Most people buy garlic from the store for culinary purposes, but can you plant it? The simple answer to this question is yes, it is possible to plant organic garlic from the store. However, it will not be easy to get a healthy, full-sized bulb as you would if you buy the garlic in a seed store or nursery.
Generally, garlic is among the easiest plants to grow in a garden.
If you are growing store-bought garlic, you just need to know essential basics such as when to grow it and how to take care of the garlic during different climatic seasons.
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Why Garlic from The Store Can Be Difficult to Grow
Most of the garlic found in supermarkets is sourced from China, and more likely than not has been stored in warehouses for months before it hits the shelves.
It would be bad for business if the garlic sprouts prematurely, so it is treated with anti-sprouting chemicals.
Garlic that has been treated like this is basically dead, and trying to plant it would bear no fruits, literally speaking.
Furthermore, older garlic is comparatively less likely to grow than garlic that has been harvested recently.
Most of the garlic you find in supermarkets has spent years in warehouses and shelves. It would be very difficult to get this garlic to grow, and planting them might be a waste of time.
Most of the garlic found in supermarkets is of the softneck variety. This kind of garlic is not cold hardy, meaning that it does not do well in very cold areas.
Stores sell softneck garlic because they can grow in a wide range of temperatures, making them sustainable.
Therefore, if you live in a place that gets cold often, store-bought garlic will not flourish in your garden.
If you want to grow store-bought garlic, it is most advisable to shop at the store’s organic section.
This is because the garlic here is less likely to be treated for pre-mature sprouting. Therefore, there is a much higher chance of it growing.
Key Takeaway: The best places to buy garlic for growing, though, are garlic nurseries, farmers’ markets, and local garden centers.
Why It Is Better to Buy Seed Garlic Than Buy from The Store
For starters, seed garlic is meant specifically for planting. This means that, unlike store-bought garlic, seed garlic is not sprayed with inhibitors. So, you can be sure that it will grow within a year of planting it.
Garlic from the store will take significantly longer to grow, if at all. Moreover, the seed garlic will produce a healthy bulb complete with cloves, which is more than can be said about store-bought garlic.
With seed garlic, you will have the advantage of planting different varieties of garlic that may not be available at the store.
The store limits you to just the softneck variety because it is the most financially profitable variety.
Additionally, garlic bought in stores may not feature high quality or disease resistance demonstrated by seed garlic.
This means that garlic bought from the supermarket is comparatively more susceptible to diseases and may not even make it to maturity.
Objectively: The best way to grow store-bought garlic is for the leaves instead of the bulb. Garlic leaves also add flavor to food, albeit relatively mild.
How to Grow Organic Garlic From the Store?
As we have already mentioned above, organic garlic from the store has a better chance of growth compared to garlic that has been treated for anti-sprouting.
For best results:
- Start by separating the bulb into individual cloves.
- Place the cloves into the soil with the pointy side facing upwards, with a space of about 8 centimeters between the cloves.
- Next, cover the cloves with a couple of inches of soil, about 5 centimeters or so. With this, shoots should start forming within three weeks of planting.
- If your area is very cold, then it is imperative to cover your garlic bed with some mulch to keep it adequately warm.
- When the temperature becomes warmer, remove the mulch to prevent overheating, which is bound to interfere with the growth of the garlic.
More importantly, water and weed the garlic bed as often as required.
Exercise patience and give the garlic ample time to grow. It should be ready for harvest in about six months in the right conditions.
When the tips start to brown, stop watering the plants and give the stalks time to dry. Wait for a fortnight before pulling the garlic from the soil.
Things You Should Consider Before Planting Garlic from The Store
Before you plant store-bought garlic, put the following factors into consideration.
Most store garlic is softneck garlic, and as we have already established, it does not flourish in cold climates as it is not the cold hardiest kind.
Normally, softneck garlic performs best outside regions with harsh winters.
Other types of garlic, such as the hardneck garlic, which is not common in supermarkets, do well in cold climates where they produce big bulbs.
For the Best Results: The best time to plant store-bought garlic is early in the spring when the ground is still cold. Without the cold, leaves may grow, but the bulb will not.
State of the Garlic
You want to choose garlic with plump bulbs made up of healthy cloves.
Shop at the organic section of the supermarket as the garlic here is less likely to have anti-sprouting medication.
Pests and Diseases
Some of these store garlic are grown in areas that are infested with pathogens and nematodes.
These organisms can easily invade your soil once you plant the garlic.
Once this happens, it may take a long time and a lot of effort to rid your garden soil of pathogens and nematodes.
So, you want to inspect the garlic thoroughly before buying as sometimes even infected bulbs may look okay.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to test if store-bought garlic can sprout?
Garlic grow well in cold environments. Therefore, if you want to see if the garlic you bought at the store can grow, put it in the fridge for about a week, then expose it to some warmth.
Usually, putting it in the cold followed by a warm environment stimulates sprouting.
How long does it take for garlic to grow from a clove?
This depends on several factors, such as the type of garlic and its state. For example, garlic seeds will give you cloves faster than store-bought garlic.
Generally, though, it takes about six months for garlic to mature and produce cloves. This happens between late summer and early winter.
Does supermarket garlic grow?
If it is treated with anti-sprouting chemicals, then the chances of it growing are very slim.
Your best bet is to shop at the organic section of the chemicals as this garlic are usually locally grown and not interfered with at all.
All in all, if you intend to grow garlic in your garden, it is most advisable to buy garlic seeds from garlic nurseries instead.
While it is a superb way to save money, garlic from the store is not always the best for planting.
This is because most of them are treated to avoid sprouting and have stayed in warehouses and shelves for a long time.
Also, most supermarket garlic is of the softneck variety and do not do very well in cold areas.
You should shop for organic garlic or, better yet, work with garlic from garlic nurseries.