Garlic has sulfurous compounds that defend it against many pests and many strains of fungi and bacteria. The plants use their strong, stinky sulfur compounds, which are released when garlic is crushed or bitten. Though, Garlic isn't immune to everything.
There are biological enemies which suggest that garlic isn't all that tough after all. Despite garlic's sulfur compounds, garlic is susceptible to diseases. Most of the threats can be controlled by good garden practices such as removing and destroying plants that look sick, avoiding too much watering (and subsequent soggy soil), and planting only healthy unblemished cloves. Crop rotation -- changing the planting location also helps prevent the spread of viruses and fungi.
There are Benefits of soaking garlic cloves, such as:
Increased germination rate
Larger, healthier cloves
Reduced risk of disease
One of the most prevalent issues with both Garlic and Onions is Bulb Mites (Aceria tulipae, Rhizoglyphus spp.). Two genera of mites are known to infect species of Allium. The dry bulb mite (Aceria tulipae) is an eriophyid mite that survives on cultivated Allium species. These little bugs need to eat too. They are part of the life cycle here on earth. In the garlic field, mites feed mainly on the roots and basal plate. In storage, the mites move into the garlic bulb, where their feeding activity causes sunken tan to brown spots to form on cloves. Desiccation may occur. Soft rot bacteria or fungi may also be present.
Before putting garlic cloves into the ground, we soak the cloves in two "stinky" solutions prior to planting - that provide two important benefits. If you’ve never done this before and have grown beautiful garlic, that is great news! I offer this suggestion to you, and ask that you be open-minded to this garden tip, as it can prevent a tragedy in your garlic patch, and, it has the potential to help you grow even more exceptional garlic
There are many options for "soaking" garlic prior to planting. A group of garlic farmers in Wisconsin, soak their cloves in Gin, Vodka or another similar alcholoic beverage. Another group of farmers in Ohio, soak cloves and cover them in rubbing alcohol for 3-5 minutes, so the alcohol penetrates the clove covers and kills any mites inside. Then they plant the cloves immediately. Traditionally, other growers of hardneck garlic soak their seed garlic (cloves) in a solution made up of a combination of isopropyl alcohol, water, and/or hydrogen peroxide. Another option is to use simply water and baking soda. Over the past few years, we have been using a 24-hour soak, using a 2% soap, and 2% mineral oil solution, which is apparently, effective against dry bulb mites.
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
How to Soak Garlic Before Planting: https://www.yellowbirchhobbyfarm.com/growing-garlic-how-and-why-you-should-soak-before-planting/
Planting the Next Crop of Garlic?: https://www.groeat.com/post/manage-your-blog-from-your-live-site
Tag: popping garlic cloves for planting: https://www.sustainablemarketfarming.com/tag/popping-garlic-cloves-for-planting/
Soaking Garlic Before Planting | Bozeman MT | GroEat: https://www.groeat.com/soaking-garlic-before-planting
Garlic Fertilization Soak - Garlic Planting Instructions: https://keeneorganics.com/garlic-fertilization-soak/
Garlic Soaking 101.
Soaking garlic cloves prior to planting has the potential to provide two important benefits. Soaking the cloves in a 2% soap, 2% mineral solution, or an alchhol solution has the potential to kill any mites or little critters living on the surface of the cloves. This first soak, cloves are submerged to destroy any mold, bacteria or other bad things that could survive the long, cold winter, and play mischief and create chaos in your garlic patch, next spring. This short, first soak, acts as an antiseptic, capable of destroying tiny mites hiding in the cloves, fungal diseases, and microbes (or at least prevent or inhibit their growth). It doesn't get the garlic drunk.
An Optional Second Soak, potentially infuses the garlic cloves with "nutrients" to give them a head start in the fall. This second soak is in a solution of water, organic fish fertilizer and/or liquid seaweed fertilizer, and baking soda. The soak time is for about 12-24 hours, just before planting. This treatment has the potential to infuse , the garlic cloves with a boost of essential nutrients. It's like a fertilizer marinade, for the benefit of the garlic. The garlic will store this added energy and nutrients until spring. The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) acts as an inhibitor. Baking soda is considered a "significant killer" of bacterial suspensions and has been shown to significantly decrease the number of viable bacterial cells. This mixture provides a nutritional boost for our garlic and acts as an effective at killing bacteria and mold that might be hidden on the garlic cloves.
PRO TIP: Soak seed garlic (cloves) for 24 hours in 2% soap (not detergent) and 2% mineral oil prior to planting. This is effective against dry bulb mite (Aceria tulipae) is an eriophyid mite that survives on cultivated Allium species.
Fish emulsion fertilizer is made from whole fish and carcass products, including heads, eyes, bones, scales, and skin. This product is processed to remove oils, and the liquid that remains after processing is fish emulsion. After straining out solids, sulfuric acid is added to lower the pH, preventing microbes from growing. A common fish emulsion is: Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 . Liquid seaweed fertilizer is an alternative to fish emulsion. Liquid seaweed fertilizer is a concentrated formula containing nitrogen and nutrients. Most seaweed-based fertilizers are made from kelp, a variety of seaweed that can grow to lengths of over 40 meters. Trace elements found in organic seaweed fertilizers include magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and nitrogen—all of which are beneficial to garlic. Nitrogen, for instance, is essential to the production of nitrate, a key component needed by plants during photosynthesis.
