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Soil for Onions and Garlic

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all: What do you feel are the proper soil conditions for onions and garlic - what's worked best for you. I've read that onions like both mildly acidic soil (pH 6.5) and slightly alkaline soil. Same for garlic bulbs.

 

Also, what worked best for you in terms of getting garlic bulbs to size up? (I'm zone 5.) I planted garlic this month (didn't have available space last fall), and I really, really want to ensure they grow well. I fertilize them once a week with fish emulsion. Anything else you'd recommend?

post #2 of 8

Alliums like fertile but well drained soil.  I don't tend to pay attention to the acidity because if the garden is well composted, rather than native soil, it will be close to neutral anyhow.  Mainly, onions and garlic do not like *competition*.  Garlic is easier in this way than onions and I, a lazy gardener, have never produced onions that were worth the effort and they are so cheap, I just buy them.  So, even watering (their roots are shallow, so deep watering isn't ideal) .

 

Re: fertilizer.  Hmmm.  We plant out our garlic in August to harvest the following year.  I'm not experienced enough to know whether spring planting gets you garlic bulbs in the late summer, but if they end up the same, I would let up on the fertilizing once they get full height at the latest.  Maybe someone else has more experience with this.  For garlic, snapping off the flower ends will get you the big bulbs.  I tried not doing it this year, just to see, and they were pretty diminished compared to the year before.  Snapping off garlic tops is something kids might enjoy, and they fetch top dollar at the farmer's market for stir fries.

 

Keep the patches well weeded (I need to say this because I don't keep anything well-weeded!).  Good luck!  Garlic is pretty easy, it's the onions I need to figure out. Maybe.  Real estate in the garden is at a premium, and I don't have time for prima donnas, if that's what they want to be.


Edited by SweetSilver - 5/17/12 at 7:47am

....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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post #3 of 8
How funny, this year is the first I'm trying out garlic and onions, both from starts, and the onions are doing great while the garlic is looking thin and weak. They're fairly close to each other too, so they're getting the same soil/water/sun.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Sweet Silver, for all the advice. I didn’t know that compost keeps the pH at neutral – I did put compost and manure in the beds so I should be all right.

 

Gryphon, this is my first year attempting spring-planted garlic (from the grocery store), and they’ve taken off. We’ve had some really great soaking rains over the past 2.5 weeks – one after I put the cloves in and then a few days ago, so I think that had a lot to do with it. I read that weekly fertilizing, actually nitrogen, is important to help the growth and garlic needs a richer soil – but then again I also read that garlic isn’t that fussy. Because of the conflicting info, I figured it’s better to get info from people who have good old-fashioned experience! I’m a garlic fiend, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to make them grow right.

post #5 of 8

I am new to galic but fall is the best time to plant. Like you I am trying some this spring. I am in zone 5 and planted it the 1st of April. It is doing very well planted about 4 inches apart.I bought them at a wally world and took the bag that had the most green tops showing.They say to never use the ones in the grocery store in my zone because they are from a warmer short growing zone and won't do well. I have experienced that with other plants and won't try again.I have about 45 that are between 12" and 16" tall.Thats my knowlege so far so hope others post their experience


Edited by rumdom - 5/18/12 at 6:05am
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

rumdom, what happened with the garlic you grew from the store-bought cloves? Were you able to grow any decent bulbs? (You’re scarin’ me …) I read in “Crockett’s Victory Garden” that he planted bulbs in May (Zone 5, Massachusetts) that he got from the market, and they did really well. He figured it was because the quality of his soil was so good. That’s why I was so daring in attempting a spring planting.

post #7 of 8

I tried it in the fall and it did not grow but not sure if it was my methods,the store garlic,or cold snowy winter. I read this afterwards and decided to not try them again. Had the problem with fruit trees that were from a different zone so I try to find things grown for my zone. You could always use those garlic you bought for cooking and buy a bag from garden store. I think a bag of them was about 3 or 4 dollars. If they take as they appear to I will save a lot of money after harvest

post #8 of 8

Ooooh, I just remembered something someone said about garlic: it loves agricultural sulfur.  I have not tried this, but just to share what I heard.

....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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