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Garlic decisions

Sorry if this question comes across as a bit philistine. 

Is it worth buying specialist garlic cloves for planting, or will supermarket garlic heads do? I understand there're garlic connoisseurs that have their own special variety. Perhaps I should consider diseases in supermarket heads?

What are your thoughts? What do you do? 

I'm also hoping February is no too late to plant.
Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,913
    In my mind there are three things to consider

    1.  Garlic bought in supermarkets may well have been grown abroad in better/different conditions to those in the UK and may not do as well in the UK climate as varieties developed for the UK market, such as those sold by the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm  ... other suppliers are available but I've had good experience with these in the past. 

    2.  Different varieties are more suitable for planting at specific times of the year.  If you buy a named variety you'll know you're buying something suitable.

    3.  Supermarket garlic may carry virus/rust etc.  Garlic bought from specialist producers specifically for growing on should be virus free. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    I bought 2 varieties of garlic bulbs and planted them in individual cells and put them in a cold greenhouse a week ago  @Jenny_Aster. I aim to transplant them into beds when the roots are well formed and shoots are growing. Depending what the weather is like I might put a polythene cloche over them to give added protection but only because we can get late frosts up until late May/June up here. 

    To add that I haven't grown them in cells before so I'm hedging my bets. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • Thanks for replying @Dovefromabove and @Uff.

    In the past I've grown supermarket garlic, and you've raised good points for not doing so. Yesterday I purchased online 'Red Duke Wight Garlic', admittedly it was because of their 'red' colouring (I'm going in for bright colours this year, I've read they've got more antioxidants which isn't a bad thing).

    Great idea to bring them on individually, I'll probably copy you @Uff. Though I'm undecided whether to plant them amongst dahlias this year to deter blackfly, I might even plant some amongst my small plot of potatoes as they're good companion plants.

    I asked my question because I'm always thinking of ways to save a bob or two, where garlic is concerned I think it's best maybe not to cut corners.
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    In the past I've grown supermarket garlic and it hasn't done very well. I'm not sure if that was my fault or because it's usually grown in warmer climes that mine. 
    However, I'm trying to do it properly this year as an experiment. 
    Good luck with yours @Jenny_Aster I'd like to know how you get on with yours please. Both with growing and flavour.
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • Promise to keep you informed @Uff
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    Thank you, likewise with my experiment
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • Yes Pleeeese  :)
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,838
    I always buy garlic for planting as opposed to using SM garlic as it is certified virus free.  I usually plant mine in late November or thru December as the frosts help it form proper bulbs of multiple cloves but was prevented this winter by an inconvenient slipped cervical disk.

    I finally got mine planted in the last 2 days.    I've spaced the cloves further apart this year because last year's heatxwaves and droughts gave a poor crop compared to previous years.   That meant I had some leftover cloves once I'd filled the allotted space so I now have a window box and a pot planted with the remaining cloves.  They'll provide me with early, green stems to crop before the main crop matures - assuming all goes well.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • WhiterotWhiterot Posts: 42
    I grow around 200 garlic each year mainly from my own seed. This year my wife has set as I was in hospital around 60 Elephant, 80 plus Rhapsody white both from my own seed and then 40 odd Morado which I had purchased from an Organic company. I was disappointed with the size of the Morado cloves and she ended up discarding half of them. Remember the bigger the clove the bigger the garlic. Now back to the question I was shopping in Asda last week and noticed that the customer had bought 3 garlic bulbs which were the biggest that I have ever seen in a supermarket as they are normally tiny little things not worth considering. Taking on board my recent expensive experience with Morado bulbs I would be inclined to give these ones that I saw last week a go. I do not know what variety they were or what country they had been grown in but they were tinged with pink if that helps.
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,721
    About 8 years ago I bought 3 organic Danish garlic bulbs, no idea on the variety but they are a hardneck and have purple skin. I've grown them ever since I now plant about 300 per year from my own stock.
    If you buy British grown garlic you're going to be getting something that will manage in the climate.

    This year I planted about half in October and those are 4 inches high now, and the other half went in a week ago (because I am lazy) It will be interesting to see if the planting time makes any difference.
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