Planting garlic from store-bought bulbs is possible, but it’s important to consider a few factors to increase your chances of success. While garlic from the store can be used for planting, there are some caveats to keep in mind:
1. Garlic Varieties and Treatments
Grocery Store Garlic Varieties: Garlic bulbs in grocery stores are often not labelled with specific varieties. They may be softneck or hardneck garlic, but the exact variety is usually unknown.
Treatment with Growth Inhibitors: Some garlic sold in stores may be treated with growth inhibitors to prevent sprouting. This treatment can hinder the garlic’s ability to grow when planted.
If you are serious about growing garlic, I recommend buying a dedicated growing variety to plant in Autumn for Spring. If you want to just toss a few cloves into a pot and see what happens, here’s a few tips for you:
Steps for Planting Store-Bought Garlic
If you’d like to try planting garlic from store-bought bulbs, follow these steps:
- Select Bulbs: Choose the largest, healthiest garlic bulbs you can find in the store. Avoid bulbs that are soft, mouldy, or have visible signs of damage or disease.
- Prepare Cloves: Carefully separate the cloves from the bulb, keeping the papery skin intact on each clove. Do not remove the skin, as it helps protect the clove during planting and growth.
- Perform a “Water Test”: Place a few cloves in a cup of water to check if the cloves have been treated with growth inhibitors. If they sprout within a few days, they are likely viable for planting. If they do not sprout after a few weeks, they may have been treated and not grow well.
- Plant in the Fall: Garlic is typically planted in the autumn, preferably in October or November in the UK. Plant the 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.
- Keep in mind that store-bought garlic may not yield the same results as garlic obtained from a reputable seed garlic supplier, which offers specific garlic varieties adapted to local conditions and untreated cloves.
- While planting store-bought garlic is an option, if you intend to grow garlic regularly, it’s advisable to source garlic from a reputable seed supplier for consistent results and the best varieties for your region.
Planting garlic from store-bought bulbs can be a fun experiment, and you may have some success, especially if the cloves haven’t been treated with growth inhibitors. However, for the most reliable and robust garlic crops, it’s recommended to obtain garlic cloves from reputable seed suppliers that offer specific varieties suited to your local climate and growing conditions.
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!