside the head? I did an initial cure of the pulled heads mid May by putting them on a screen for about three days under an open air pole shed and then tied them in bundles to hang there for two weeks. Then I took the bundles into the house and hung them in a closet from the clothes bar where they stayed until replanting. Most all of them were totally fine except for those few with those pinholes. Since I couldn't find anything like that online I'm thinking it might be something that's not specific to garlic but which will mess with it if given the opportunity. I need to prevent it.

Question: How old do heads have to be to have the clove's skins loosen when a clove is smacked on the cutting board or is it variety specific? The garlic was pulled mid May and by August I was cooking with those heads not selected for replanting. Those skins just didn't want to part with their cloves! And the skins were thin, too. A lot more than their grocery store cousins. Tedious peeling.

I think that's all the questions I have for now ("Geez! How many questions can she have?"). There's one more lurking about back in the brain's stacks but it refuses to come forward right now so if it surfaces later, I'll add to this post.

Any help y'all can give will be very much appreciated! I've been gardening for years but alliums are a new adventure for me.

BTW, Thank you to TomNJ for your suggestion in another thread about chopping and freezing garlic in freezer bags in 1/4" thick mini-slabs where it's easy to break off what you want to use. Genius! From this first ever crop I experimented; thinly sliced it, dehydrated it and then whizzed it into garlic powder. Great stuff! MUCH better than store bought. I keep it in the freezer so it doesn't clump up. Slicing was another tedious chore but I have since bought a little Zyliss garlic slicer (think mini mandoline) so I'm ready to breeze through that chore this year.
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Old April 22, 2018   #2
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You growing soft neck or hard neck?

Oops I re read post, you explain what you are growing...

Last edited by pmcgrady; April 22, 2018 at 10:32 PM.
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Old April 22, 2018   #3
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U of GA advocates for softneck for this area. From what I've read elsewhere, the hardneck turban types will also do here. They must be a bit different kind of hardneck as none of them ever developed a scape.
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Old April 23, 2018   #4
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Usually those close leaves means the garlic is approaching the end of growing. Meaning those are the last leaves it will make, after that just the bulb grows. But I have to say your garlic looks rather unusual, never seen such a serious bunch of leaves, they should be like 3-4. I guess it's the variety, or maybe excess nitrogen?

If you look everywhere, they say harvest when the bottom 3 leaves are brown. That imo is very misleading, if your garlic didn't do great it will have 3 leaves dead way before the right time. So, yeah, it's kinda hard, you really need to check, when you feel individual cloves, is certainly a good time.

The wrappers around the cloves is unfortunately quite cultivar dependent, there are some softneck that are insanely hard to peel with very soft skins close to the clove. They need to be well old before it gets better. Hardnecks are generally easier, with hard skin that comes off quick.
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Old April 23, 2018   #5
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Pinholes in garlic heads=wireworms=click beetle larva.

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Old April 23, 2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zipcode View Post
Usually those close leaves means the garlic is approaching the end of growing. Meaning those are the last leaves it will make, after that just the bulb grows. But I have to say your garlic looks rather unusual, never seen such a serious bunch of leaves, they should be like 3-4. I guess it's the variety, or maybe excess nitrogen?
The garlic was planted mid September with some 10-10-10 worked into the soil pre-planting. They were sidedressed again with the same in November and in February at a rate of 8 oz per 18' row.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zipcode View Post
If you look everywhere, they say harvest when the bottom 3 leaves are brown. That imo is very misleading, if your garlic didn't do great it will have 3 leaves dead way before the right time. So, yeah, it's kinda hard, you really need to check, when you feel individual cloves, is certainly a good time.
There are always a few yellowed leaves around here. Onions, garlic, daylilies, daffodils etc. But the garlic made beautifully. I'll continue checking for clove development.

