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I've started growing garlic each year, with the idea being I'd store most of it for seed the next year to gradually increase the amount I was growing.

Last year, I planted 100 cloves, and saved about 80 head of garlic in July when I harvested. I hung them in a shady, warm location for a week, and then put them in a bowl and forgot about them till October.

The skin of the cloves was still in pristine condition, but the actual clove has shrunk - I think it had dehydrated. I managed to salvage enough cloves to plant 100 again, but I'd like to avoid this set back again "Growing Great Garlic" but the author didn't really address the storage of garlic for seed.

Searching the internet hasn't really clarified the issue. Some people claim that you should store it in the fridge at a specific temperature and then state it will sprout at that same temp. The University of Georgia says commercially, garlic is stored at 0 Celsius and that home refrigerators are too warm. I've heard people say to store it in a damp terracotta bowl with a lid, but that seems to be a recipe for mold.

How do other people store their garlic?

On a side note, I let my garlic produce scapes, and I harvestedthe bulbils. They dried out fine and had no issue with dehydration, and I'm currently growing them to adjust the garlic to my micro climate..

  • My wife said she loved garlic and wanted it "everywhere". I took her word for it and let the scapes set seed and dry. One season of throwing the seeds around and sure enough it was everywhere. I can't get rid of it... You can plant the bulbils right away, or dry them and they will grow... – kevinsky Mar 14 '16 at 20:07
  • I'm curious whether you were growing hard neck or soft neck garlic? Also, what climate do you live in? I'm in the Great Lakes region, and handle my hard neck garlic almost exactly as you describe - I hang it in a shady spot for a couple weeks to dry, then remove the stalks and store the garlic in a colander in a kitchen cabinet. When it comes time to plant in late September/early October, I rarely come across a dried clove. The rest of the heads last through the winter, and I generally lose very few cloves. I'm just finishing the last of my garlic now. – michelle Mar 15 '16 at 13:23
  • @michelle - hard-neck, pacific north west. The relative humidity in our house is between 40 and 50% in the winter. – David Griffiths Mar 15 '16 at 21:00
  • @David - then the humidity levels we have our similar. – michelle Mar 16 '16 at 2:56
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One opinion here http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/garlic/save-garlic-next-year.htm

Proper storage is also crucial when saving garlic stock for planting. While garlic will keep for a short time at room temperatures of between 68-86 degrees F. (20-30 C.), the bulbs will begin to degrade, soften, and shrivel. For long term storage, garlic should be kept at temps between 30-32 degrees F. (-1 to 0 C.) in well ventilated containers and will keep for six to eight months.

If, however, the goal of storing garlic is strictly for planting, the bulbs should be stored at 50 degrees F. (10 C.) at a relative humidity of 65-70 percent. If the bulb is stored between 40-50 degrees F., (3-10 C.) it will easily break dormancy and result in side shoot sprouting (witches brooms) and premature maturation. Storage above 65 degrees F. (18 C.) results in late maturations and delayed sprouting

and slightly different here http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/6-ways-make-garlic-last-longer

Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity. This is what makes storing fresh garlic throughout the winter so hard: Heated winter homes tend to be very, very dry—so dry that garlic cloves will shrivel up and turn rock-like inside their papery skins after just a month or two (if that ever happens to yours, just toss 'em, skins and all, into your next batch of vegetable stock). One trick is to store garlic under an unglazed clay flowerpot in a cupboard, creating a small humidor without completely cutting off air circulation, which can lead to rot problems.

Clay flowerpots usually have a drainage hole which will give you that little bit of ventilation.

  • Thanks, I'd read both those links. The first one says, "bulbs should be stored at 50 degrees F." and then says, "if the bulb is stored between 40 and 50, it will easily break dormancy". Most fridges don't have temperature controls that allow that sort of precision. The Rodale link seemed to describe storing garlic for eating (and it's what I referenced in my question, about a terracotta pot), which is similar. But it would be sad to open the flower pot and discover everything had gone moldy. – David Griffiths Mar 15 '16 at 21:11
  • I presume that you're using the garlic regularly so should spot any mold setting in. As for the 10 degrees C storage of bulbs, it looks pretty tight. Maybe they mean 10-17 deg C? – Graham Chiu Mar 16 '16 at 3:43
  • Graham, the garlic is for seed, so I probably wouldn't be using it regularly. I suppose I could just replant it - I guess the benefit of keeping it out from July -> October is that you can grow one more crop in your garden.... – David Griffiths Apr 11 '16 at 19:44
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If your goal is for planting then treat the garlic as you would bulb flowers.

Dig them up in the fall, choose what you want to keep to eat vs. what you want to plant for next year. Make any soil amendments you want right away. Split the bulbs into individual cloves and plant them back in the soil. They'll grow new roots over the winter, develop some new cloves and sprout as soon as they are able in the spring.

By next fall they should be just as big with almost as many cloves as you got in the store.

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So it's been a few years, and the garlic grown last year was usable up till May/June.

I kept it in a card-board box in an insulated, but unheated, workshop (outside temperatures fluctuated from -5 Celsius to 20 Celsius).

The temperatures were moderate, but cool, and thus the humidity was good. The cardboard box also regulated moisture and temperatures. Garlic kept in a plastic mesh container did not do nearly as well....

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