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How to Store Garlic Before Planting

Store your garlic for planting in well-ventilated containers kept at around 30°F (-1°C). For best results, choose an area that stays at a 65–70 percent humidity level as well. Before storing the garlic, cure the bulbs, check for damage, and then select the biggest specimens. Properly stored garlic will stay good for around 9 months. Refrigerating the garlic can kickstart the vernalization process. But never use airtight containers or mold will start to grow.

How to store garlic before planting

6 Tips for Storing Garlic Before Planting

Properly stored garlic will produce healthy plants in the next growing season. You’ll get big, hearty garlic bulbs as a result, making it well worth all the effort. Just use these tips to successfully store your garlic before it’s the right time to plant your garlic in the ground.

Cure Your Garlic Before Storing the Bulbs

Garlic bulb storage begins with the curing process. The fresh garlic bulbs need to sit in a shady, well-ventilated area to cure. You can either spread them out on a wire rack or hang them up by the stems. Let the garlic cure for 2–3 weeks. They’re done curing when the neck constricts and the outer skin feels completely dry.

Check the Bulbs Carefully for Damage

Look over all the cured garlic bulbs for signs of damage. The papery sheath should look fully intact without any nicks, cuts, or abrasions. Any bulbs showing signs of damage should get used right away. Otherwise, they will quickly rot. The mold could even spread to nearby bulbs.

Only Use the Biggest Cloves for Planting

Select the bulbs with the biggest cloves for planting next season. The big cloves have the best chance at producing the biggest bulbs, after all. So, set aside the bulbs that will likely produce great harvests. Do not separate the cloves at this point. You will want to store the garlic intact to protect the individual cloves from damage.

Put the Garlic in Well-Ventilated Containers

Place the garlic bulbs set aside for planting in well-ventilated containers. Consider using a mesh bag, small wood crate, or cardboard box. Skip the plastic materials altogether. Do not use air-tight containers either. Storage that does not allow for proper ventilation can cause mold to form on your garlic, destroying it.

Keep Temperatures Around 30 Degrees

Garlic stored for planting should stay in the 30°F (-1°C) range. The low temperatures keep the garlic dormant until it’s time to plant in the fall. Garlic stored for later use can stay in temperatures 30–50°F (-1–10°C) instead. An unheated shed or garage may work best, depending on your climate. Freezers are another choice as long as you keep them at the right temperature and humidity level.

Aim for a 65 to 70 Percent Humidity Level

In addition to the low temperatures, keep the humidity level at 65–70 percent. The airflow and low relative humidity prevent the cloves from rotting. The lack of extra humidity in the air also protects the garlic from mold growth.

The healthiest plants come from properly stored garlic. So, definitely take the time to prepare your garlic for storage and keep it safe until the fall planting season arrives. You’ll end up well rewarded for the trouble at the end of the next growing season.

How Long Can You Store Garlic Before Planting?

Garlic will stay in good condition for about 9 months when stored properly. You will likely only need to store the garlic for 5 months at the most, however. Garlic harvests occur in June through August. Then, you’ll need to plant the stored cloves in September to November.

  • Garlic bulbs will last up to 9 months when properly stored.
  • You may only need to store the bulbs for 5 months before the fall planting season arrives.
  • Garlic harvests occur in the summer and the planting season starts in September.
  • Improper garlic storage can result in moldy cloves in just a month or so.
  • Inspect your garlic regularly and remove any rotten bulbs promptly to protect the rest.

Improper storage of garlic can result in rotten, moldy cloves far sooner than 5 months. Check the garlic every couple of weeks to make sure all the bulbs look dry and healthy. If you notice any rotting bulbs, remove them before they can damage the rest. Rot can quickly spread from one garlic head to another. By removing any moldy ones early, you one bad garlic plant from ruining the whole bunch.

Should You Refrigerate Garlic Before Planting?

Refrigerate garlic for up to 3 weeks before planting to kickstart the vernalization process. This is only a good choice if your winters do not give the garlic cloves enough cold exposure. Garlic needs 6–8 weeks of exposure to sub-40°F (4°C) temperatures to grow correctly. So, you can skip this step if you store your garlic in the recommended 30°F (-1°C) range.

  • Consider refrigerating garlic for 3 weeks before planting.
  • You only need to pop garlic in the fridge if your winters do not get cold enough.
  • Storing garlic at 30°F (-1°C) range eliminates the need for refrigeration before planting.
  • Exposure to cold temperatures starts the vernalization process that leads to bulb formation.
  • Without vernalization, the garlic will not grow big bulbs with separate cloves.

Vernalization signals the solitary garlic clove to split into many. Through that process, the garlic produces big bulbs full of separate cloves. The lack of low enough temperatures often leaves the garlic without a harvestable bulb as a result. 

Can You Store Garlic in a Sealed Container Before Planting?

Never store garlic in a sealed container before planting. Don’t store your garlic for eating in sealed containers either. Well-ventilated spaces with plenty of air circulation are the way to go. Otherwise, the garlic could start to rot and mold.

  • Never store garlic for planting or eating in a sealed container.
  • Garlic stored in sealed containers is likely to rot or mold.
  • Create a garlic braid if you’d like to skip the containers.
  • You will need to leave the stems intact, so you can braid the garlic together.
  • Store braided garlic in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated spot.

Consider going with a garlic braid if you want to skip the containers altogether. To do that, use the stems to braid the garlic cloves together. Keep adding cloves to the braid as you go. Then, hang the braided garlic in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area.

How Do You Store Garlic Before Planting?

Store garlic for planting at 30°F (-1°C) in a well-ventilated area. Keep the humidity level between 65 and 70 percent. Cure the bulbs, check them for damage, and then select the biggest cloves to prepare for the storage process. Garlic will stay good for 9 months when stored properly.

  • Store garlic at 30°F (-1°C) and 65–70 percent humidity.
  • Always cure the bulbs, check for damage, and select the biggest ones for planting.
  • Properly stored garlic stays good for up to 9 months.
  • Put garlic in the fridge for 3 weeks before planting if your winters don’t get cold.
  • Never store garlic in air-tight containers or the cloves will rot and mold.

In areas without cold winters, stick the garlic in the fridge for 3 weeks before planting. Otherwise, just store them at freezing temps and plant-like normal. Remember to never store your garlic in air-tight containers.

Good garlic storage results in healthy plants that produce big harvests. So, take the time to get it right and you’ll get to enjoy big garlic bulbs at the next harvest. With these simple tricks, you’ll grow a massive head of garlic with plenty of flavor.

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