Garlic is one of the most famous vegetables used in almost every cuisine. These are easy to grow with adequate sun, warmth, and the right soil. But they do need proper storage and saving before planting.
You can save garlic for planting either by harvest or from store-bought bulbs. Store the cloves in a dark and dry place with cool temperatures and average humidity levels. Using a mesh bag or cotton cloth bag with breathable material keeps the cloves fresh for a long period.
There are many factors to consider while saving the garlic for planting. Saving for the next planting is equally important as other requirements. Read this article till the end to know everything.
How to store garlic for planting?
You can save both store-bought and own harvested garlic bulbs for planting in the present and next years, respectively.
Saving the bulbs for planting encourages healthy and big bulbs.
For saving the garlic bulbs for planting, there are 7 simple steps.
Let’s have a look.
1. Cure the bulbs before saving them.
If you want to prepare your freshly harvested bulbs for planting next year, you must cure them.
Please keep them in a place with proper shade and airflow.
Either spread them out on a wire rack, or you can hang them by stems.
Let them cure for about 2-3 weeks.
When the bulbs cure, you will find that the neck will tighten, and the outer skins will be dry.
Check for signs of damage before planting.
Whether you buy the bulbs to plant or store them for harvest, check them closely to watch for signs of damage.
A healthy bulb has good cloves that can produce big and healthy garlic.
It should not have any bruises, cuts, or erosions.
If the bulbs show damage, don’t use them for planting, as they will begin to rot faster.
The infection will spread to the good bulbs as well.
2. Choose bigger cloves for planting.
When preparing the bulbs for planting, choose the ones with some bigger cloves.
The big cloves have higher chances of producing bigger and healthier bulbs.
3. Don’t divide the cloves right after harvest or a long time before planting.
First, you need to store them and then divide them before planting.
It will keep the bulb intact and prevent the cloves from being damaged.
Also read: When Is Garlic Ready To Harvest? (+How To)
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4. Store them in well-ventilated containers.
Keep the bulbs aside for planting and store them in well-ventilated containers.
You can try mesh bags, wood crates, or cardboard boxes.
Avoid using plastic materials as they rarely have proper airflow.
Also, avoid air-tight containers like jars.
Without proper storage, the bulbs may develop mold and result in rotting.
5. Maintain an ideal temperature.
To prepare the garlic cloves for planting, you need to store them in a temperature range of about 30°F.
This cold temperature will keep the garlic dormant until it is time for fall planting.
If you wish to store them for later use, you can store them at temperatures around 30-50°F.
For long-term storage, the best temperature is around 30-32°F.
A garage is a good place, provided the place doesn’t receive any sunlight.
Storage only for planting purposes requires a temperature range of 50°F.
It causes early dormancy break, easy sprouting, and timely or premature maturation.
Generally, garlic plants will need temperatures ranging between 68-86°F.
But, using this temperature during storage will result in delayed sprouting and maturation, soft, withered, and rotten bulbs.
Even if you buy the bulbs for planting, you still need to store them before planting.
Also read: Garlic Plant Temperature Tolerance: Ideal Temperature+Extreme
6. Keep the humidity ideal, neither too high nor too low.
To save the garlic for planting, maintain average humidity during storage.
Maintain at least 65-70% humidity levels with a cold temperature.
A bit lower will also be good.
Low or average humidity levels keep the bulbs from rotting and forming molds.
Healthy plants will come from well-stored bulbs.
So, take your time to save the bulbs well and prepare for the fall planting.
7. Keep the garlic away from sunlight before planting.
When you store the garlic bulbs for planting, keep them out of the sunlight’s reach.
Garlic plants require lots of sunlight and warmth, but garlic bulbs are vulnerable to direct sunlight.
After harvest, the bulbs will require a cool, dry, and dark location for cure and storage.
Also read: When To Plant Garlic Bulbs? (+Seasonal Guide)
For how long can you save and store the bulbs for planting?
You can save garlic and keep them in good condition for nearly 9 months if stored well.
They stay in their best condition for the first 5 months.
For example, if harvest occurs in June through August, you can save the cloves and plant them from September to November.
But if the storage is not properly performed, the garlic will become rotten and moldy within 5 months of storage.
Check their condition every few weeks to ensure they are well and good.
If you ever find any bad bulbs, remove them immediately and continue checking on the other bulbs to see whether the good ones got affected or not.
If you have already broken the garlic bulbs, you should use them soon.
Unbroken bulbs can be stored for 8 weeks or even more.
