I didn’t have a terrific crop of garlic this year and I’m not sure why. My shallots and onions turned out great, but despite planting some impressive sized cloves last fall, my garlic harvest was puny.
Can You Plant Grocery Store Garlic?
I always order so called “seed” garlic, if I don’t have any of my own to plant. Grocery store garlic is always said to be treated with a growth inhibitor, to prevent it from sprouting in the store. I’ve always questioned that, because I have purchased plenty of garlic that sprouted. Maybe it was organic and untreated?
Well, I’ve been doing some reading and poking around and found that this growth inhibitor, a hormone known as maleic hydrazide, or Royal MH-30, didn’t do a very good job of inhibiting garlic sprouting and is no longer widely used on it. It doesn’t even appear to be registered for use on garlic.
Which is a long way of saying, if you want to plant garlic from the grocery store, give it a try, it will probably sprout. However an additional problem for many of us is that most grocery store garlic bulbs are soft neck and they won’t survive in cold climates, so we’re back to buying seed garlic.
And Back to My Original Question – Do You Soak Garlic?
While looking around at the sites where gardeners were bragging about their fantastic garlic, I noticed that many of them recommended soaking their garlic in a variety of solutions, before planting. For instance:
After separating the cloves, they soak them overnight in a mixture of ½ gallon water, ½ tablespoon baking soda or vinegar, and ½ tablespoon liquid seaweed.
When they are done soaking in this brew, they are dunked in a cup or two of rubbing alcohol and soaked for an additional 5 minutes.
Then rinse the cloves and plant them immediately.
What do you think, does this make sense? I know the alcohol is supposed to kill any hitchhiking disease, but I would think it would cancel out the benefits of soaking the clove in seaweed.
All this soaking causes the skins to become loosened, which I’ve always heard was a bad thing. And the mixture is said to be a bit unpleasant to inhale, so one gardener recommended doing it outdoors. And another said they had better luck just treating the cloves gently and skipping the soaking. I’m all for less complicated, so unless someone can explain to me what the soaking works, I think I’ll skip it.
One last puzzling thing I learned about garlic. Many commercial producers bleach their garlic, to make it whiter and supposedly more attractive to consumers, like white flour and sugar. Commercial growers are required to wash off their garlic so no problems are spread in shipping and I can understand that. But I’m fine with beige food.