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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

CFV (cold forced vernalization)

Updated: Jan 16


Forget about hibernation, imagine a tiny plant party thrown inside your fridge! That's where cold forced vernalization comes in, a fancy way of saying "giving plants a chilly pep talk to get them blooming in spring."

Think of it this time: it's winter, your garden's asleep under a duvet of snow. But inside your fridge, hidden amongst ice cream and frozen peas, your garlic cloves are having a blast! No, they're not building snowmen (yet), they're getting a dose of frosty motivation. Those few weeks at just the right chilly temperature (like a -4°C to 4°C freezer party) are like a cosmic alarm clock, whispering "Wake up, sleepyheads! Spring's on its way!"

This cold nudge works its magic inside the cloves, triggering chemical changes that say, "Time to sprout those leaves and bloom your little hearts out!"

So next time you see those first spring flowers peek through the soil, remember the secret freezer (or fridge) party they had. It's a testament to the power of a little cold shoulder, proving that even the tiniest seeds can rock out and bloom, all thanks to a bit of frosty persuasion. Now, who's ready for some spring sunshine and a victory garden dance party? CFV (cold forced vernalization) is used in all kinds of crops,(particularly alliums).

cold forced vernalization.
cold forced vernalization.

Garlic with superpowers: How cold forced vernalization unlocks the magic of hardneck varieties

In the world of garlic, there are two cool camps: softnecks and hardnecks. Sure, they both add garlicky goodness to our food, but there's something special about the latter. They're the brave souls of the garlic patch, the ones who thrive in harsh winters and emerge stronger, bolder, and more flavorful. And the secret to their resilience lies in a process called cold forced vernalization.

What is cold forced vernalization?

Imagine garlic cloves as tiny superheroes in training. They have all the potential, but they need a little push to unlock their powers. That's where cold forced vernalization comes in. It's like putting those cloves through a garlic boot camp. We trick them into thinking they've gone through a winter by exposing them to prolonged periods of cold (around 40°F) for several weeks. This sends a signal to their little planty brains, telling them it's time to get serious about growing.

Why is it important for hardneck garlic?

For softneck garlic, cold forced vernalization isn't as crucial. They're happy to sprout and grow even without the winter chill. But for hardnecks, it's a game-changer. It triggers a whole cascade of effects:

  • Bigger bulbs: The cold exposure stimulates the cloves to grow larger and sturdier, giving you those glorious heads of garlic you braid with pride.

  • More cloves: Not only are the cloves bigger, but there are often more of them packed into each bulb. It's like hitting the jackpot in the garlic lottery!

  • Stronger flavor: The cold concentrates the good stuff in the cloves, making hardneck garlic bolder and more intense in flavor. Think, not just a hint of garlic.

  • Better bolting resistance: Bolting, when a garlic plant sends up a flower stalk instead of focusing on bulb growth, is less likely with cold-forced vernalized hardnecks. You get more garlic, not unwanted flowers.

ow can you cold force vernalize your own garlic?
ow can you cold force vernalize your own garlic?

How can you cold force vernalize your own garlic?

So, you're ready to unleash the inner superhero of your hardneck garlic? It's actually quite easy! Here's the DIY cold forced vernalization playbook:

  1. Gather your cloves: Choose plump, healthy cloves from your favorite hardneck variety.

  2. Give them some air: Separate the cloves and let them dry for a few days in a cool, well-ventilated space. Think of it as their pre-boot camp stretching routine.

  3. Pack them for the cold: Place the cloves in a mesh bag or breathable container. Think of it as their garlic sleeping bag.

  4. Find the fridge, not the freezer: Choose a spot in your refrigerator where the temperature stays around 40°F (like the crisper drawer). This is their chilly training ground.

  5. Patience is a garlic virtue: Leave the cloves in the fridge for 4-6 weeks. Think of it as their garlic meditation retreat.

  6. Planting time! Once the vernalization period is over, your cloves are ready to be planted in the soil. They'll emerge stronger, faster, and ready to conquer the garden.

Bonus tips for hardneck garlic success:

  • Choose varieties that benefit from cold forced vernalization, like Chesnok Red, Music, or Lorz.

  • Plant your cloves in well-draining soil with plenty of sun exposure.

  • Give your garlic plants regular water, but avoid overwatering.

  • Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

  • With a little love and cold forced vernalization, your hardneck garlic will reward you with a harvest of delicious, powerful cloves that will take your cooking to the next level. So, go forth, embrace the chill, and unlock the hidden potential of your garlic!

These bold bulbs are not only delicious but also a testament to the resilience and magic of nature. So, next time you bite into a clove of hardneck garlic, savor the flavor and remember the superpowers unlocked by a little winter chill.

I hope this blog has been informative and fun! If you have any questions about cold forced vernalization or hardneck garlic, feel free to leave a comment below. And don't forget to share your own garlic-growing adventures!

Happy planting!

This process has been studied by agronomists in field sites in hardiness zones around the world. I’ll provide a link to the article below.

How can you cold force vernalize your own garlic
How can you cold force vernalize your own garlic

GroEat Farm, LLC is a small, sustainable family farm located in Bozeman, Montana.  We’re located in the beautiful Hyalite foothills, below the Gallatin Mountain Range.  The hardneck varieties that grow at our farm (Ophioscorodon) flourish here, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range (comprised of Archean metamorphics, Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, and Eocene volcanics).  Not only are the GroEat Hardneck garlic healthy and beautiful, the flavor’s are robust and delicate.

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