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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Garlic help Toplef10Garlic help 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Garlic help I22gcj10Garlic help 14dhcg10

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Garlic help

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goodtogrow
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Post  goodtogrow 4/26/2022, 9:45 pm

Before I'd even heard of SFG, I planted 9 cloves of hardneck Red Russian garlic in mid-November of 2021.  The container is about 14" across and about as deep.  I used potting mix (not potting soil), in the hopes that it would drain better.  I am not convinced it actually does.  It still stays rather wet even after a few days.  I mixed in layers of worm castings, glacial rock dust (for the minerals), and "fruit & berry" fertilizer (a mistake as it is too high in Phosphorous with very low Nitrogen), but no compost, because I didn't know the value of it.  Told you I'm a newbie.

This spring, it has been growing fairly well, and I've since added worm castings and blood meal on the surface a few times - the blood meal to compensate for the lack of nitrogen in the initial fertilizer I added, so it can all wash down into the soil.  I plan on using a worm casting tea in the next few days.

The problem is that it is a bit wilted, floppy, soft, and not as green as it should be.  Yellowing on the ends and in the middle of the leaves to the stalk in some cases.  I've heard that roots can get waterlogged and not take up enough oxygen which could cause yellowing.  The plants just don't seem terribly strong or healthy.  Granted, it is still fairly early as far as sun goes - we aren't getting a ton of it yet, but I still think it is something to do with the what I did or didn't do (lack of compost?).  I can see what appears to be a little bit of salt buildup on the surface of the soil now, as well, which I'm guessing is from the blood meal I've used?

I chalk it up to not knowing enough about how to prepare soil, especially in a rather wet climate, but I'm curious if anyone has any feedback or ideas as to what I might be able to do to help these plants.  I don't think they're a lost cause, and it may just take more heat and sun to help them, but I just wanted to ask.

Thanks.
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Post  Scorpio Rising 4/26/2022, 10:59 pm

First off—hi and welcome!

I think your garlic looks fine—especially for container grown.  My one and only attempt there ended up a bust—just too much freezing/thawing/freezing/thawing. You get the drift.  I have successfully grown garlic in my beds for 7 years and love it.  I have always grown German Hardy, and have also grown Music and Georgian Fire—all lovely!

Give it a minute to see what is ahead—I would do nothing.  Watch and wait, garlic is pretty tough!
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Post  goodtogrow 4/27/2022, 12:46 am

Hi there.  Well that is encouraging, thank you.

The leaves are just a bit weak, I guess.  That's my main concern.  And the yellowing on the tips and in the centres of the leaves up to the stalk, looks like a stripe.

What would you recommend with watering?  I try to water minimally since it just seems to saturate the pot so much and stay wet for what seems like ages.  So I'll put it undercover for 4-5 days to let it dry out.  Those pictures are from after about 4-5 days of not having watered it.  I just can't seem to tell what helps it or hurts it.
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Post  sanderson 4/27/2022, 4:28 am

GTG,  If this is your first time growing garlic, it looks pretty good.  Even if it doesn't pan out like you see in glossy gardening magazines, don't worry.  You will learn so much your first 12 months of gardening.  This October, when you plant in Mel's Mix and mulch for their winter sleep, you will have even more success.

First harvest of grocery CA soft neck on July 9, 2013.  Planted in late March. Garlic help Garlic20

Nine years later: April 13, 2022 Harvest.  Planted mid October and grew unusually fast and large due to the warm winter.
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Post  goodtogrow 4/27/2022, 7:02 pm

Very nice garlic!  Thanks, Sanderson, I appreciate the encouragement, as well.  I can only imagine how much better things would be with compost in there - now that I understand soil a bit more.

Well, you're both probably right.  I'll just continue on with it.  I'll continue watering a couple times a week, 1" or so total, and try out some worm casting tea in the next few days and hope for the best.

