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Hardneck Vs Softneck Garlic — The Grow Network Community
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hardneck Vs Softneck Garlic

greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭
edited September 2019 in Growing Food

Are you a fan of garlic?

If so, maybe you've decided to give it a try in your garden since most seed companies recommend it to be planted in the Fall of every year

But just so you are forewarned, since I didn't know the difference my first year I planted it, you must take in consideration what type of garlic you plant depending upon the normal weather conditions where you live.

This is very important. I'm not going to say it is impossible to grow one or the other out of its normal temperature requirements but I will say you stand a much better chance of getting a rewarding harvest if you do plant the right kind for your area.

So hardneck vs softneck... if you're unsure let me know and I'll give you the crash course for success!



  • bkpelfreybkpelfrey Posts: 23 ✭✭✭

    Please share your secret. I tried some garlic several years ago, not sure if it was soft or hardback but it did not do well. Thanks for your help.

  • lmrebertlmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball plz do share... I planted some and they never multiplied and grew a bulb out of the dirt... I’m so confused... then after I just took the weird thing from the dirt miraculously more sprouted out of nowhere ... 3 of them so I’m just gonna see how that ends up! Do share plz!!!!

  • teachercarynteachercaryn Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 220 ✭✭✭

    Please share your knowledge between hardneck vs softneck garlic. @greyfurball

  • teachercarynteachercaryn Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 220 ✭✭✭

    Hello! Wow! Fascinating information, thank you!

    By the way, at number 8. It states, “Water: for the first month give your bed at least 1" of winter per week...” I believe ‘winter’ meant to state ‘water.’

    Great, thanks for sharing! Smiles

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @teachercaryn , yes you are correct. I missed that when I double-checked my post before I submitted it.

    It's funny how we can read what we think we wrote instead of actually reading what we did put there. And since I have not found any way we can make corrections to these posts after the first hour, well I guess we are stuck with it the wrong way. Thanks

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    Great info here on this post! :) I have had a few different experiences myself though from what you recommend. I am in zone five and do plant my hardneck garlic in October for harvest the following summer, but my garlic is not ready until the middle of July - way too late for me to follow it with tomatoes. :( Do you think the benefits would still be there if I followed it with tomatoes the following year? My garlic harvest has been fantastic - my tomatoes not so much, so looking for anything to help them out! :) Also, I have found that if I wait until the entire garlic stalk is brown, my bulbs have already begun to separate - not so great for storage. I harvest mine when the bottom three leaves have totally died and shriveled - that seems to be the right indicator for me... I would also like to add a tip that I have found to be productive! Save the biggest bulbs you have harvested from your own garden for planting that fall - this will gradually acclimate your garlic to your specific growing conditions and help you get bigger and better harvests each year (not to mention save money!) Thank you for sharing all of your info :)

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 If your garlic harvest is usually that late then I have two suggestions.

    1. I don't ever harvest my garlic all at the same time. I just make a row when I plant it then make my next row farther apart because I know that's where I'm going to place my tomato plants next year. The transplant is usually only 6-10" high anyway so I can easily fit it in there. Then as the tomato grows my garlic is usually all harvest ready.
    2. OR you can do it this way. I sometimes plant my garlic in a large square pattern. I place one garlic bulb in a four corner square, making each bulb about 12" apart. Leave the center open with nothing because my tomato plant will go in there next year. Again, as it grows and needs more space, the garlic is being harvested anyway so it gets more space

    As for your comment would the nutrients still be in the soil the second year for tomato planting. My thoughts would be no because I am assuming you would be planting something in that soil when the garlic comes out so whatever that is it is going to absorb and use up those nutrients.

    And finally, what seems to be your tomato problem? Maybe we can help with that in this group also.

  • pamelamackenziepamelamackenzie Posts: 145 ✭✭✭

    I am thinking of buying local garlic at farmers market to plant. With local garlic and your crash course, I might have some luck.

