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Transplanting Hardneck Garlic?

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"Our utility company told us they will be digging a trench in our yard.  Unfortunately, that trench will go though our garlic bed .  Can we transplant the garlic to a new location?"  - Mary in Madison, Wisconsin

"We planted our garlic way too close together! What were we Thinking?  Crap.  Can we pull and thin the garlic and transplant the garlic to a new locations?"  - Tim in Utah

Here's the rub: spring-planted hardnecks might not rock the same epic bulb size as their fall-planted cousins. Think of them as the adventurous siblings who skipped hibernation and joined the garden party late. They'll sprout, they'll dance in the sun, but their final act won't be quite as grand. Smaller cloves and half the size? Yep, that's the price of a late start.

But hold on.  Don't ditch the spring transplant just yet. Here's why it's still epic:

  • Second chance: Maybe your fall planting got eaten by rogue squirrels or drowned in a deluge. Transplanting lets you redeem yourself and fill those empty garlic beds with fresh hope.

  • Flavor bomb alert: Even smaller bulbs can pack a punch! Spring-planted garlic often has a sharper, more intense flavor. Think of it as the spicy jalapeño to fall's mellow bell pepper.

  • Garlic, wherever you want it: Need garlic in a specific spot for your garden masterpiece? Transplanting gives you ultimate placement control. Think of it as garlic feng shui!

So, how do you do it? Gently dig up those little adventurers, disturb their roots as little as possible, and replant them in a cozy, well-drained spot. Keep them watered and watch them dance in the spring sun. They might not be giants, but they'll still deliver their share of garlicky goodness.

Remember, gardening is about the journey, not just the destination. So, embrace the spring garlic shuffle, celebrate the smaller victories, and enjoy the spicy surprise these late-growers bring. And who knows, maybe your spring-planted rebels will defy the odds and surprise you with some surprisingly plump cloves! Now go forth, garlic pioneer, and make the most of your spring transplant adventure!

Is Garlic Sensitive to Transplanting?

Yes.  Garlic is sensitive to transplanting. The plant is best planted in the fall and does not like to be moved after it has started growing. If you must transplant garlic, do so carefully and make sure to water the plant well after transplanting. Garlic is a hardy plant, and it will take some time to recover from being transplanted.  Likely, garlic that has been moved to a new location will produce smaller plants and smaller bulbs as compared to plants that were left alone.


How Does Garlic Grow - An Understanding of the Roots

In the northern tier of the United States, hardneck garlic is planted in the fall,  around the time we dress up like skeletons and ghosts - Halloween.  After the garlic is planted 2-3 inches deep, pointy-side up, the garlic begins to develop a root structure.  Garlic roots develop during the fall and winter—before the ground freezes—and by early spring, the planted clove and root structure begin to produce green foliage. If hardneck garlic cloves are planted at the right time, there should be no sprouting until early spring.

The garlic roots that develop in the fall and winter are fine and delicate.  If you remove a garlic clove from the soil in December (assuming the soil is not frozen), you will notice many creamy-white colored roots that have the appearance of very thin angel hair pasta.   The garlic root, in botany, is that part of a vascular plant normally underground. Its primary functions are anchorage of the plant, absorption of water and dissolved minerals and conduction of these to the stem, and storage of reserve foods. 

Garlic roots are the underground portion of the garlic plant. They are white or brown and have a knobby appearance. Garlic roots absorb water and nutrients from the soil and store them in the bulb. The bulb is the part of the garlic plant that we eat.

Garlic roots are important because they provide the bulb with the nutrients it needs to grow and develop. They also help to anchor the bulb in the soil. Garlic roots can be harvested in the fall after the garlic plant has died back. The roots can be dried and stored for use in the winter.

Can I Transplant Garlic?

The simple answer is Yes, you can transplant garlic.  The better answer is: don't do it unless the circumstances are dire.  Unfortunately, the transplanted garlic plant will not perform as well, as compared to the plants that are left alone.  Simply put, garlic roots are very sensitive to disturbance.  Why?  Garlic does not like to be transplanted. We've demonstrated and observed this at our farm in Montana time and time again.   The plant will often survive but the plant will look sickly and usually will not produce a large bulb.  Especially if the soil around the delicate roots is disturbed. In most cases, the plant will be half the size of a plant that was not transplanted.   You will need to take your chances in transplanting. If you transplant, you may need to replant the smaller cloves for a larger yield the following year.

