4/1/2017:

It's the beginning of April and we have beautiful sprouted garlic. Our Garlic sprouted in mid February and this Garlic has seen freezing rain, snow, and very cold temperatures. As you can see, there is some leaf damage from the cold but overall the Garlic plant looks like it's growing well. Since the garlic is protected by mulch, it is protected from our cold winters in Wisconsin. We have not seen Garlic sprout in mid February before so it raised a lot of concern to many garlic growers, but as you can see Garlic is a hardy plant and fares quite well.  To see garlic pics: https://www.facebook.com/keenegarlic/


2/24/2017:

​It's late February in Wisconsin and the Garlic has already sprouted! We usually don't see the garlic sprout until April. Although we are now seeing freezing rain, the Garlic still should produce into wonderful garlic bulbs, because the Garlic is protected by the mulch and it is also a very hardy plant



How much should I water before winter? The only watering I’ve done was to get the straw to settle down a little bit so it didn’t blow away.

In Wisconsin, we have never had to water garlic as we get perfect fall rains that seem to do that well.  Many of our customers are not that lucky and need to water.  It is hard for us to recommend water in regions we are unfamiliar with, but overall we would recommend getting about  1” of water a week for 2-4 weeks after planting or until it becomes too cold.    It is a good idea to get some water on the garlic after planting.  That is what our normal weather would do here.  We don’t want the garlic cloves saturated in water or get to dry.  It always helps to soak the cloves in liquid fertilizer before planting as the cloves will soak up some food before hibernating for the winter.  


Hi Keene Garlic, couple questions before we plant this week: How much water do we add to the baking soda and T fish emulsion for fertilizing?  Do we rinse with water after fertilizing and after alcohol soak? Do we soak in straight Vodka or do we dilute with water and if so what is the ratio? Thanks for your help! 

We would put the separated cloves in a bucket and cover with straight Vodka or Isopropyl alcohol.  Let soak for 10-15 minutes to sterilize the cloves. Drain. You can reuse the vodka until it appears to be diluted or dirty.  Then put the drained cloves (no need to rinse) into a 5 gallon bucket.  Fill with water to cover the cloves.  Add 1oz of liquid fertilizer and 1 oz of Baking soda.  Let the garlic soak up to from 1 hour to 12 hours. Drain the fertilizer onto your grass.  Then plant.

It does not have to be so precise, BUT we don’t want to burn the garlic with too much fertilizer which is why I say one ounce per bucket.  Each liquid fertilizer will have their own dilution instructions and that is what should be followed. 

If you are planting a small amount of garlic, see Martha Stewarts’ blog on how to soak the garlic cloves.

http://www.themarthablog.com/2015/03/planting-garlic-at-the-farm-2.html


​What happens if you soak the cloves in vodka and don't get them planted until the next day? Would you resoak in the Vodka? We have about 110 pounds left to plant.

No you don’t have to resoak the cloves in vodka.  It would be better to resoak them in the fertilizer, but get them planted as soon as you can after soaking.  It takes a bit of planning when doing to fish emulsion soak and planting, but once you get the process down, it is easy.


Will these hot temps damage hanging garlic drying? We are drying in ventilated steel shed and in Wisconsin.

​​Garlic in Wisconsin is actually used to curing in these hot temperatures. We just haven't seen this heat here for about four years, so this is new to some garlic growers.  The garlic will do well hanging in your ventilated barn.  Just make sure that your garlic has plenty of air flow and air can move around the garlic bulbs, so the bulbs should not be so tight together.  With this heat though, I would recommend keeping the garlic out of direct sunlight while curing. We also recommend having fans blowing on the garlic to keep the airflow moving. It seems garlic can withstand drying temperatures around 105 degrees and in the Cornell University Post Harvest Study they were going to try 110 degrees in shaded hoop houses.  We just have not seen 110 degree curing temperatures here in Wisconsin, so I don't want to comment on that. ​








​​When should I harvest my garlic?

One of the most asked questions and there are a few ways to determine when to harvest:

1) When there are 5 green leaves remaining.  Start at the top of the plant and count the leaves, after counting 5 green leaves all the rest of the leaves should of died off from the bottom.  

2) When 50% of the plant has died back and 50% of the garlic leaves have died off from the bottom.  This is a little hard to tell because the when the leaves die, we don't see any remains to determine 50%.

3) If you left any scapes on the plants, when the scape points straight up to the sky then it is time to harvest.

Things to watch for rain storms around harvest - too much water at harvest time can be detrimental to the garlic plant.   


Do I have to peel the wrappers around the cloves before planting?

No.  Very few of us do peel the wrappers due to the time commitment that it would take.  It is better if you can peel the wrappers around the clove because if any critters live in the garlic (which is natural) they would be reduced by removing the wrapper.  After soaking, many wrappers to come off naturally, so it is better if you can, but many of us get a great crop and don’t remove the clove wrappers.