  • amyjacobson6amyjacobson6 Posts: 17 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for sharing all the garlic growing tips! I have had difficulty growing garlic bulbs also. I can't wait to put these tips into practice!

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @amyjacobson6 If you have difficulty growing garlic before I would recommend you start with a good quality bulb thus good cloves and it will make it much easier.

    Grocery store cloves are sometimes so old because they've sat around who knows how long. Also before they even made it to the store they've been warehoused somewhere else and shipped in. All of this time spent sitting somewhere diminishes the quality of that "starter clove".

    Yes it's a little more expensive but you will have great starts and you'll never have to buy them again because you can keep reusing the cloves from the bulbs you just grew. So it's really a win-win all the way around.

  • wbt.affiliateswbt.affiliates Posts: 106 ✭✭✭

    I've used grocery store garlic with some success, but this article outshines anything I could have written about planting garlic. Thank you so much! Next year's garlic will be amazing!

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 519 ✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball Thank you for sharing. Last year I did a softneck garlic. I planted it in December (I typically plant earlier but I did not make an order until late November) and then harvested it in late July. I had a good harvest and plan to purchase more heirloom garlic to harvest next year.

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball thanks :) hadn't thought of using them like companion plants - I usually have my peppers, basil, and some marigolds in with my tomatoes, so maybe I will have to rethink that :) Do you happen to know what the benefit of using garlic with the tomatoes is specifically??? As for my tomatoes, they have been going down hill production-wise for a few years now and I am not sure why. I have tried different varieties, fertilization, compost, companions etc, but they still do not produce like I would like them too. Additionally, blight is a major problem where I live because of the humidity and neighbors gardens (I live in the suburbs) where they do not try to curb the disease. I have done EVERYTHING but still come down with the disease no matter what I do or use to prevent it. The plants live through (and this years have started to produce and grow again now that it seems to be past the peak spreading season here). I think I need to follow some of my own garlic advice and save seeds from tomatoes that appear to be more resistant and go from there. My husband and I are also looking at putting in a greenhouse and growing the tomatoes in there in 5 gallon jugs where we can replace the soil yearly. So frustrating when we really rely on our tomato crop for so much of our canning!

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 190 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball hey there, we grow wheat in the soon to be tomato bed. When it's time to plant tomatoes, we cut down the wheat (with a weed eater), leaving the wheat straw in place. Plant tomatoes. As it rains, the water won't splash back on to the tomato plants. If the wheat straw re-grows while the tomatoes are growing, we just weed eat it back down again. :) This has helped us tremendously.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 , since you say your tomatoes are slowly going downhill each year I have a few questions

    1. do you plant your tomatoes in the same place every year? If so, bad idea... if you don't know why tell me and I'll explain it.
    2. blight...is your problem early or late blight or even both? There is a few methods to help control this but never eliminate it if you live in the conditions which are blight positive. And it sounds like you have those detesting conditions.
    3. Growing in pots... if you don't have to I wouldn't. Even though some varieties will accept pot growing I have never seen any variety which will give you as big a harvest as what you can get when the plant is in the ground. And if you like heirloom varieties, I've never seen an heirloom yet which wants to be in a pot.
    4. And yes you are right. If you find a variety which does pretty good for you go ahead and save those seeds. As you grow them each year they will become more adjusted to your climate which helps them acclimate to your local diseases and pests.

    As for why garlic helps tomatoes the answer is simple. Many of the pests which like tomatoes do not like the onion or garlic family, the strong odors repel them. So you can eliminate a lot of your pest issues just by keeping the allium family near your tomatoes.

    And the other thing I can say is do you ever do a soil test? Even if you don't want to send a sample away you can do a real easy one right at home with stuff I'm sure you have in your kitchen. It won't tell you everything but it can help you some to make sure your tomato bed is on the right track.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @Hassena yes your description is the exact description of a cover crop. You are continually adding nutrition back into your soil by cutting it down and you've already figured out it helps you prevent disease because of no splashback. Great job!

