Dividing Garlic clumps


Trying to find time to split some of my clumps of garlic this fall. My general rule is I don’t dig it unless I can use it. As it is I have plenty and this clump has already went an extra year so I need to divide it before the snow blows and start a new row. Anyone else have this problem? My old patch was a 10’ area of nothing but garlic and I need to make sure I don’t let that happen again.

My Garlic

That’s an interesting approach to growing garlic. We pick all of ours in early summer and save the biggest heads to plant in fall. My leeks end up in clumps like that. Bulb division is a pretty cool thing. :slight_smile:


My family always grew garlic and we figured it will keep better in the ground than in the closet to replant later. We do that partially to not lose any growing time and partially because it allows us to grow very large quantities. We don’t have a large storage area. What’s divided and replanted in the fall can be harvested next summer. We try to only take what we need from the patch and leave the rest. Think of it like a garlic bank that we deposited and the interest is growing. We live off the garlic interest so to speak and never touch the principle. As the principle grows we pass the garlic on to family members. I think that concept probably came from the Native American side of the family though I’m not sure.


Interesting idea. Certainly worthy of a trial in my garden. Making a note to keep one or two in ground instead of harvesting in June to see what happens. Love garden experiments.
I’d be interested to see what that looks like when you pull it and clean it…if you could post a pic.


Does your ground freeze in the winter? If it does how do you get the garlic in the winter?
Edit:. I think I interpreted that wrong. I assume you pick what you need for consumption and leave the rest in the ground for next year. Does that give you larger cloves?


I plant a few square feet every fall well before the ground freezes, mulch fairly well with compost (several inches of straw is better but can get messy and ugly and the compost does provide nutrition and soil conditioning). I harvest most all of it every summer, but there’s always a couple of escapees. When they grow up the new heads are packed in tightly and are necessarily on the small side from being crowded.

But I read once of a guy who simply rototilled his garlic bed every year and harvested the ones that made it to the top, left the ones that didn’t!


That’s correct I harvest what I need earlier and leave the remainder. I can also harvest greens or bulbs later if I need them but typically don’t. It does give me huge cloves because if I divide it not only does it make bigger cloves it makes more of them. So let’s say the garlic clove produces 1 bulb by July and I leave mine growing by November I have 1 bulb plus a lot of extra small bulbs. The division may have something to do with the type of garlic I’m growing. Pictures tell a thousand words.


Awesome. Now is that bulb that you are holding in your hand in frames 4,9,&10 cloved or solid? I guess it doesn’t matter taste-wise. Just curious if the harvestable cloved head in June that is left in the ground develops such that each of the cloves enlarges to a solid head, which, when dug up and planted in fall results in a cloved head in June again. I like the idea of leaving the garlic in the ground, but I usually need the space. Do you know the variety?


I don’t know the variety but I guess it’s an elephant garlic. It was a gift from a farm family close to here. The bulbs can get close to fist size. It’s a solid bulb right now that by June or July will divide into cloves again.


From Wikipedia:
Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is a perennial plant belonging to the onion genus. It is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the garden leek.
Unlike many garlics, elephant garlic does not have to be harvested or divided each year, but can be ignored and left in the ground without much risk of rotting.

Garlic is Allium ativum.


That description makes a lot of sense for what I’m growing and how I’m growing it.


Once I finished dividing the elephant garlic into rows I started planting my music garlic. I did a small test crop of music about a week ago which is growing quickly. The weather has been maintaining highs in 60s-70s. Perfect weather for planting a lot of garlic! Rain on the way tommorow! There was some of the elephant garlic I did not divide that was in the existing row I will get to in June or July. Planting this garlic in my first garden on this property I made nearly 20 years ago. The soil is still very rich in this location.


Cool garlic pics! I put some garlic in the ground a few weeks ago and it is coming up!! It has been oddly warm here, what can I do to convince it to wait till march?


The cold weather is not really going to hurt it unless your in a really cold zone. The top dies back at 20 degrees. You can mulch it if you want to. The sooner it gets roots I feel better about it. Fall planted garlic is much larger than spring planted garlic. Glad to have all that elephant and music garlic planted! I’m going to plant red Russian and German hardy garlic next. This link is helpful when calculating needs http://www.2sistersgarlic.com/articles/how_much_garlic_should_I_buy.htm


I love growing and eating garlic. I maintain about 8 varieties and plant way too much so I won’t run out and have plenty to give away. I also plant lots in my orchard and let it perennialize as a pest deterrent (plum curculio, etc). Does it work? Too soon for me to tell, but it can’t hurt. I also have tons of chives, garlic chives and perennial onions in the orchard as they’re purported to be excellent companions for Rosaceae.


I saw a post somewhere where a guy put his bulbs in 1cm of water for a seven days prior to planting, topping off the water to 1 cm as they drank.
They began to sprout. So this year i took 40 of my 80 bulbs and did this. Planted one long parallel row of sprouted ones to another row planted dry.
Right now all sprouted bulbs are coming thru the straw mulch layer a few inches and the ‘dry’ ones are doing nothing. Interesting.


In my area, zone 5a, having fall planted garlic start growing above ground in the fall is not desired. You want the clove to start rooting but not waste it’s energy putting out leaves which will die later in the winter. Although in warmer climates or if you are growing in a GH I could see forcing them to sprout would have some advantages.


I purchased another 10 pounds of nematode free (tested at the University of Minnesota) GERMAN EXTRA HARDY CERTIFIED ORGANIC GARLIC that I will plant in the next week or so. There are plenty of good buys out there right now for frugal buyers like me. Lots of people are trying to move the last of their crop before the ground freezes. If your weather is holding relatively warm like mine is sellers want the business and $6.90 per pound is obtainable with free shipping. http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-lbs-GERMAN-EXTRA-HARDY-CERTIFIED-ORGANIC-GARLIC/142176774413. The seller I chose to purchase from has 100% positive feedback and a member since Feb 22, 2005. If I don’t get all the garlic in the ground before it freezes I will really enjoy eating what’s left! Hope you get a fantastic crop!


That sounds fun if you get a chance take some pictures for us sometime! Would love to see them!
That’s an interesting concept. Please let us know if the bulbs wind up larger when you harvest in July. My suspicion is those cloves will be 10% larger due to the extra growth If your climate is like I suspect.

Here are a few articles someone might enjoy on growing garlic




Mine just grows how it does there is not much slowing it down once it starts to grow. If it’s a warm winter our garlic will wind up huge! If it’s a cold winter our bulbs may wind up smaller than usual.