Purple Garlic is a fairly simple crop to grow. Planting is easy, and the garlic itself requires very little maintenance. In a soil that retains a minimum of water and that is alive, you will not have much to do: plant in the fall or in the spring, and come and harvest in the summer. The buds keep well and are easy to store. It is therefore very easy to become self-sufficient in garlic.
However, purple garlic cultivation does sometimes fail on certain soils for various reasons. So, I decided to write you a complete article on the cultivation of garlic. Some points are precise and we can feel on reading that garlic is ultimately not that easy a crop! It is not, you will easily have harvests if your soil is alive and suitable for its cultivation. This article is simply food for thought for those for whom garlic might not work well.
We may then be able to find the reason for the failure, or retry the culture with more strings to its bow!
Garlic, Allium Sativum, has been consumed for millennia. Already 3000 years before our era, it was used by the Chinese to season their dish. Garlic traveled across geographic areas, the Egyptians gave it to their slaves and it was thanks to the Romans that garlic spread throughout Europe.
Although purple garlic has always received criticism, due to its strong odor, it has been championed over the centuries for its health benefits. Called “stinking rose” by the Greeks, it has many medicinal properties! Stimulating blood circulation, garlic is also a good natural antibiotic. The action of garlic on the cardiovascular system is today highlighted by many studies.
The different varieties of garlic
Before you grow purple garlic, you are going to have to choose a variety! Know that there are 3 types of garlic: white garlic, pink garlic, purple garlic.
– White garlic: Messidor, Messidrome, Thermidrome, Therador, Vigor, Supreme, Sabadrome, Corail, Jolimont. The Coral variety is the hardiest of all.
– Pink garlic: Goulurose, Ibérose, Enderose, Jardirose. Pink garlic has a deep dormancy: it takes longer to wake up in the spring. For this reason, it is a late harvest.
– Purple garlic: Germidour, Paradour, Primor, Sprint. The Germidour variety has a tendency to lodging (the leaves bend and break in the wind), so it is best to change the variety if you have tried it at home and have encountered the problem.
My tip for garlic: buy buds in an organic store, regardless of the variety, and plant them! This method is much cheaper than in a garden center. From the first year, you can keep bulbs to replant the following year. Usually, only the cloves around the head are used: the larger ones. Those in the center can be replanted for the culture of garlic, for example.
There is also perennial garlic! But the harvests are much smaller.
Purple Garlic cultivation calendar
Usually, white garlic and purple garlic are planted in the fall and pink garlic in the spring.
You need to be careful not to plant the garlic too early or too late in the fall. The interest of planting it in September for the garlic and that we will have axillary starts (the cloves of the bulb are starting to grow). If your soil is waterlogged in winter, plant garlic in February / March and not in the fall to avoid root rot.
The climate of purple garlic
Garlic is very rustic, it supports temperatures down to -18 degrees. The breaking of dormancy occurs at cool temperatures: below 7 degrees for 1 to 2 weeks on average (depending on the variety). The zero of vegetation is located at 0 degrees, below the garlic no longer grows.
Thus, the culture of purple garlic is considered in the majority of climates.
What soil should you grow purple garlic on?
Purple Garlic can thrive in any soil. However, its root system is fragile, so it does not support soils with too much water in winter. Too much water stagnation can lead to root rot, which is why I advise you to plant your garlic from the end of February until March if you have this type of soil.
If your soil hardens when it’s hot (often clayey, loamy soils), it will absolutely be necessary to mulch your purple garlic, in order to keep the soil flexible. Otherwise, the magnification of the bulb may be hampered.
Purple Garlic: favorable or unfavorable precedent, rotation.
If you have diseases, the cultivation of purple garlic and alliaceae (onion, leek, shallot, spring onion, etc.) must not return to the same plot for 4/5 years. If you have no disease and if you feed your soil properly, you don’t especially have to resort to perfect crop rotation.
Purple Garlic thrives following a legume or potato crop. It can be a good precedent for a leaf vegetable crop (winter lettuce, lamb’s lettuce, etc.).
Purple Garlic Planting Tutorial
Planting purple garlic is done by hand. Push in the cloves to a minimum of 5cm to prevent them from coming loose while pushing. The point must be upwards, to promote lifting. The optimal row spacing is between 12 and 15 cm depending on the size of the bulbs and the fertility of your soil (the more fertile it is, the closer you can get to 10/12 cm). If you are prone to fungal diseases (fungi) such as rust, space your cloves a minimum of 15 cm (or even 20 cm) to promote air circulation.
The distance between rows is 20cm or even 30cm if your soil is not very fertile.
The different situations:
-If your soil is mulched, start by raking the mulch to have bare and clean soil. Weed any perennials still present.
(In this regard, (re) discover the article on mulch production !)
Scratch if the soil is compact. If the soil is loose, avoid the claw which will germinate weed seeds. It is preferable never to touch the ground, however, the great cause of failure in vegetable crops is often the deficiencies induced by too compacted soil. Try to never walk on your growth areas and have plants growing on them all the time.
-If your soil is grassy, you will have to start by weeding. The simplest, but not the least tiring, will be to strip everything with a hoe, deeply, to have all the roots of the perennials. Once the area has been cleaned, the bulbs can be easily planted. It is possible to crumble some compost on the surface (a small handful for 2/3 bulbs) if your soil is not fertile. It is then covered with a 10cm mulch (hay, straw, a mulch of plants, etc.). This will allow you to weed very little and above all very easily.
-If the previous crop is green manure, we start by grinding the green manure, if possible 2 weeks before planting.
In any case, once your soil is ready to receive the bulbs, all you have to do is plant them.
