Here at Keene Garlic, we take pride in ensuring that all of our customers grow a successful garlic crop. If you’re new to growing garlic, it’s normal to have a lot of questions regarding garlic care. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve gotten from our customers over the years. If your question isn’t answered here or on our website, we encourage you to send us an email or give us a call. We want our customers to be successful garlic growers!
Why are my garlic leaves yellowing?
Yellow leaves can be normal or a sign that something is wrong
- Is the soil too saturated with water? We want the soil moist but not saturated.
- Have you fertilized the garlic? Garlic is a heavy feeder and yellow signs can be an indication of nutrient deficiency. We do have a garlic fertilizer if you don’t have a multipurpose fertilizer in your mix.
- If your garlic was a few inches tall and was hit by some very cold temperatures which might cause tissue damage on the leaves, and you may see the yellow leaves for the rest of the season. Rest assured they still turn into beautiful garlic even with yellow leaves.
- Do you have any insect issues in your region? On the east coast, there are certain regions that are dealing with Allium Leaf Miner. Leafhoppers can spread Aster Yellow. So there are a number of pests that can and may affect garlic, so google them and be aware of what is in your area.
- If the plant is prematurely dying, then there is a problem, and you would want to pull up the plant to see what is going on underground. Remember, it may not look so pretty as the clove turns to mush as the sprout continues to grow and the bulb does not form until the last 3 weeks before harvest. If you see the bulb rotting then, there may be a problem.
Remember, you are gardening and there are multiple reasons why plants don’t grow and thrive which could be from weather related issues (which is very common this year), to insect issues, animals, and all the other things that go wrong when gardening. It could be the seed too but remember that what you are planting as your seed stock is also our seed stock. Our garlic is our is our livelihood. We are only planting and selling the best garlic that us small family farmers grow on a small level to provide ourselves and you with the best seed stock. If we see an issue, then we know there is a problem with the seed. If we don’t see an issue with our seed stock which is rare for us to find unless it is weather related, then we know if a customer has and issue with their garlic it is likely due to the environment it is grown in and can be subject to a variety of reasons why it does not grow. We grow on multiple fields, test garlic annually, used the same seed stock for decades, keep our fields clean, use best organic farming practices, so our customers can have good seed stock too.
A gardener many need to look back at their gardening notes, weather conditions and all the other reasons for the issue to get the bottom of it. So please read through our website, as we have taken extensive time and effort the past two decades to provide as much information for our gardeners to be successful at growing garlic. We know that by providing the best seed stock grown organically by small farmers on a small scale get customers superb garlic seed stock and the advice we give has led to successful garlic farmers and gardeners. We know it works as we have so many successful garlic growers and customers that come back every year.
Why are my garlic bulbs so small?
There are so many reasons why that could be. First, when you have bulbs with multiple sized cloves, the small clove size in these bulbs will always grow into small bulbs which are usually around 1.5-1.75″, but the other size cloves usually size up to large and jumbo-sized bulbs. Look at the pictures of the bulbs cut in half to see the sizes of the cloves. There are also many reasons for bulb size which includes from the size of the bulb and clove planted, amount of sun, climate of the season, soil temps (once soil temps hit 90 degrees the plant wants to die back, and it may not have gotten to its full potential in size), fertilization and nutrient levels in the soil, weeding, watering, and picking the garlic scape right as it starts to curl. Much of this we can control, but we can’t control the climate of the season.
Timing of the harvest is also critical. Harvest to early and the bulbs will be small. Harvest late and you can risk rotting bulbs or bulb wrapper breaking open. See our page on harvesting garlic for tips. I’m not sure what factors played into the small bulb size, but once those are corrected for what you have control over, you really should have great bulb size.
What Happened to My Garlic?
One of our customers planted garlic in the fall and covered the garlic with mulch purchased from a big box store. This spring, his weeds came up bigger than his garlic! Sometimes mulch or straw from big box stores can be full of weed seeds, so make sure you’re watching where you get it from and make sure the mulch is clean. If you start to see weeds coming up, make sure you’re picking them early so you don’t end up with this. I
t’s important to keep your garlic weeded so that your plants don’t have to compete with the weeds. This will help ensure that your garlic bulbs grow nice and big. Thankfully, he resolved the issue, and his garlic plants have a good chance for survival and producing a garlic bulb.
What is the best way to apply fertilizer in the Spring?