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Originally Posted by zipcode View Post
The wrappers around the cloves is unfortunately quite cultivar dependent, there are some softneck that are insanely hard to peel with very soft skins close to the clove. They need to be well old before it gets better. Hardnecks are generally easier, with hard skin that comes off quick.
I was afraid of that. Thanks for your help!
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Old April 23, 2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Pinholes in garlic heads=wireworms=click beetle larva.

Worth
Ah so. Thank you for that. Those critters are around here but haven't been a problem in a good while. Fortunately it was just a clove here and there.

About the Maiskij: Catalog notes said "Early, widely adapted, and easy to grow. Stores well. Name refers to May, the month it is harvested."

About the 'Shilla': "Turban hardneck garlic of Korean origin. Very large, vigorous, and early. Light purple striping. Nice scapes. Widely adapted and easy to grow."

As I mentioned, I haven't seen any scapes from either.
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Old April 25, 2018   #8
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I'm not expert about growing garlic in areas without cold winter, but to me it looks like lack of vernalization has caused this odd growth to happen with the WalMart garlic. You should pull one and check, if there those have started to form cloves and all those small leaves are growing from each clove separately.
I have heard that in some cases when hardnecks have been planted here in the spring without vernalization that those have produced thick leek like stalks without any bulb formation. This could also be what has happened in your case. If there is no cloves formed you could use the whole plants in cooking like leeks.

When garlic grows normally, each leaf forms a layer in the wrapper of the bulb. If the bulb has multiple layers of cloves, some of the inner leaves form a wrappers around the inner cloves. The individual clove skins should not have leaves above ground.

Since I grow my garlic almost at the North Pole, I grow mostly hardnecks. I pull my garlic when there is at least 5 mostly green leaves left, because then after cleaning I should still have 5 layer clean wrapper around the bulb to make them store better.

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Old April 25, 2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svalli View Post
I'm not expert about growing garlic in areas without cold winter, but to me it looks like lack of vernalization has caused this odd growth to happen with the WalMart garlic. You should pull one and check, if there those have started to form cloves and all those small leaves are growing from each clove separately.
Thank you, Sari! The garlic did this last year and they all came out fine. Yesterday I felt around one of the plants and it seems they haven't started forming cloves yet. If they haven't started forming cloves in another couple of weeks I will pull one and see.
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Old April 25, 2018   #10
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I think it is still too early where you live but I may be wrong.
I cant remember are they hard neck or artichoke?
Now I looked back and saw hard neck.

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Old April 25, 2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
I think it is still too early where you live but I may be wrong.
I cant remember are they hard neck or artichoke?
Now I looked back and saw hard neck.

Worth
They are a turban-type hardneck which I guess indicates the shape? The name 'Maiskij' refers to May, when it is usually harvested. Last year they were dug mid May and were well formed but it was a lot warmer last spring so maybe a little later this year.

I just found this about Maiskij and turbans in general:

http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/turban.html

Looks like they're supposed to make scapes but mine didn't last year. Maybe they could have stayed in the ground a bit longer but they were fully formed and pretty when I pulled them.

Last edited by GoDawgs; April 26, 2018 at 08:29 AM.
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Old April 25, 2018   #12
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Henry for sure has grown the turban, and can tell you something about it which I can only imagine. Those plants look amazing to me, with the huge stem and frothy little leaves.

One thing about the wireworm damage - I had one bunch of damaged bulbs that I kept separate from the others and I didn't go through the usual steps of trimming and taking them down to a clean wrapper etc, just left them to cure as they were.
When I did clean them up, it seems the damage had penetrated through the bad wrappers and damaged some cloves.
By comparison, the wireworm damaged bulbs that I cleaned carefully, stripping them down even to the last wrapper if that was the only unblemished one, they kept well enough and the cloves were not affected by those bites or bruises.
So my advice if you see wireworm damage, strip em down as far as you need to during the cure, for your best chance of undamaged cloves.
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Old April 26, 2018   #13
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Quote:
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So my advice if you see wireworm damage, strip em down as far as you need to during the cure, for your best chance of undamaged cloves.
Hey, I appreciate that tip! Thanks!
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