Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time to plant garlic - and a garlic problem

A couple of weekends ago Jay and I cleared out our community garden beds. We threw a lot of green tomatoes in the compost pile, but after having processed nearly 50 pounds of green tomatoes into salsa and a wonderful pie filling, I didn't feel too bad about adding some green material (pun intended) to our growing compost heap. Now, ask me about the folks who threw perfectly good red tomatoes in the compost and I have a different thing to say ;)

I'm now ready to do the last bit of garden work before leaving it alone until next spring. It's time to plant garlic! I ordered four new varieties of garlic from Territorial Seed Company,  and am going to plant them and some cloves from the garlic I raised myself this year.

I bought 8 ounces of each and will plant 30 cloves. This left me with some leftover which I am going to sell to a friend who didn't get her order in time (they're all sold out of the 2012 seed stock). Read more about planting garlic.

So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I cracked open some of the biggest crowns I had reserved for just this occasion to discover some of the cloves look diseased, desiccated and somewhat shrunken. I went online to see what it could be, and it appears that what I see is called “waxy breakdown of garlic.”

I took a photo of a healthy looking clove and one of these discolored clothes, and I also found an image online with a similar comparison.

Samples from my stored garlic, discovered Oct. 14 while preparing some for seed. The "waxy" sample on the left, and you can see it starting on the top of the "good" clove on the right.

An image from the Oregon State University Extension.

This article says that there isn't much that can be done about it, but what I want to know is can I eat them? I'm certainly not going to plant these inferior-looking cloves, but I'm distressed that all of this wonderful garlic may be going bad while I'm storing it to be eaten!

Anyone else experience this? Your thoughts? Thanks for your ideas and suggestions.


  1. Hi Josh,

    I've seen this before as well! I've never had it happen with my own garlic, but I've gotten garlic from the market and/or store that had a bit of this problem. I've composted the ones that are fully waxy and gross and just cut off the bad parts of cloves that haven't gone all the way. Very unfortunate!


  2. Matt, thanks for your comment. I've been slicing off the waxy part too, it's very thin. I hope nothing happpens to the ones I'm planning to plant :)

  3. Martha sent this to me by email, but I wanted to include it here.

    I have some cloves that show mottled orange/brown spots or areas just on the surface. I've cut that part off and used the garlic. If there was any one the many gloves roasted whole for processing tomato soup and sauce ... how know/oh well. Haven't seen any that are solid like the one pictured. Since it seems to come from high heat in the field it's no wonder we are seeing it this year. Now I have to open up all my garlic and see if I have enough to plant. :-(

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