To add to the recent garlic posts, I thought I'd make my own.

I noticed that some store bought garlic was starting to sprout in the fridge, and so took some out to see if they might be viable for planting now that it's close to winter. Now, this garlic is imported from China, and is supposed to be fumigated and treated to prevent sprouting.

garlic bulb infested with aphids

but what I found when I split it open was that it was full of onion aphids. I'm guessing that some eggs were laid inside the bulb at some stage and then hatched after we bought them from the store.

So, my question is, what are the recommended cultural practices for planting garlic cloves that are bought, and how to prevent pests and diseases being imported into your garden?

  • 1
    Worth considering: the garlic may have been treated to inhibit sprouting, but even if it was, the chemical used is not permanent. Sprouting is not so much 'prevented' but rather 'delayed'.
    – GardenerJ
    Apr 25, 2016 at 3:07

1 Answer 1


I'd start with "consider the source" and leave this stuff at the store. Importing pests to the garden from doubtful seed sources is a learning experience you should not need to go through personally to learn from.

Either buy certified, inspected seed (cloves, of course, not actual seeds, but it's referred to as seed garlic in the trade), or get garlic from a reputable local grower (need not be certified, or even a farmer) - a gardener I know and trust gave me some of "grandma's garlic" that their family has been growing for at least 3 generations, from the garden right here. The less you know and trust, the more you need some sort of certification.

While some folks do seem to enjoy trying to make garlic from the grocery store shelves, it's a poor and dangerous seed source - poor because the varieties may be ill-suited for your local area, and dangerous since it's not held to the same standards that seed is.

  • I asked at the local organic store if they had any seed garlic, and they told me they just bunch up some of their organic garlic and sell it as seed garlic! Apr 25, 2016 at 3:41
  • ...and probably not imported from China, fumigated (not very well, or not on the day yours passed through the line) and treated. My local organic store deals with my local organic farmers for such stuff, though I prefer dealing with them directly for seed, when I have needed to (rarely.) Mostly I try to grow enough that I can pick out sufficient heads from the harvest to plant sufficient large cloves to make the next year's crop, and not import any new garlic most of the time.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 25, 2016 at 3:48
  • No, it's grown in Napier, 300 km north east of me. Quite a warmer climate to ours. Apr 25, 2016 at 3:53
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    So, back to local sources that are truly local (garden club or friends), or ordering from a seed company or garlic grower with better options for your local conditions. Or, at the worst, you can figure that 300 km is a lot closer than anywhere in China, so it's "more local" to you.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 25, 2016 at 4:04

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