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What is round or ball garlic?

Can garlic be planted in the spring?

Do All garlics mature and harvest at the same time?

How do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?

I would like to grow some garlic commercially, what do you suggest?

How do you grow garlic so it gets real big?

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


What is round or ball garlic?--

What you seem to have gotten are garlic rounds. As garlic goes through the development underground from a clove to a fully cloved bulb, it first swells into a large round undivided ball with a lot of wrappers that are almost fused together. As it grows, it begins to divide and sub-divide into as many cloves as it can before the heat causes it to lose its leaves. If the temperature increases before the garlic has time to divide, then the result is a large undivided round. Every time we harvest we find some of them. If replanted as is in the fall, they will form large fully divided bulbs the following spring. These rounds have the same taste and other properties as the clove they came from. Mild tasting garlics yield mild tasting rounds and strong garlics result in strong tasting rounds. For spring planting, rounds are your best bet to produce a good size bulb by the time early summer heat forces maturity.

From a cook's standpoint, one large cloves means a lot less peeling, etc. Also, they seem to keep much longer than fully developed garlic, probably due to that heavy, thick wrapper they have. Back to Questions


Can you plant garlic in the spring?--
Yes you can, but it seldom gives as good results as fall-planted garlic because it does not have enough time to develop fully and may result in small bulbs or undivided rounds ( see question on round or ball garlic. For more details please see the Growing Tips page of this website. Back to Questions


Do all garlics mature and harvest at the same time?--
No. It is usually 6 to 8 weeks from the time the earliest variety (Turban or Asiatic Artichokes - such as Chinese Purple or Asian Rose) iss harvested until the time the last variety (Silverskins, like Rose du Var or Locati) is taken out of the ground. Most garlics harvest somewhere in mid season. The larger they are, the longer it takes them to cure, that is, dry down. Back to Questions


How do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?--
Not all varieties harvest at the same time, there's about a 6 or 8 week span between the time the earliest garlics are ready (Asiatic and Turban artichokes) and the time the last ones are mature (silverskins). Wait for the leaves to begin dying down - the die down from the bottom of the plant first and then proceed to die down towards the top. When the top 6-7 leaves are the only ones still green and they're starting to look a little past their prime, that's the time to pull them.

It is the heat that forces garlic to mature and we usually begin our harvest here in early to mid May and it extends into early to mid July. I would imagine your harvest would begin a month or two later than ours. By early May, we're already into the 80's and 90's. If the temperature gets too high and stays there too long early in the year, the some of the garlic may form round, undivided balls, which can be eaten or replanted the following fall to form fully segmented bulbs the following summer. If you are foliar feeding, it is best to stop when the garlic begins to form bulbs and to withhold water during the last 10 days before harvest, weather permitting. Back to Questions


I would like to grow some garlic commercially, what do you suggest?--
Not all garlics do equally well in all places and growing conditions. Some will do better than others for you. There's no point in trying to grow a variety that will not thrive for you. Also, weather makes a difference in how any given crop will turn out. A garlic that thrives one year may do poorly the next if it is unusually warm or cold. You might think about growing several different kinds to see which ones consistently do well for you. We have grown over 50 kinds to find those that do well for us and we are always adding new ones to try and dropping out others that don't excell for us.

I would suggest starting with an assortment of different kinds of garlic with different properties to see which ones do well for you in your environment. You might get some that are early maturing, some that are mid-season and some that mature late (unless you want them all to mature at once). You might also want to get some that are mild, some that are medium flavored and some that are strong. Also, you might want some that store a lot longer than others so that you will still have garlic into the spring, after most other garlic has deteriorated.

I also suggest that you start on a little smaller scale than you will eventually grow to in order to develop routines and refine techniques that you will use later. There's a surprising amount of work that may not seem obvious at first. It is also easier to recover from a mistake if you start small and grow as you learn. It would also be a very good idea to develop your market early on and know pretty much where or how you will sell your produce. Back to Questions


How do you grow garlic so it gets real big?--
As near as I can tell, it takes six things to grow extra large garlics; early planting, proper spacing between plants, the right varieties, the right soil conditions and the right weather and late harvesting. I don't know of any webpage that discusses it in detail.

Some varieties are inherently capable of growing larger due to their genetics, but even so, the conditions must be right. For us, the ones which consistently grow the largest are Simoneti, Metechi, Siberian, Inchelium Red, Chinese Purple and Chinese Sativum (also called Asian Rose). Of course, you could also grow elephant garlic (not a true garlic) if you just want size, because it's the biggest of all - I've grown the the size of softballs. We give all of these plants extra spacing - about 8" apart, but more would probably be better.

I believe that lush garden soil is the best medium for growing large bulbs and that you can't get that with artificial chemicals, only with organics. Thoughtful growers add compost, humus, seaweed, molasses, rock dusts and whatever trace minerals and micronutrients their soil lacks (requires soil testing) to build the best beds possible. There are no shortcuts to true quality. Foliar feeding helps garlic grow big and healthy.

The earlier you plant and the longer you leave garlic in the ground, the larger it will get - within its natural limitations. Garlic won't grow until it is ready to so planting much before the first day of fall doesn't seem to help. Garlic will grow while it is cool and when the temperature gets too hot, it stops growing and its leaves die down. It doesn't do any good to leave garlic in the ground after it has matured as that will cause the bulb wrappers to rot away exposing the bulb to predators and disease. A long cool spring is what helps garlic get big; a spring that turns hot early will cause garlic to bolt prematurely. Some varieties inherently mature a month or more before other varieties. Chinese Purple is the earliest variety we have and harvests in early to mid May. The larger the bulb, the longer it takes to dry down (cure) enough to ship in an enclosed container. Back to Questions


Links to Organic Growing and Gardening Sites

Howard Garrett's Organic Page and Links:
Garden Guides links:
Gardenweb Discussion Forums:
Texas Organic Growers Association - A New Discussion Forum:
The Garlic Seed Foundation:
American Botanical Council's Herbal links:
An Interesting Look at Organic Gardening in Australia - Check it Out:
Garlic Disease Diagnosis:


Do you know of any others you would like us to add?

Links to Other Sites

Chili Appreciation Society International & Terlingua Chili Cook-off
Republic of Texas Chilympiad Chili Cook-off
Internet Nutritional Resources:
Tommy Sellers' LubbockCam - What's going on in Buddy Holly's hometown:

Please feel free to E-MAIL us if you have any questions about garlic.



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