Why can’t I find heirloom eating garlic in the winter or spring?

Most heirloom garlic from garlic farms sells out in the fall annually (or sooner) when garlic needs to be planted.  There is also not enough heirloom garlic supply in the US to cover the demand of consumers wanting locally grown garlic.  Also, understand the garlic throughout the US is harvested annually in July (give or take a month on each side depending on region), and that harvest supplies us the entire year.  Garlic will naturally start to deteriorate depending on a number of factors such as size, variety, and how it was stored.  Some garlic varieties start to deteriorate in October (especially rocamboles) while others will store longer until spring.  If you do have garlic that you want to store until spring, one of the best ways to extend its life is to put the garlic in a brown paper bag and store it in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer.  I have had garlic last until June if stored this way, but I will lose some along the way.

How do I extend the life of heirloom eating garlic?

Garlic is harvested annually in July (give or take a month on each side depending on region), and that harvest supplies us the entire year.  Garlic will naturally start to deteriorate depending on a number of factors such as size, variety, and how it was cured and stored.

Some garlic varieties start to deteriorate in October (especially rocamboles) while others will store longer until spring.  If you have Rocamboles, eat them first as they don’t store as long.  The garlic varieties that store from short to long: rocamboles, porcelains, asiatic, purple stripes, and softnecks, so eat in that order.

The size of the garlic will also determine the storage time even regardless of variety.  The larger the bulbs don’t store as long as the smaller bulbs.  That is another reason why the large bulbs should be planted in the fall while leaving the small and medium bulbs for eating.  So eat the larger bulbs first, saving the smallest bulbs for eating later.

Curing garlic has become an art!  Get a good cure depends on many factors that the consumer may not be aware of.  If you are curing your garlic, and want your garlic to last until spring, take all your smaller bulbs and bunch them together.  Make sure they are clean.  We recommend pulling the lowest green leaf off the garlic which will remove all the dirt around the bulb.  Make sure all the dirt is brushed off the roots.  Store the bunch of small garlic with at least 6 inches of the plant in your basement, pantry or where the garlic will get constant 60 degrees or less.  After Thanksgiving, cut the stem down to 3 inches and put the bulbs in a brown paper bag in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.  These bulbs should store the longest.

If you are receiving heirloom garlic and you want to store it as long as possible, put the garlic in a brown paper bag and put it in the crisper drawer.  As you head into spring, keep checking on the garlic to check for deterioration.  When they are not as firm, they are naturally starting to break down.  We never really know how long the bulb will last and some can keep going until spring, but when the bulbs are not as firm, start to use them up quickly.  

How can I preserve heirloom garlic?

Crush garlic in a food processor and put into small ice cube trays or small deli cups.  Remember, the garlic will smell up your freezer so cover them with a zip lock bag.

Crush garlic and put in olive oil and keep in the refrigerator.  Do not put whole cloves in the olive oil as someone somewhere has gotten botulism from doing this.  The garlic needs to be crushed.

Make garlic powder.  This will be the best garlic powder you have ever tasted!

Make compound butter with garlic and store in the freezer.

Pickle garlic.  Peel the cloves of the garlic without damaging or cutting into the clove and put all the cloves in a mason jar and fill with organic vinegar.  Different vinegars will result in a different flavor.  Store in the refrigerator. The garlic is remain crisp in the jar for years.   



What are the three harvests of a garlic crop?

All parts of the garlic plant edible and delicious at different stages of its life.

Ist harvest- the tender, young greens in May and June

Plant small whole bulbs or small cloves in the fall to be harvested in spring with other spring crops like spinach and asparagus. Spring garlic is great sautéed with other spring greens, added to salads, or added to meat for a garlic flavor.

2nd harvest- the scapes, from mid June to July

Scapes are commanding a nice price from restaurants, chefs, farmers markets and health food stores.  See our website for garlic scape pesto which is great to freeze for use all year.
These emerge out of the center of the plant and should be snapped off when edible when they have just curled.  If you wait too long, they become woody like a stick!

3rd harvest- the main crop of bulbs

These can be sold fresh and green at the market beginning in summer and the rest can be cured and used into early spring.


What happens if you soak the cloves in vodka and don't get them planted until the next day? Would you resoak in the Vodka? We have about 110 pounds left to plant.

No you don’t have to resoak the cloves in vodka.  It would be better to resoak them in the fertilizer, but get them planted as soon as you can after soaking.  It takes a bit of planning when doing to fish emulsion soak and planting, but once you get the process down, it is easy.

Garlic Questions and Answers


Please email us with any garlic questions you may have. We always like to help garlic growers have a successful crop, and here are some of the questions we have answered in the past that may help.  We will add to this as questions come in to us.