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Purchasing Local Garlic Seed - with guest author Jerry Ford, SFA

Photo: Garlic bulbs. Sustainable Farming Association.


With garlic harvest wrapping up in Minnesota and surrounding states, it's time to order your seed garlic for fall planting.  

Here are some tips from Jerry Ford, Director of the Minnesota Premium Garlic Project:

1) Buy local.  
Garlic acclimates and adapts to the conditions where it's planted, and it can sometimes take a couple of seasons to get up to speed in a new location, especially if it's very different from where the seed garlic was produced.  If you get your seed garlic from someone near you who's had success with it, then it will likely be better adapted to your conditions.

2) Beware of disease.
The Garlic Bloat Nematode (GBN) is a devastating disease that can wipe out your garlic and is very difficult to eradicate in the soil.  Sustainable Farming Association developed a program in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Plant Disease Clinic to test for GBN.  You don't want to bring this pest onto your farm!  Ask the growers that you are considering as sources of seed garlic if they have conducted the test and received a negative result.  Many growers in our region do this test, and there's more information below.
For more information on diseases and pests of garlic:

3) Start with hardier varieties.
If you're new to garlic growing, it would be good to start with varieties that are more adapted to our northern climate - they'll be easier to grow.  This includes cultivars from the hardier of the hard-neck (bolting) family groups, like Porcelain, the three Purple Stripe families and Rocambole.  The Minnesota Premium Garlic project has a "Garlic Selection Assistance Chart" on the Sustainable Farming Association website.

Where can you find seed garlic growers in our region?  Here are two great listings:

MN Garlic Festival Virtual 2020 Directory
There are currently 23 growers listed, all of whom have tested negative for Garlic Bloat Nematode as a requirement for being in this directory.  With farms from all across Minnesota and surrounding states, you can find over 50 varieties from certified organic and conventional suppliers.

Minnesota Grown Directory
With a search engine and interactive map, you can locate growers close to you.  

For further information, contact Jerry Ford, Sustainable Farming Association,

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