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Garlic on the Two-Year Plan: Planting Topsets, Single Bulbs and Cloves

9/18/2012 9:43:09 AM

Tags: garlic, planting garlic, topsets, single bulbs, worm compost, worm juice, Ellen Sandbeck

Walt and I plant a lot of garlic every year, just so we can survive between one harvest and the next. Last year's harvest was so disastrous (2/3 of our crop rotted in the ground because of early season flooding) that I had to plant a lot of topsets last fall, just so I could get enough garlic in the ground. This year's crop was fabulous! And some of the topsets I planted last year grew into single bulbs that are so big that I think I may be able to break a garlic head size record next year! (Either that or I will break a record for the most swollen human head.)

We always put lots and lots of worm compost into the bottom of the trench, and mix it in with the soil in the trench before we plant the garlic. And we water our garlic religiously with worm juice. Garlic seems to really love worm compost and worm juice, because, flood-induced rotting aside, our garlic keeps exceedingly well. I've had garlic heads that were still in fine eating shape after being stored in paper bags in our study for TWO YEARS!

Here is a photo that shows the three stages of garlic planting:

1) A this year's top set, which, if planted this fall, will turn into a single bulb to be planted next fall

2) A single bulb that was planted from a single topset bulblet last fall.

3) A garlic head with large, choice cloves. I replant only the largest, juiciest garlic cloves, because they grow into the largest, juiciest garlic heads. Each single garlic clove takes one year to grow into a head of garlic.

Stages of Garlic


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Ellen Sandbeck
11/15/2012 1:57:25 PM
Hi Maridale! The flooding was pretty bad because our property is mostly flat and we got 8 inches of rain in 24 hours, so the raised beds would have had to be quite high in order to save the garlic. Our response was to dig trenches all the way around all our garlic beds, so now the beds are about 6 inches higher than they were, and the trenches drain the water away to a lower spot. We had a couple of Impressive deluges this past spring, and the new drainage system worked just fine-- this year's garlic crop was wonderful! I think I had only two rotten heads out of several hundred.

Maridale Moore
11/14/2012 11:05:17 PM
I wonder if you planted the garlic in raised beds might solve the rotting problem. I saw some online (Natural that were kits. Made of cedar and easy to assemble without tools. They have a lot of sizes and styles, even some with legs so they could be on a patio or off the ground. Just an idea!

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