Transplanting Garlic Early in the Spring

Transplanting garlic early in the spring involves digging up a clove (that was planted in the previous fall) and moving it to a new location.  In most cases, the garlic will have established roots but very little to no green leaf structure.  Carefully dig around the clove with a shovel or spade, trying not to disturb any of the soil that touches the root structure.  Having a new hole already dug is really helpful here.  Place the ball of dirt, which includes the clove, into the new hold, and add water.  

Transplanting Garlic Later in the Growth Cycle

Transplanting garlic early in late spring involves digging up a clove and plant (that was planted in the previous fall) and moving it to a new location.  In most cases, the garlic will have 3-4" deep roots and significant leaf structures.  Begin by carefully digging around the clove with a shovel or spade, trying not to disturb any of the soil that touches the delicate root structure.  Try to obtain a root ball at least the size of a softball.  Having a new hole already dug is really helpful here.  Place the ball of dirt, which includes the clove, into the new hold, and add water.  Using clean scissors or clippers, remove the top 4-6 inches of the leaf structure.  This haircut helps prevent water loss and really seems to help the plant get re-established.  If the transplant was successful, it should begin to grow new leaves within a week or so. 

Best Time to Transplant Garlic?

The best time to transplant garlic is very, very, very early in the development of the plant.  The roots should be tiny.  Transplant in the morning, evening or on a cloudy day.  Check the weather forecast and transplant before it rains.  This protects the plants from direct sun while they make the transition. 

How to Transplant Garlic - a Few Tricks

Keep as much soil around the roots as possible when transplanting, especially if you transplant later in the growing season.  Try not to disturb the roots in any way. This means digging up a large mound of dirt around each plant.  This can be accomplished with a broad shovel while the soil is either dry or damp.  

Keep the garlic roots moist – Keep the soil well-watered, but make sure that the garlic plant has good drainage and is not in standing water. Wait patiently – Sometimes a plant just needs a few days to recover from transplant shock. Give it some time with an understanding you just caused major trama to this delicate plant.

Can “Vitamin B1" be used for Transplant Shock?  This myth arose from early work on plant growth regulators, called auxins, which were mixed with vitamin B-1.  Vitamin B1 is not a miracle drug, and does not make all plants grow bigger especially after transplanting. 

Transplanting Other Vegetables (not Garlic)

Transplanting vegetables is the process of moving young plants from one container or location to another. It is a common practice in gardening, as it allows plants to grow larger and produce more fruit or vegetables.

There are a few things to keep in mind when transplanting vegetables:

  • Choose the right time to transplant. Vegetables should be transplanted when they are young and have a few healthy leaves. This will give them the best chance of surviving and thriving in their new location.

  • Prepare the soil. The soil in the new location should be well-drained and free of weeds. You may also want to add some compost or manure to the soil to improve its fertility.

  • Water the plants well before transplanting. This will help to loosen the soil around the roots and make it easier to transplant the plants.

  • Transplant the plants carefully. Be careful not to damage the roots of the plants when transplanting them.

  • Water the plants after transplanting. Water the plants well after transplanting to help them settle into their new location.

Here are some tips for successful transplanting:

  • Use a sharp knife to cut the plants from their original pots.

  • Plant the plants in a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball.

  • Fill in the hole with soil and press down gently.

  • Water the plants well after transplanting.

  • Fertilize the plants a few weeks after transplanting.

With a little care and attention, you can successfully transplant vegetables and enjoy a bountiful harvest.



Garlic Does Not Like to be Transplanted
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A Sad Story about Transplanting Garlic

"Once upon a time, there was a farmer who grew garlic. He loved his garlic and took great care of it. He watered it every day and fertilized it regularly. He also kept the weeds away and protected it from pests.

One day in June, the farmer received a letter from the government. The letter said that the government was going to build a new highway and that the farmer's farm was going to be in the way. The farmer was devastated. He did not know what he was going to do.  The farmer tried to fight the government, but he was unsuccessful. The government took his farm and the farmer was left with just enough money to buy another smaller property. He was forced to move away. He was heartbroken.

The farmer decided to transplant his garlic to a new location. He carefully dug up the bulbs and transplanted them into the new soil. He watered them well and hoped that they would take root.

But the garlic did not take root. They all wilted and died. The farmer was heartbroken. He had lost his beloved garlic.  

The farmer learned that transplanting garlic is a delicate process. It is important to use the right soil and to water the plants well. He also learned that garlic is a sensitive plant and that it can be easily damaged.

The farmer never transplanted garlic again. "

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