A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

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Colin_M
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A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Colin_M » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:21 pm

Some of you may already be doing this - apologies if this is old news.

Many people buy their "seed" garlic from The Garlic Farm (IOW). They had a stall at the Really Wild show in St. Davids last weekend and we had a chat with them. Their suggestion was to incorporate some sand into the soil as one of the most reliable ways of getting larger garlic bulbs. The easiest way seems to pour some into the hole before planting each clove.

Whilst our soil doesn't get very waterlogged over winter, I'd not come across this suggestion before, so plan to give it a try this autumn. A quick Google shows that it's already widely used by other people (eg. here) with some also recommending it for onions.

I'd be interested to know:
    :?: If any of you are already doing this and whether you've seen much difference?
    :?: How this ties in with the need to ensure garlic doesn't get too dry during the Spring?
    Guess they'd just need regular monitoring & more water in that event??
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Johnboy » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:20 am

Hi Colin,
I have not come across the use of sand before in growing Galic and certainly I will try it on the basis 'if you do not try it then you are never going to know.'
What I would say is that it should not be builders sand, used for brick laying because this has a tendency to go solid and my suggestion is that sharp sand should be used because this has very fine grit content in it and therefore allows good drainage and does not bind up.
Did the IoW Garlic Farm give you any explanation as to why you should use sand? My thought is that it will prevent compaction and allow expansion but this is purely a thought.
JB.
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Colin_M » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:15 pm

Johnboy wrote:Did the IoW Garlic Farm give you any explanation as to why you should use sand?

Well, it was really as per the link I included above: "If you have a heavy clay soil, water logging is much more of a problem but just dib your hole a little deeper and put some grit and sand into the base of the hole. This will allow drainage and get your garlic through a wet winter"

Johnboy wrote:What I would say is that it should not be builders sand, used for brick laying because this has a tendency to go solid and my suggestion is that sharp sand should be used because this has very fine grit content in it and therefore allows good drainage and does not bind up.

Now you've got me worried! I bought a small "bag of sand" a while back - no idea what type it is, but was hoping I could just use that. Can you offer any advice on how I can tell (eg. what would tell me it wasn't fine enough)?

Being a luddite, my initial thought was that larger grit might be ok, since it should allow bigger gaps for the drainage? Obviously not as simple as that :(
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Johnboy » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:22 pm

Hi Colin,
There is virtually no grit in building sand and it has a clinging quality
whereas sharpsand is really all visible particles of grit in varying sizes.
This is what gives it such good drainage qualities. The grit is actually sharp in sharpsand and it is very open grained.
Horticultural Grit comes in three qualities Fine, Medium and Coarse with Fine particles are about 2mm with nothing smaller but with occasionally larger particles.
Quite difficult to put into words really.
JB.
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Colin_M » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:48 pm

Thanks JB
I will try it on the basis 'if you do not try it then you are never going to know.'

Yep, agreed. I'm going to put some in tomorrow with this method and try to leave a comparison row (without sand) to see what the difference is (if any).

In addition, I usually leave sowing till Oct, but am going to try starting some a little earlier this year. I will probably plant some more by October :)

Whilst we're discussing this, can you advise if there's any merit or drawback in planting Shallots at this time of year, or would you definitely leave them till the new year? I have a reasonable crop of Longor from 2010 and want to use some as sets (have previously always used up my crop so had to buy extra supplies for planting).
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Johnboy » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:50 am

Hi Colin,
This I like: "Yep, agreed. I'm going to put some in tomorrow with this method and try to leave a comparison row (without sand) to see what the difference is (if any)."
The reason I like what you are going to do is because you are employing a comparison which means that it is a true experiment. So many things like planting by the moon are never true experiments because there is never any comparison. Because you plant a seed at the so called specified time on the moon chart (?) and it germinates it is always put down to the phase of the moon. Sadly it never seems to occur to these people that what seeds do is germinate! End of mini rant!
Best of luck in your endeavours.
JB.
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Re: A suggestion for getting larger Garlic bulbs

Postby Colin_M » Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:14 am

Cheers JB - we'll have to wait till Spring to get the answers on the garlic.

In the meantime, I've read a bit about planting by the moon in the past. Additionally, I'm sure one of the TV gardening programmes covered it with actual practical experiments sometime in the past couple of years. They did demonstrate some differences and it seemed reasonable, but whether they'd survive detailed scientific scrutiny is of course open to discussion.

Can't help wondering if you need two different planets (one with, one without a moon) to fully explore this :twisted:

In the meantime, a science degree some 30 years ago means I usually curious about the reasons for things happening. However provided we're getting optimum results, I'm now also happy to follow what works even if I don't always understand exactly why...
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