Tiny garlic yield

I always plant garlic cloves between my roses. They seem to be effective in keeping off pests.
But when the garlic tops die and I lift the new heads, they are so tiny! Pathetic.
Any relevant experience out there?
TIA
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Higgs Boson wrote:

When are you planting them? Spring or late fall?
Bob
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Mmm...AFAIK, it's "winter", after I finish pruning. "Winter" in quotes because this is a mild Mediterranean area.
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Higgs Boson wrote:

Garlic is the easiest plant to selectively breed. The rule is simple: Plant big cloves, they make big bulbs. Plant small cloves, get very disappointing bulbs. Whether you plant garlic you buy in the supermarket (which has always worked extremely well for me) or by certified garlic stock from a seedman, get twice what you think you want to plant, and plant only the largest cloves.
In most areas of the country, garlic is best planted about a week after the first frost. It winters over, vernalizing that way, and comes up in the early spring. Those bulbs will ultimately be larger than ones planted in the early spring, but in my experience, the difference (assuming well prepared soil) is not great. Garlic doesn't need a lot of fertilizer, but it does need light, loose well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Though it will actually grow in shade, the more sun it gets, the better. My first year, I planted in the spring, buying the bulbs in late February, and vernalizing them in the coldest part of the refrigerator for a month. If you want to grow garlic to keep a long while (up to a year) grow softneck varieties (Silverskin, Artichoke, California Early and Late). Those are the "supermarket" garlics. Hard neck garlics are a more gourmet item, with distinctly different characteristics, but they only keep a few months, generally. When the foliage is about half died down (mid-late summer), scrape soil gently away from a plant and look at and feel the top of the garlic bulb, If it's still one smooth bulb, give it another week or ten days, and check again. If it has "cloved" (you can feel the many cloves around the perimeter) it's ready. Dig it up gently, and store them in a dark, dry place for 3-4 weeks to cure completely. A box frame with a screen bottom or a mesh onion bag is ideal for this. Then braid or trim the leaves and cut off the roots. Always save however many bulbs you need to be next years seed stock, and save the biggest ones (that's the selective breeding angle).
My first year, I bought my seed stock from the bulk garlic bin for $1.00. That was the last time I bought garlic. Nature has suppied me since. Quite a return on an initial investment!
Tony M.
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Thanks for that comprehensive reply. Does this advice hold for So.Calif coasta -- a mild Mediterranean climate?
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Higgs Boson wrote:

I'd be talking through my hat there - I don't know the ideal planting time for SoCal, but local nurserymen would. If you buy from a seedsman, ask if it's been vernalized already. I know in Gilroy they grow it year round.
Tony M.
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Higgs Boson wrote:

Do you feed themand water them if it is dry? You need good healthy tops to grow big juicy bulbs.
Do you plant them in the right season for your climate?
How long is the time from planting to tops dying?
How deep do you plant them?
David
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They're right between the roses, so they get a good soaking every week-10 days.

That's what I'm wondering now, based on several comments. What IS the right season for So.Calif coastal - mild Mediterranean climate? As I wrote in another reply, I've been planting the cloves after pruning roses. which here is mid to late January.
Any thoughts?

Mm...I shoulda paid better attention. AFAIK, I've seen tops dying from about mid-May.

Tx for your analysis; await replies w/interest.

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Higgs Boson wrote:

I would have thought then you would plant them sooner in autumn say October-November.

My understanding is that the tops dying is triggered by heat. So they are only growing about 4 months, if you plant sooner you may get them to grow longer before they die off they stand a chance of being bigger.

I plant upright with the top of the clove (the sharp end) a little below the surface of the soil.

As others have said, you should plant big cloves to get big bulbs.
David
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