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball yes, we do rotate - there are three years between crops of the same family in that bed and a full seven years before tomatoes are in there again. We also:

    Trim off the bottom foot and a half to two feet of leaves as the plants grow

    mulch and companion plant so there is no bare soil

    water via drip irrigation

    prune regularly for any leaves showing signs of disease

    add calcium and Epsom salts to the planting hole

    disinfect all tools and stakes that came in contact with infected plants

    bag infected plants so they are not added to our compost

    prune, plant, and tie up to allow good airflow between plants

    We grow organically so I do not want to resort to any chemicals. I can't think of anything else to do to help except to make sure that the leaves stay totally dry from rainfall so it will not have any place to take hold (hence the greenhouse idea). If we did invest in one though, I would hate if the disease did get in and my soil in the greenhouse also became infected, hence the buckets which I could refresh yearly... It is late blight (I am pretty sure) that is plaguing us....

    Like I said - kinda at my wits end lol!

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 yes you do have a very good schedule in place but as you said earlier you just happen to have the conditions which are ripe for fungal diseases. I also live in that type of climate. Wet humid Spring and early Summer months then immediately followed by dry spells with hot weather. It's a fungal disease heaven.

    So since I spent all my first years trying to figure out what I could do here is a few others that I have added to my tomato regimen. I do all you have above but I also added this:

    1. plant the plants farther away than recommended per package. Most of the time my plants are at least 24" apart on a staggered line (never all right beside each other in one line)
    2. prune up higher than the 1 1/2 feet. Don't just take the leaves, take the whole branch out. As the plant goes up, go up also with your pruning on the bottom. As long as there is no fruit buds on a branch take it out.
    3. same thing with your pruning in the middle of the plant. Keep checking each plant weekly and if there is no fruiting buds, get rid of that branch. Keep the plant open and as free of limbs as possible
    4. you mention drip irrigation but what about fertilization, pest and disease spray etc. - if you do any of that spray in the AM only after the dew has dried but before the sun gets too bright. I always spray every week a mixture of 1 tsp baking soda with a couple of drops of vegetable oil in a quart of warm water (not cold from the faucet). Alternatively I make a spray of 9 parts warm water to 1 part dry milk powder. I use one recipe the first week and the other the second week. Do it when no rain is forecast though or it's a waste of time. Start when the plants go in the ground and stop when you pull them out. Both of these mixtures help curb fungal diseases but if you skip a week you are asking for more trouble.
    5. Mulch... what type? I found I didn't like mulch under mine (unless you use organic straw). But I also have experimented and used plain newspaper (no colored dyes on the print). Cut a big square about 12"X12" and cut into the middle on one side. I make a few small slits in the center then I slide that paper in to the stem when I plant my bush. That covers the ground under the plant so there is no splashing. Water the paper so it stays down and I like that better than the straw. I didn't like when I used wood chip mulch or that kind because I can't tell for sure what's in it or on it.
    6. Your companion plants, are they under the tomatoes? If so move them out so they are between the tomatoes. Again keep the base of the plants clear so you can keep open good circulation.
    7. do you remove your suckers off the plants as they grow. If not, that helps.

    But just remember, even with these steps if the conditions are right for fungal disease you are probably going to see some. I was once told though it really doesn't matter if a tomato shows sign of a fungal disease because as long as you still get fruiting buds and there is at least some green foliage at the top of the plant, you will get a harvest. Last year and this year I took a couple of bushes and tried that. All of those bushes were 75% bare of foliage but I still got as good a harvest off them as any other bush.

