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Prechilling garlic to force early growth

Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:56 pm
by hendi_alex
This is a repost from another garlic thread, but wanted to move it here so that the topic is more focused and consolidated.

"I've read several places that refrigerating garlic will stimulate it to sprout. When planted in October or November in S.C. the garlic just sits in the ground until the cool temperatures cause the cloves to sprout. I don't see why forcing the cloves in the refrigerator would not work, but will post an update in September or October and let everyone know how this works out."

posted in August:

original thread:

Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:03 pm
by hendi_alex
O.K., I refrigerated some large cloves from mid August until mid September. The cloves were planted around 9/17. They sprouted almost immediately, and are now up to seven inches tall. Last year my cloves were planted in mid October and didn't break gound until mid November. I would rate this experiment as a success so far, as the garlic will have at least a month of extra growth because of the chilling period in the refrigerator which allowed for early planting and for sprouts quickly breaking the surface.



Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 5:53 am
by Diane
What will happen when you have a frost? I didn't realize that they will sprout before spring.

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:48 pm
by hendi_alex
Here in S.C., even when planted in October, the garlic sprouts and begins to grow until cold temperatures and frost slow them down. Frost only causes superficial damage to garlic. I believe that the early start will just give the plant more growing time between now and late spring/early summer when the mature bulbs are harvested. Here is what says about planting time and overwintering garlic plants.

"When to plant? The fall is best. Remember garlic is a bulb (like tulips and daffodils). Plant 4 to 6 weeks before significant ground freezing may occur. On the High Plains, we like to get going by mid-September, since snow by the end of September is not at all that rare here. Further east and south, late September and into October will generally do. The idea is to get the cloves in the ground during warm weather so germination occurs and good root formation follows. It is good sign when you get green shoots popping above the soil in late autumn. Don't worry. The tips may suffer a little winter burn, but they can tolerate zero and below. Studies have actually shown that some garlic leaves actually grow ever so slightly on sunny days with temperature is below freezing."

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:52 am
by Diane
Great. I wondered because it freezes here and I wasn't sure if I should plant now or later.

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:45 pm
by kgall
I planted garlic last week. It is the first time I have done it and I did refrigerate it first, and it sprouted in there. I hope it works out!

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:01 pm
by hendi_alex
I just makes sense to me, that as soon as the temperatures are cool enough in the fall for garlic to grow vigorously, that it is best for the garlic to hit the ground ready to grow. The pre-chilled cloves start growing and forming roots almost immediately. This strategy will give the plants a longer growing season from now until maturity, and that should promote the formation of larger bulbs for harvest. Like I said, I'm planting some cloves in October in a traditional way with no pre-chilling and will compare the results to the plants that were chilled.

Very interesting

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:46 pm
by promethean_spark
I had the same idea and found this thread googling 'forcing garlic'.

I'm in a relatively warm area and artichoke garlic grows great for me, but hardneck garlics tend to be much later and suffer from the heat at the end of their season in July. Here softnecks come up in Oct/Nov and hardnecks come up in Jan-March. I'm hoping that forcing the hardnecks to come up in the fall will allow them to finish in May or June like the artichokes.

Another thing to try would be forcing garlic bulbils. Giving a bulbil an extra several months of growth may allow a large one to make a small head in the first year, or a small one to make a larger single bulb that would make a head in the following year.