In the spring, broadcast the fertilizer over the straw using the application rate. We use extra fertilizer to make up for the fertilizer that doesn’t make it to the plant due to the straw, so we may double the application rate or apply every 7 days until a week before the garlic scapes come. Water/rain will help the fertilizer make its way into the soil. The nutrients will be there for next season too helping build good nutrient rich soil. We never remove the straw. We want the weed suppression and moisture control!
Need a good fertilizer? Check out our Top Selling Organic Fertilizer! This will provide the nutrients that your garlic needs to yield nice large healthy nutrient-dense plants.
Twin Garlic…is this normal?
Thanks for the question! This is two garlic cloves that were planted together. Sometimes we don’t even notice that there could be two garlic cloves in a wrapper. This is most common with Rocambole Garlic.
When you harvest, you will have two garlic bulbs but where they come together they will be flat. They are misshapen, but still delicious!
I harvested my garlic this spring…why does it look like a green onion? I was expecting a bulb of garlic.
Great question! Most of us harvest our garlic in late June or July. Garlic starts to bulb out during the last 3 weeks before harvest, but until then, it will look similar to a green onion. It can be eaten in this stage as what we call “green garlic,” but wait a few more months if you want to harvest a full garlic bulb!
If you have hardneck garlic, you will pick the garlic scapes after they curl once and then the garlic bulbs start to swell. It will take around 3 weeks to develop into a full-sized bulb with cloves. See our website for more info on when to harvest garlic.
Garlic Varieties Growth
I planted the first-time garlic growers package in the fall in a raised bed, and have it mulched with straw. It’s coming up and looks great! One variety is much taller than the other, I’m guessing that’s normal. I’ll fertilize this weekend, but other than that do I need to do anything besides weed, leave the straw there, and watch and wait? I’m in southern WI.
Leigh Schmidt Hi! I’m sure you are not far from us! Yes, different varieties will show differently in size and shape. In the end though, many of the bulbs are around the same size. In the sampler we usually send our region a porcelain and a purple stripe. You procelian will show a nice strong hardy plant with green leaves that start to point diagonally to the sky. The purple stripe will have thinner leaves that droop a little more and appear a little weaker. That is not the case, they will catch up to the porcelains and be nice hardy plants. You will harvest purple stripes a little later. Here are some tips your other questions for spring garlic care https://keeneorganics.com/…/5-tips-for-spring-garlic-care/
Cold Spring slows down growth?
We’ve had an unusually chilly start to spring here in Louisiana. Will that slow my Lorz Italian from ripening?
Windy Sue Holland Regardless of what the season tends to be, we still usually harvest the same dates annually given 10 days before or later. So it should still end up pretty close to your normal scheduled harvest date. For us, we harvest around mid-late July. We are always done by 8/1.
It is spring, and what is the best way to use up last years crop?
Best way to use garlic from the 2022 crop if you still have a bunch on hand?
Cody Hiemke I would try to plant some if you can. I will share our blog on spring planting. Even if they end up providing you green garlic to eat, that would still be awesome. If they are still edible, I would make them into garlic powder which will be the best you have ever had. You can freeze the cloves and use in recipes later. They will not last much longer, so now is your chance to use them or lose them. Here are some ideas… https://keeneorganics.com/blog/how-to-plant-spring-garlic/ https://keeneorganics.com/blog/green-spring-garlic/
My Garlic plants got damaged, can they be saved?
I plant my garlic in garden beds. My dog recently jumped in and sat on garlic leaves and bend them and broke a few. About 10 total. Are those bulbs doomed?
Geraldine Miller Martin Lets let them keep growing. Depending on the amount of damage, garlic will try to spring back and grow. You could give them a compost tea or foliar feeding at night to give them some nutrients to want to keep growing. If they are not going to make it, harvest them and use them as green garlic which is delicious. Here are some ways to use them, if you have to harvest them. https://keeneorganics.com/blog/green-spring-garlic/
Most Potent Garlic for Southern States
Pete Poulakos What is the most potent variety of garlic can I grow in south carolina?
Pete Poulakos SC can be a bit harder to grow garlic depending on your microclimate. You may even want to cold stratify your garlic before planting. I think all homegrown heirloom garlic is so much stronger than found in grocery stores. I’ve also learned that everyone’s concept of “potent or strong or hot” is very different. The varieties that grow best are softneck garlic varieties, turbans and creoles. Creoles are known to be very strong, but small bulb that pack a strong flavor. Lorz italian softneck is known to be hot. Here are a few more that grow well https://keeneorganics.com/…/warm-region-garlic-from…/