Freezing garlic before planting is not a recommended practice. Unlike some other crops, garlic does not benefit from freezing before planting, and doing so can actually harm the cloves and reduce their ability to sprout and grow successfully.
Let’s explore why freezing garlic before planting is not advisable and how to prepare garlic for planting properly.
Why You Shouldn’t Freeze Garlic Before Planting
- Damage to Cloves: Freezing garlic cloves can cause cell damage due to the formation of ice crystals within the cloves. This damage can reduce the cloves’ viability and ability to sprout when planted.
- Loss of Natural Vigour: Garlic cloves are best planted when they are fresh and have not been exposed to freezing temperatures. Freezing can diminish the natural vigour of the cloves, leading to weaker and less productive garlic plants.
Proper Preparation for Planting Garlic
To ensure successful garlic planting and a healthy crop, follow these steps for proper garlic preparation:
- Select Quality Seed Garlic: Start with high-quality seed garlic from a reputable source. Choose large, healthy cloves and free from disease or damage.
- Prepare Cloves for Planting: Just before planting, carefully separate the cloves from the garlic bulb, leaving the papery skin on each clove. Do not remove the skin as it helps protect the cloves during planting and early growth.
- Plant at the Right Time: Garlic is typically planted in the autumn, preferably in October or November in the UK. Planting at the right time allows the cloves to establish roots before winter.
- Proper Planting Depth: Plant garlic cloves about 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart in rows, with rows spaced about 12 inches apart.
- Mulch: After planting, apply a layer of mulch to insulate the soil and help regulate temperature and moisture.
- Regular Care: Provide consistent moisture and remove any weeds that may compete with the garlic plants.
Growing Garlic and Ground Frost
Though it’s not recommended to freeze garlic before planting, natural frost in the growing cycle is a different matter.
Garlic is a unique crop in that it benefits from exposure to frost during its growing cycle, like tulips, particularly during the winter months.
Garlic is classified as a cold-hardy crop, and the exposure to frost serves as a crucial trigger for bulb formation. When garlic experiences a period of cold temperatures, it prompts the plant to divert its energy towards bulb development rather than continuing to produce foliage or leaves.
This physiological response results in the formation of the garlic bulb, with multiple cloves growing tightly packed together. The cold-induced dormancy and subsequent growth cycle contribute to garlic cloves’ characteristic flavour and texture. Therefore, a period of frost is tolerated and essential for cultivating flavourful garlic bulbs.
In summary, freezing garlic cloves before planting is not recommended and can harm the cloves’ viability. For the best results, obtain quality seed garlic, prepare the cloves just before planting, and follow proper planting and care techniques to ensure healthy garlic plants and a successful harvest.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!