But, if the bulbs are broken, their shelf life reduces to 3-10 days.
Can you store the bulbs in the refrigerator for planting?
You can store the bulbs in the fridge for planting for up to three weeks.
It helps the garlic to start its vernalization process.
This fridge storage is only possible if your regions don’t get the adequate temperature required for vernalization.
Garlic cloves will need exposure to cold temperatures around 40°F.
It triggers bulb development.
Without vernalization, the garlic cloves will not become big or won’t stay intact.
The cloves will split up into pieces.
With vernalization, the bulbs will be intact, big, and full of big separate cloves.
However, you can skip this refrigerator storage if you store the bulbs in the recommended 30°F, along with dark and dry surroundings.
Should I store garlic in sealed containers?
Storing the garlic bulbs in sealed containers will only result in molded and rotted bulbs.
So, never store garlic in such containers.
Sealed containers don’t let the air enter.
The bulbs get suffocated, increase humidity, and start sweating.
Over time, the bulbs will start rotting due to the excessive moisture and suffocation and develop molds.
You can skip the containers.
Use the stems to create braids, and add the garlic cloves together.
Now, hang the braided garlic in a dry, cool, and dark place with proper air circulation.
Does garlic need soaking before planting?
Though soaking is not an essential step, it helps to prevent pest attacks and fungus infections.
It even kills pathogens if the seeds or the bulbs are pre-infected.
Sometimes, the seeds carry pathogens of white rot.
Soaking can kill them and prevent the disease from occurring.
Allowing the garlic cloves to soak before planting is a kind of vaccination for fungal diseases and pests and gives them the energy to start the development process.
The cloves are soaked in water, organic fish fertilizer, and baking soda.
It is further followed by hydrogen peroxide, sterilizing the cloves to remove the mites which might be hiding.
How to soak garlic?
Take one-quarter of lukewarm water and one tablespoon of fish fertilizer and baking soda each.
Mix them well and soak the cloves for 15 minutes.
After draining, soak the cloves in 70% isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or vodka.
Drain after 20 minutes.
Plant the cloves within one hour of the second soak.
You should soak the cloves for not more than 30 minutes before planting.
How to plant garlic?
Planting garlic is very easy.
Once you know the right steps, you can easily do it, even if you are a beginner.
Choose garlic according to your zone:
- Hardneck varieties are native to colder zones.
- Softneck varieties are native to the warmer zones.
It would be best if you always plant garlic in the fall.
However, you can plant them in other seasons.
Still, fall planting results in better garlic bulb production in the spring and summer.
The bulbs need a winter period to trigger the bulb development.
The winter garlic receives after the fall encourages root growth and triggers bulb development.
This cold weather helps in vernalization and triggers germination in the garlic seeds.
Without this cold weather, your garlic won’t sprout out.
The bulbs or seeds should receive at least 30-40°F temperature for 40 days.
Only then their growth and germination will get triggered.
7 simple steps to plant garlic:
- First, plant the timing to plant garlic. It should be 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes.
- Prepare your garlic by storing and soaking.
- Prepare the soil bed. Loosen at least 6-8 inches of the topsoil and mix some compost, manure, and fertilizer. Test your soil before preparation. Make sure that the pH level stays within 6-7.
- Before planting the cloves, break the garlic heads to separate the cloves. Choose the biggest cloves for planting to get bigger and healthier bulbs.
- Plant the cloves 2-4 inches deep. Plant Hardneck varieties 4-6 inches apart and Softneck varieties 6-8 inches apart. Place the pointy end upwards and the flat end into the soil.
- Water the soil well and cover the bed with 4-6 inches of straw as mulch. As the temperature will begin within a few weeks and the ground will freeze, this mulch will keep the bed warm and save the cloves from harsh frost.
- Next spring and summer, keep the planting site weeded and watered.
Also read: How Deep And Far Apart Do You Plant Garlic?
Saving garlic for planting is very easy. You can either grow garlic by buying the bulbs from the stores or plant the cloves from your own harvested garlic.
Store garlic at 30°F in a well-ventilated container. Maintain a humidity level of around 65-70%. The place where you keep them for storage should be dry, cool, and dark.
If you want to save your harvested garlic, cure the bulbs before storing. If your area doesn’t receive adequate cold in winter, which the garlic cloves or seeds need, you can store the cloves in the refrigerator for around 3 weeks.
For better results, proper saving and storing are necessary. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get better bulbs.
Reference: The Pennsylvania State University, Garlic Production for the Gardener, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ohio State University Extension.