It's amazing how much I've been learning about gardening, and it definitely is a hands-on type of learning, which is really enjoyable.  Looking forward to seeing how they do.  Thanks again to both of you.
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Post  sanderson 4/28/2022, 5:32 pm

goodtogrow wrote:. . . It's amazing how much I've been learning about gardening, and it definitely is a hands-on type of learning, which is really enjoyable.  . . .
Very true

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Post  GWA53 5/7/2022, 1:27 pm

One suggestion next year would be to give the bulbs about 6" space on all sides to help produce bigger cloves.
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Post  OhioGardener 5/7/2022, 5:06 pm

GWA53 wrote:One suggestion next year would be to give the bulbs about 6" space on all sides to help produce bigger cloves.
 
I normally plant garlic at 9 per square, and they grow large with that spacing. Some varieties might require 4 per square, but I've had good success with 9 per square.

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Post  sanderson 5/7/2022, 6:26 pm

I also plant with the spacing of 9/sq ft.

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Post  goodtogrow 5/21/2022, 5:39 pm

Well, I did a pH test with one of those kits and it shows that the soil is a solid 5 (or even less).

I tested the soil like they recommend, digging down about 3".

The plants have been floppy and limp, with some even breaking where they flop over now.

From my research, garlic likes acidic to neutral soil pH (6.0 to 7.0), ideally around 6.2-6.5.

What would be the easiest way to increase soil pH in a container?
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Post  OhioGardener 5/21/2022, 6:02 pm

goodtogrow wrote:What would be the easiest way to increase soil pH in a container?

Let the compost mature.    As compost matures, it tends toward a neutral pH.

Other than that, if there isn't time for compost to adjust itself, you can add Dolomitic limestone.  But, that is not recommended with good quality compost in Mel's Mix. 

Side note:  Low or High pH will almost never cause "floppy and limp" plants. That will be caused by a nutrient imbalance - or locked up nutrients - or low moisture at the root level.  For example applying too much Phosphorous will cause calcium to be locked up and unavailable to plants.  Likewise, too much potassium in the soil will prevent plants from absorbing nitrogen.  Fertilizing plants instead of feeding the soil so that the soil can feed the plants leads to these types of problems.

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Post  goodtogrow 5/21/2022, 7:21 pm

Thanks, OG.  Although, this was before I'd heard of SFG and is just regular soil with some worm castings added in layers.  No compost, unfortunately.  It's also had blood meal and more worm castings added as a side dressing a few times over the past 6 months.  I've also noticed what looks like some "salt residue" at the drainage holes at the bottom, as well, likely from when I used some fertilizer (wasn't even the right kind).  I wonder if the blood meal can leave that type of residue, as well?

I was meaning they were floppy and limp due to the way low pH can mess up certain nutrient absorption, yes.

For now I guess I'll try some dolomitic lime as a side dressing.
I read that baking soda can do the same thing, although more for short-term adjustments?  Any thoughts on that?

Besides trial and error, do you have any idea how much lime I should use on a 14"x12" container?  Ideally I'd like to raise the pH to around 6.5 (up from 5 pH).
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Post  Soose 5/22/2022, 6:50 am

GoodtoGrow, for that size bin, why don't you just pull the garlic, and replace the soil mix with new Mel's Mix?

(You know for sure I have no experience, just theorizing a solution.  It seems impossible to me to get the right
soil and fertilizer or amendment mix.  It's one of the issues that seemed difficult to me with other methods of
gardening.  I'm hoping so much that our compost is good enough both this year and in future to keep the plants going.)
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Post  goodtogrow 5/22/2022, 12:43 pm

Thanks, Soose.  That's certainly something to consider.  Although, I actually just found out about using baking soda to raise the pH.  Since we had some handy, we put 2 quarts of water with 2 tbsp baking soda mixed in on it in order to raise the pH.  I'll check it in a few days and see.  Maybe re-potting will be the only way, though.
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Post  Soose 5/22/2022, 12:51 pm

It'll be a learning experience to see if baking soda will work.  Staying tuned...
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Post  sanderson 5/26/2022, 4:20 am

The great thing about Mel's Mix made by the formula is that we don't have to worry about pH. Trying to raise or lower pH can often go too far and then the opposite ingredient has to be added, and it becomes a crazy circle.

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