PRO TIP: Soak seed garlic (cloves) for 24 hours in 2% soap (not detergent) and 2% mineral oil prior to planting. This is effective against dry bulb mite (Aceria tulipae) is an eriophyid mite that survives on cultivated Allium species. It is often confused with the wheat curl mite (A. tosichella), though it is believed that the host range of the latter species may also include Alliums. Bulb mite species in the genus Rhizoglyphus can also be troublesome on Alliums.
Just prior to planting, we let the cloves drain for a few minutes - this process ensures all the liquid is removed. We also wash our hands with soap before handling the garlic cloves as an added measure. Plant within 1 hour of the second soak.
Notes and Additional Information
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) - NaHCO3, is a crystalline salt, found in a natural mineral form in nahcolite deposits and is ground to a fine powder. Sodium bicarbonate can promote the action of some antibiotics that work against bacterial growth. Owing to its pH regulation activity, sodium bicarbonate reduces the pH gradient across bacterial membranes. How does sodium bicarbonate work? It plays both a promoting as well as an inhibiting role in antibiotic action. On one hand, sodium bicarbonate decreases the potency of most tetracyclines as a decrease in the pH gradient reduces the protonation of tetracycline and lowers its uptake by bacteria. On the other hand, sodium bicarbonate increases the potency of many aminoglycoside antibiotics that rely on the increase in charge differential to enter bacterial cells upon a pH decrease due to bicarbonate. Today, this chemical powerhouse is produced globally, with an estimated volume of 2 million tons per year. The science of baking soda, this unassuming salt, has a multitude of domestic and industrial uses, including as a food additive, medicine, and cleaning product.
Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless, flammable chemical compound (chemical formula CH3CHOHCH3) with a strong odor. Isopropyl alcohol, particularly in solutions between 60% and 90% alcohol with 10 – 40% purified water, is rapidly antimicrobial against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Once alcohol concentrations drop below 50%, the usefulness for disinfection drops sharply. Notably, higher concentrations of alcohol don’t generate more desirable bactericidal, virucidal, or fungicidal properties. The presence of water is a crucial factor in destroying or inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms with isopropyl alcohol. Water acts as a catalyst and plays a key role in denaturing the proteins of vegetative cell membranes. 70% IPA solutions penetrate the cell wall more completely which permeates the entire cell, coagulates all proteins, and therefore the microorganism dies. Extra water content slows evaporation, therefore increasing surface contact time and enhancing effectiveness. Isopropyl alcohol concentrations over 91% coagulate proteins instantly. Consequently, a protective layer is created which protects other proteins from further coagulation. Vapors are heavier than air and mildly irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat. It is sold in 50%, 70%, and 91% aqueous solutions as rubbing alcohol.
Fish Emulsion Fish emulsion is an organic garden fertilizer that is made from whole fish or parts of fish. It provides an NPK ratio of 4-1-1 and is most often used as a foliar feed to provide a quick nitrogen boost. Using fish for fertilizer isn’t a new concept. In fact, settlers at Jamestown used to catch and bury fish to use as fertilizer. Organic farmers across the globe use fish emulsion in place of toxic chemical fertilizers. Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1, a fish emulsion fertilizer manufactured by Lilly Miller, is a natural source of plant nutrition derived from a blend of seagoing fish. The numbers 5-1-1 are the N-P-K ratio, which indicates the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Alaska Fertilizer 5-1-1 contains 5 percent nitrogen, 1 percent phosphorus and 1 percent potassium, as well as smaller amounts of essential minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and sodium. Fish fertilizer contains a lower concentration of nutrients than traditionally processed fertilizers, which means the nutrients are released into the soil slowly and the effects last longer. A fresh emulsion fertilizer mixture can be easily made from one-part fresh fish, three-parts sawdust, and one bottle of unsulfured molasses. It's usually necessary to add a little water too. Place the mixture in a large container with a lid, stirring and turning daily for about two weeks until the fish are broken down.
Liquid Seaweed is a fertilizer is organic and sustainable and provides a vast array of nutrients that can help all kinds of plant life. One of the best fertilizers you can use on your plants is liquid seaweed. Most seaweed-based fertilizers are made from kelp, a variety of seaweed that can grow to lengths of hundreds of feet. Plants have to deal with a lot of environmental stressors. These include heat, cold, wind, drought and disease. That’s where liquid seaweed fertilizer comes in. Seaweed for plants has been used by gardeners and farmers for thousands of years. People collected it off the beach and put it right on their gardens as a seaweed fertilizer Do It Yourself and mulch that quickly broke down, releasing dozens of minerals and vitamins and other beneficial components. Derived from fresh kelp, some liquid seaweed contains over 70 minerals, micronutrients, amino acids, and vitamins. Used for years by organic farmers for its many plant health benefits. Also, encourages tolerance to plant stresses such as frost, pests, disease and drought. Note: The EPA has recently decided that liquid seaweed must be registered as a plant growth regulator (PGR). Registration is both time-consuming and expensive and requires additional testing if the product is used in food production. As a result, this manufacturer — and many others — have placed the following statement on their labels “This product is not intended for agricultural use on any food crops.” while they work through the application process.