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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 28, 2015 2:20 PM CST
I bought some garlic the other day and a lot of the cloves were sprouting so I planted them in a pot. They are in a west window and are really growing. The green stem above ground is getting really tall. My question is can I cut this and use it to season food without hurting the bulb below ground? Or should I just let it continue to grow? I have only planted garlic in the garden once and it did not grow at all. Thanks.
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 28, 2015 3:30 PM CST
Jeanne, I have never started garlic inside, even in my greenhouses. Mine are all planted in mid-October to early-November in my raised garden or in large pots. I assume you divided the garlic into cloves and the cloves are what you planted, rather than the bulb. Right?

Garlic is like the vast majority of vegetables and needs direct sunlight to grow properly. You want those planted cloves to grow into bulbs and this growth is stimulated by the length of sunlight. I think by you growing it inside, or even if you planted it outside now, those cloves might grow larger, but I doubt you will get any bulb formation.

Keep in mind that the top growth is feeding the clove and without the top, green growth, the clove won't have the photosynthesized "food" to grow. So by cutting off the green stem/leaves, the cloves won't do anything. Being in moist soil, they would probably just rot.

If you want to (seriously) grow garlic there in Iowa, I would guess that you should plant your cloves outside in mid-September. I am guessing on that date. I want to plant mine approximately two months before we get into heavy winter weather.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 28, 2015 3:48 PM CST
I agree with Ken, Jeanne -- cutting the tops off will weaken the clove, but the green garlic does make an excellent addition to many dishes. I'm not actually sure your cloves will go too far toward growing into bulbs, being started inside at this time of year; you may want to try using some of them as the green garlic, and let some go to see how they do.

We are in approximately the same zone and I plant my garlic outdoors in mid September to mid October; it sprouts up early in the spring and is usually ready for me to harvest by the beginning of August.

This is what my garlic looked like on May 14th last year (and spring was very late in coming!)
Thumb of 2015-03-28/Weedwhacker/c53697

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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 28, 2015 4:19 PM CST
Thank you very much Ken and Sandy. That makes a lot of sense to me. I figured this was the wrong time of year but since they were sprouting, I decided to separate the cloves and plant them to see what they would do. I will not cut the green top and if they make it until the middle of April, I will just put them in the ground and see if they will come back the next year. I will also plant garlic this fall when it should be planted. Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it.
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 28, 2015 4:56 PM CST
I tip my hat to you.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 28, 2015 6:02 PM CST
Jeanne -- you are most welcome, and I've planted some garlic in the spring in the past (to fill in where a few of my fall-planted cloves didn't come up). They mostly just made what I can only call a large round "clove," and didn't divide up into the bulbs of multiple cloves... I actually kind of liked them! Possibly the ones you have started early indoors will behave more like "normal" garlic; please let us know how it works out Smiling
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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 28, 2015 8:31 PM CST
I will let you know how they turn out if this snow ever melts and the ground warms up so I can get them planted. Do you think they would do okay in a raised bed?
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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 28, 2015 8:32 PM CST
Thanks Sandy for the thumbs up.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 28, 2015 8:53 PM CST
Slightly off-topic;
We grow a plant called Garlic Chives/Allium tuberosum and the green part is what is used to season food; it adds a milder flavor than regular garlic.
The plants grow easily, spreading a bit more each year. They do make seeds to collect and share; or deadhead if you want to prevent self-seeding.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 28, 2015 9:15 PM CST
Greene, have you ever used the root parts of the garlic chives? I had a clump that was where I didn't want it and I didn't really have a place that I wanted to move it to so I just discarded it, but it seemed like it had some pretty nice roots, almost like green onions, on it. I have no idea why I didn't at least keep them to try...

Jeanne, they should do fine in a raised bed, although I've heard other people say that the bulbs seem to turn out smaller. I know exactly what you mean about the snow and the ground needing to warm up; I was thinking about covering my asparagus patch with some "floating row cover" to help it warm up a little quicker, but couldn't jab the "staples" into the ground yet Blinking March always makes me SO impatient!!
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 28, 2015 11:12 PM CST
Weedwhacker,
No I have not eaten the bulbs or roots, only the green tops and the unopened flowers. I also blanch/whiten the Garlic Chives to make them more tender.

This link says that... " The bulbs can also be harvested and used like garlic cloves".
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/extn_pub/veggie%20pubs...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2015 5:51 AM CST
Garlic chives can be eaten from its tiny bulb to its stalks to its flowers. They can easily be dug up, divided, and moved as well. In severe cold (below teens) they will die back, but all mine, as well as my Italian chives, come back in late winter. Thus all my plants, both Italian chives and garlic chives, are perennials.

If you grow the hardneck garlic varieties, they will grow stems with heads. You can either cut those stems off early, channeling all the energy into the forming bulb, or let it form a "seed-head". When those heads mature, about the same time that you'll dig up the bulbs, they will be loaded with tiny bulblets. You can eat those bulblets or plant them in late summer. When planted they will grow small stems, similar to the garlic chive and you can use those tops in your culinary dishes. Alternately you can just let them grow. Those stems will die back in the winter and they will only produce a small bulb the following spring/summer but if you leave them in the ground for another full year, you'll be able to harvest a normal size bulb the following spring/summer.