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 287 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball thanks :) I will try staggering my lines and pruning even more selectively. I haven't sprayed with anything in the past since I want to stay organic, but I will try the mixture you suggest next year :) As for mulch, we do use organic straw or dried grass clippings from our own yard - companion plants are planted in between already as you suggest. May I ask what variety or varieties of tomatoes you have had luck with since you seem to be in a similar situation as me??? Thanks again :)

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 I am only a 4 year gardener so I am still working my way thru different varieties each year to find what I like. But here is what I know so far

    1.Brandywine - no way. It just can't cut the mix of solutions on anything I've tried

    2.All Beefsteaks, same problem

    3.Indeterminates I have found I either like the flavor and have done OK for me are Cherokee Purple/Black Krim/Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato/Italian Red Pear Tomato

    I have noticed the Russian tomato varieties do seem to hold up better to the fungal diseases. They have more resistance so their climate must be close to my conditions.

    There's a bunch of others I've tried but I wasn't impressed with their flavor.

    My best luck has been with Determinates though. To get an extended continuous harvest I have found that if I stagger my plantings about every two weeks I can get tomatoes consistently pretty much without any down time. You have to keep watch initially though what their anticipated maturity date is and then just plant them using that info. The ones I have found so far I really like are Chocolate Champion and Boronia

    Then I always plant one or two varieties of the paste tomato so I usually stay with San Marzano or Roma. DIdn't really like the Amish Paste when I did it.

    So yes, at the end of each season this can change a lot/a little. Just depends what I find works/doesn't work for me each year and what I really liked the flavor/texture of.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 190 ✭✭✭

    I may have missed this in the posting above. Has anyone used baking soda spray?

    I've used it on powdery mildew with success. It may work on tomato blight too.

    Our tomatoes don't get blight, however we do have plenty of stink bugs that ruin the fruit...

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @Hassena yes I did mention to chimboodle04 that I use a baking soda/vege oil/warm water spray one week and alternate the next week with dry milk powder and water. The combination back and forth has worked better for me.

  • kbmbillups1kbmbillups1 Posts: 339 ✭✭✭✭

    @Hassena We have stink bugs too! Someone told me to flick them into a cup of soapy water. I did this all summer long this year. It worked so well! They cannot get out of the soap suds and finally sink to the bottom.

  • KathyKathy ✭✭✭ Washington statePosts: 6 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball . I started some Amish paste tomatoes 5 years ago from two piddly plants. Each year, the plants from the seeds just got better and better. i guess they finally acclimated to my area ( zone 6 WA. state.) Anyway, I had to let my garden lie fallow this year due to low vitamin/mineral/nitrogen values. ( I did plant cover crops) I have kept the seeds in the fridge over the summer. Do you think the seeds will be OK to plant next year with same success rate? I hate to have built this tomato seed and plants up for 5 years only to lose them and have to start over. Thanks.

  • KathyKathy ✭✭✭ Washington statePosts: 6 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball I forgot to tell you Thanks for the great "article" on garlic. Here in WA, the hardneck variety seems to do best in my garden. Love the scapes!

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,217 ✭✭✭✭

    @Kath58 I would expect your refrigerated seeds to do fine when you plant them.

  • KathyKathy ✭✭✭ Washington statePosts: 6 ✭✭✭

    @shllnzl Thanks ! I really hope they do grow, but you give me hope !!

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 555 ✭✭✭✭

    @Kath58 tomato seeds are often good for about three years after you saved them. I've never refrigerated mine though since they work just as well as long as they are protected from light and humidity. The easiest way I have found is just pack them in a mason jar with a paper towel or some newspaper (no colored dyes - black and white only). Or if you have some of those dry packs (like you find in purses or shoes when you buy new ones) I keep all of them and reuse them for my gardening supplies. Works great.

    I'd just get your seeds out a couple of days before you wish to plant and make sure they are back to room temperatures and dry and I imagine it should work fine.

  • KathyKathy ✭✭✭ Washington statePosts: 6 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball Thank you so much ! I will get them into a jar and put in a dry pack. I have those. will make sure they are dry first.

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