The garlic will come out gradually over the days, allow a good week to see it point its nose, but don’t worry if it takes longer.
Successful cultivation Tips
Purple Garlic is a generally undemanding crop. Vegetative development takes place in early spring when temperatures are still quite cool. As the temperatures are cool, the mineralization of organic nitrogen in the soil is low, so if you want to increase your yield, it will be necessary to fertilize with products containing mineral nitrogen ready to be consumed by garlic: urine, the droppings of your poultry. To make a droppings tea: mix the droppings (200 grams per 10L watering can, and sprinkle our garlic with this mixture. This should be done fairly early in the season, at the beginning of February for example. The late nitrogen inputs are counterproductive: too much nitrogen during bulking can cause garlic storage problems.
If you want to fertilize your garlic during bulking (if your soil is not very fertile for example), use comfrey manure or ash (a handful for 2 linear meters).
Purple Garlic can be quite a water intensive. It does not support water stress, so it will need to be mulched and watered regularly (if your soil does not retain water) to avoid this disappointment.
If you irrigate your garden little, concentrate on the essentials: garlic needs water when it emerges, and during bulb development: generally from the 8 leaf stage to the 12 leaf stage. Watering during planting is also welcome. To put it simply: if the year is not particularly dry, we water when planting, and sometimes in May / June.
Remember to water in the morning, so that the leaves are dry in the evening.
Towards the end of the crop, 2 to 3 weeks before harvest, do not water your garlic to promote its conservation.
For your garlic, we harvest the fresh bulbs, in March / April / May. For dry garlic, harvesting should take place shortly after the lower leaves have started to wilt: when about two-thirds of the foliage is dry.
If you want a precisely measured harvest, it is possible to make the ratio of bulb weight/leaf weight. We take a sample, 20 plants for example, and weigh it by averaging. The ratio should be 1.6, 1.7. The bulbs should therefore be 1.6 times heavier than the total weight of the leaves. The formula is: total bulb weight / (divided by) total leaf weight.
Purple Garlic storage
For the conservation of the garlic once harvested, it will be dried for 1 month in a ventilated place and away from humidity. Purple Garlic is ready when it has lost 20-30% of its weight. You can find out by weighing a sample initially and testing it several times. For example, you take 10 heads of garlic that you weigh. Assuming the ten heads are 1kg, the garlic will be ready when it reaches around 750grams. The fresh weight is multiplied by 0.75 to obtain the correct dry weight.
The buds should be kept at a temperature above 15 degrees, ideally 18/20 degrees. Favor a dry and ventilated environment: the kitchen is perfect!
Diseases and possible means of prevention
The main diseases are:
-white rot (Sclerotium cepivorum)
-the Botrytis fungus
-the onion fly
– leek moth
These diseases are also found in onions and leeks.
However, purple garlic has specific pests and diseases:
Generally speaking, the garlic is not very attacked and the cultivation is quite simple to succeed. However, if you are prone to illnesses, there are some general tips you can follow to avoid them.
Means of prevention
First and as often, crop rotation has a lot to do with recurrent diseases. The purple garlic crops and generally allium (garlic, leek, onion, shallot, chives …) must, if possible, return to the minimum of 4/5 years on the same plot. However, in practice, on healthy soil, one can get rid of it.
When handling the pods, avoid impact on them. Likewise, avoid injury when splashing.
When planting, close the soil well once the bulb is planted. Make sure that your plantation comes out of the ground quickly: for a plantation in October, the soil is suitable and all you have to do is water your garlic correctly the first few weeks if your soil is dry.
Space your cloves more apart as I advised you previously. This helps reduce fungal attacks.
Finally, avoid late watering before harvest. In any case, it is advisable not to water the garlic a few weeks before harvest, so that it keeps better. Also, avoid watering in the evening.
Purple Garlic has antibiotic, insecticide, and nematicide virtues, and it helps fight against fungal diseases of certain fruit trees. Thus, it is very useful in the vegetable patch and the orchard and it can be grown alongside other vegetables.
-The only favorable association seems to be the one with carrots, even if I have never been able to verify it… Growing alliaceae in general and therefore garlic keeps the fly away from the carrot. However, you can pair your garlic with most home vegetables! As often, associations need to be contextualized: test for yourself, don’t let yourself be influenced by articles like this one!
-The association of purple garlic with all the fruit trees is recommended, do not hesitate to put some at the foot of your fruit trees. This way, you can come and harvest garlic and leave some bulbs in the ground: it’s a good way to grow garlic! Their sulfur compounds would help trees fight against certain diseases.
-A space-saving combination that works wonderfully is that of garlic with lamb’s lettuce. This association requires almost no labor if you have allowed your lamb’s lettuce to go to seed in previous years. Indeed, all you have to do is look for plants that have emerged spontaneously, and transplant them at the same time as you plant the purple garlic.
This saves time by performing two tasks in one. Plant the purple garlic 15 cm in all directions, and the same for the lamb’s lettuce. You will thus have about one plant every 7.5 cm in a staggered pattern. This makes it possible to have two harvests instead of one on the same cultivation bed, which is interesting because the cultivation of purple garlic occupies the soil of the vegetable garden for a long time.
Practical for small vegetable gardens!
Lamb’s lettuce occupies and covers the ground during the winter, and as soon as it is finished harvesting, you can either wait for a little and harvest all the garlic in garlic and in the fresh bulb, then install winter vegetables which sow early like parsnip (or summer vegetables) or simply add a little mulch and wait for the garlic harvest at a later stage. You can then sow vegetables such as winter radish, Chinese cabbage, etc., after harvesting.