Spring has finally arrived here in northern Michigan; the lake is thawing and yesterday was sunny and 45. In my ongoing quest and defense against the deer hoodlums, I decided to plant the garlic and onions I would harvest for my pantry first in the southeast full sun garden. I’ve been a garden junkie for 22 years now and I’ve never planted anything edible, so I searched the web for guidance.
I found that fungal spore, or conidia and the eggs of pests such as mites to be the most common problems when growing garlic. I wanted to know what could be done to help detour these conditions organically and continued my search. I was fortunate to find some very useful organic prep and planting information along with a great recipe for success that includes Vodka…imagine thatJ at Bob and Merridee’s Gourmet Garlic Gardens website.
Bob and Merridee write that garlic is subject to fungal diseases and pest infestations that can be virtually undetectable until they strike. Prevention is the best way to deal with them. In our experience, garlic that is soaked in certain solutions and with the clove covers peeled off have a better chance of growing free of pathogen or pest.
When your soil is fully ready to be planted, take the bulbs you want to plant and break them apart into their individual cloves (Being sure to keep each variety separate from others. Soak each variety’s cloves in water containing one heaping tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and liquid seaweed per gallon to protect them from fungus as well as give them an energy boost. Leave the cloves in the soda water overnight or long enough for the clove covers to loosen so the liquid comes into contact with the surfaces of the cloves. Garlic’s clove covers can contain fungal spores, or conidia or the eggs of pests such as mites and are best discarded rather than planted since the first thing the cloves do is to shed them, anyway. The baking soda helps neutralize the fungi. Commercial growers don't have time to peel cloves bare but gardeners do.
The cloves should then be soaked in rubbing alcohol or 100 proof vodka for three or four minutes and then planted immediately. The alcohol kills pests and pest eggs and any pathogens the first soaking missed. Every time I have done this, the treated garlic turned out better than the untreated control group. Alcohols are on the National Organic Program accepted list and baking soda is accepted under part 205.605.
I have followed every detail of the prep and planting instructions, cheers, here’s to hoping and praying I have a good garlic crop.