Growing Garlic & Saving Forced Paper White Narcissus Bulbs For Next Year

Question:

 I’ve had poor luck growing garlic. The cloves are small while others never develop or rot away. What can I do to improve my success?

Answer:

  • Garlic Sets, along with Onion Sets and Shallots is planted in the fall and winter months. You harvest those planted in mid-September through Xmas in June with the late January through February plantings later in the summer.
  • The key to successfully growing garlic is the soil preparation and planting Certified Seed Garlic and not those found at a supermarket.
    • Seed Garlic is available at your favorite garden center. It looks just like the supermarket garlic, but it’s different. Supermarket garlic was grown for consumption, and not to be replanted.
    • The variety may not be suitable for this area. When planted, the harvested cloves are undersize, and the yield is inconsistent.
    • Also, they’re sprayed with a retardant to reduce sprouting, which explains why some cloves never develop.
  •  Seed Garlic produces large, full-size cloves and is variety specific for our area.
  • Garlic needs drainage to prevent the cloves from rotting so generously amend your soil with organic matter, or compost.
    • The soil microbes then convert the organic matter into plant nutrients. I’d also add an Organic Vegetable Food at planting and use a minimal amount of animal manure.
    • Soak the cloves for five minutes in one part Clorox to ten parts water, to help with the rotting issues and remove any flower shoots.
  •  Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from a garlic set or bulb.
    • Plant the cloves with the root end facing down. Each clove will multiply in the ground, forming a new bulb that consists of five to ten cloves.
    • The cloves are planted two inches deep, in rows, four to six inches apart, and you space the rows a foot apart. If it’s too muddy to plant, I’d then consider using containers.

Question:

I was very successful in growing and forcing Paper White Narcissus into bloom in a shallow dish of water. They were very fragrant for Thanksgiving Day. What should I do with the bulbs? I’d like to store them and use them again next year. 

Answer:

  •  Paper White Narcissus or any other bulb that is grown in water should be thrown away when the flowers are spent.
  • Unlike those planted in soil, forced bulbs have no capability of rejuvenating themselves for the following year. A bulb is a storage chamber. Besides the food manufactured by the leaves, bulbs will store nutrients from the soil.
  • Once this is completed, the bulb goes dormant.  The foliage turns yellow/brown and easily separates from the bulb at ground level. Depending on the bulb type, you can let them naturalize in the soil or dig them up and store them for the following year. There aren't enough sufficient nutrients in plain water for this to occur.

Note:

Flowering Tulips, Daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs growing in containers should also be discarded. They are usually growing in sand and not soil. Sand has little nutrient value but does drain quickly.