The softneck and Creole garlic varieties don't form that seed-head.
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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Mar 29, 2015 6:26 AM CST
Thank You! Sandy, Greene, and Ken, I do have the garlic chives plant. I have never used it for cooking but I take the seeds from it every fall. If anyone wants some seeds, let me know. I also have the onion chive plant and know that it could really spread so I don't let it go to seed. I have used the chives in cooking. I plant to sow some of the seeds that I have collected from the garlic chives so I have more of it. I love the seed heads that look like Allium. Thank you all for your great info.
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2015 6:36 AM CST
The onion chive is Italian chive and is not only used in cooking and salads, but is great on baked Idaho potatoes. All my chives are in pots, so I don't worry about them self-seeding. They can self-seed in their pots though. Hilarious!
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Mar 29, 2015 3:24 PM CST
Getting back to garlic, Jeanne, if you bought the bulbs at a regular grocery store, they would be a softneck garlic type. They usually don't grow well to produce bulbs in northern climates like Iowa (or here in Minnesota). But they do grow. It will be fun to just try them for fun in the garden, but don't expect much. Hardneck type garlics do very well in northern climates, but you will only find them for sale (for eating) at some coops or specialty stores, and they are usually labeled as hardneck garlic. Lots of good places to buy hardneck garlic types from "seed" companies like Territorial Seed or Irish Eyes. As was said, the time to plant garlic for production is in early fall. In Minneapolis, I plant the last week of September. But they will grow if you plant them in the spring.

Myself, I would find better use of the garlic you have now by eating the greens. They have a different mix of vitamins, antioxidants and other good stuffs than the bulbs, and impart a different nuance of flavor to your food. If onions I buy at the grocery store sprout, I see that as a plus, too, for the same reasons. On the other hand, testing and experimenting is half the fun, so do what you like!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 29, 2015 3:31 PM CST
Leftwood said:Getting back to garlic, Jeanne, if you bought the bulbs at a regular grocery store, they would be a softneck garlic type.


I would have said this same thing not too long ago... but then I recently was suprised to see hardneck garlic in our supermarket. (No idea where they got it from, though; but pretty doubtful that it was local.) And I've also always read/heard that the softneck types don't do well in the north, but I haven't had any trouble with growing them here (well, I've only tried Western Rose and Polish White, so I can't speak for all the different varieties). This year I'm trying a Creole type, Ajo Rojo -- can't always believe the "conventional wisdom," it seems Rolling my eyes.
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Mar 29, 2015 4:36 PM CST
Well I've only tried softnecks myself once, just to try it, with poor results, so I suppose that's not a good sampling. But other than better storage life, I haven't read of any other advantage to softnecks, so I've never bothered with them.

What is enticing about softnecks for you, Sandy? Maybe you like to braid them?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2015 5:10 PM CST
Sandy, let me know how your Creole does. Like all plants, some just don't do well in certain climates, but even in cold zones, there may be micro-climates that will allow many of the softnecks to grow. As the name indicates, Polish White came out of Poland and much of Poland certainly has cold winters. I lot of our softnecks originated from Asia and Eastern Europe and some of those grow fairly well in northern climates. Polish White is well-knows to do well in your zone. I have never heard of Western Rose, so I don't know where that one originated. Most of the softnecks originated from the Mediterranean region though and those varieties just won't do well in your area. Creole varieties originated from Spain, all of them as far as I know, and they simply are warm-growers. I have never heard of anyone even in zone 6 grow them successfully. But you may have the exception to the rule.

I grow a lot of garlic, hardneck, softneck, and Creole and there is a lot of differences in these garlics, not just storage. Did you know that garlic is even rated by "garlic-experts" in flavor and pungency, just like wine and cheeses are rated? Some garlics are even beautiful in color, ranging from pink, brown, red, burgundy, and of course white. To most, Creole has the most eye-appeal, surely stores the longest (how about one year or more!), has great flavor and pungency, and holds its flavor even when cooked.

I had planned on writing an article on garlic, not only about how to grow it, but its history, and the differences of each major category of garlic. I just never got around to doing it. *Blush*
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 29, 2015 6:20 PM CST
Leftwood said:What is enticing about softnecks for you, Sandy? Maybe you like to braid them?


Braiding was actually the reason that I first tried the softneck types... but I've never been entirely happy with my results, my bulbs never seem to clean up to where they look that great, and it seems like a lot of work for not that much reward. And I really prefer the hardnecks that I have, because they have just a few (4-6) nice big cloves, instead a bunch of irregular-sized, smaller cloves... and although softneck is supposed to store longer, my hardneck and softneck types are all beginning to sprout now, so I don't really see much advantage to it either.

Ken, I got the softnecks from Territorial Seed, and, having just looked at their website, I guess it's just "Polish softneck," not "Polish White." Not sure if those are the same or not... Western Rose is the right name though, but I don't know the history of it at all. Last spring, after one of our worst winters in recent memory, all the garlic I had planted came up, without a single "miss." I'm really looking forward to seeing if the Creole grows -- I have some planted inside the hoop house, and some out in the garden with the other types.
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Mar 29, 2015 8:19 PM CST

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I've found soft necks pretty easy to grow here in Nebraska. Really haven't noticed any difference in winter hardiness between the softneck and the hardneck varieties I've tried.

Friends who just planted garlic cloves from the grocery store were less than happy with their results, however. I suspect that the garlic we typically see in the grocery stores around here is from a handful of varieties grown in California and/or the Pacific Northwest. Given the nature of modern agriculture, it wouldn't be surprising if those varieties were highly productive under the right conditions, but not very adaptable.

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