Dividing Garlic clumps

Are those in your hand seed from the garlic scape or from the in ground bulb?

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Very interesting, Clark. My family in East Kentucky had a similar approach to garlic. My great-grandmother had her perennial patch, which she only harvested from when she wanted to give a start to someone—or was going to make dill pickles. She got her garlic start from her mother-in-law (my g-g-grandmother), who inherited the strain from her mother.

We still have this garlic It looks like A. ampeloprasum, and not A. sativum. It is mild, prolific and reproduces by tiny underground bulblets as well as by bulb division. Though it blooms in summer, I have never known it to set viable seed or top bulbils. My great-grandmother told my mother that it came from Ireland.


Not sure why are experiences are so different, but they are. The few times my fall planted garlic started sending up leaves in the fall (usually due to too cold storage before planting or a very warm spell late in fall), they did not do well the next spring/summer. Once I lost an entire soft neck bed because they were almost 1’ high when winter really hit.

Maybe I could get different results, but my few experiences are bad enough that I try to avoid planting at a time which allows for above ground growth in the fall. But as always, YMMV.

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Could be the variety. I grow an heirloom hard neck that was brought to the US in 1908 by my great grandfather from northern Italy. We still plant it and harvest it according to the timing that he used. We usually plant around labor day, and i harvested the last of it today.


@danzeb the seed is from the scape. It takes 3 years for bulbs to grow from seed. Garlic seed is the way to go when you want to add an extremely large patch of garlic very inexpensively. The bulbs are larger if you cut off the scapes. @JeremiahT part of my family to was from Kentucky and Tennesse. A hatfield married into my family but was killed a short time later in a feud. Our approaches were likely a common way people who live off the land grow things in that area. They were explorers who settled into highly isolated areas where they are 100% able to take care of themselves. In those wild areas the cherokee survived where most white people could not easily. The men in my family married women typically of isolated cherokee tribes. When i spoke with a cherokee he was familiar with the fact my family existed but was not with the main tribe. He introduced himself to me. He shook hands like the cherokee they hold your elbow not hand which is code for i know who you are and your cherokee and so am I. @Steve333 my experience is similar to yours which is why i make these crosses that are better at surviving than tame garlic. As your aware im always looking for ways to improve the strain until one day wild garlic with large bulbs will be commonly found crowing wild here. These crosses of things are my gift to the next generation who inherit the land. Im not referring to my family just people in general. @Kellogg_Hill_Farms is that a red garlic? Italian garlic is some of the best in the world. Here is a little more of what the hybrid cross of garlic looks like. Notice the height of this garlic is 4 feet tall and growing larger with every cross. My goal was to make a larger bulbed wild garlic that self seeds itself. The native american garlic is highly disease resistant and more flavorful. The extra hardiness is needed here in Kansas to survive our extreme weather. Like the wild variety it survives winter easily and is more adaptable. These seeds will be replanted. Im also making crosses of blackberries , apples, pears etc. These to will acclimate to this area.

Some of the bulbs can be fairly large. This harvest will be enough for nearly a years supply for my mother.


This is on May 14 . You can tell I left it out over the winter and did not divide it. The parent was white garlic and I crossed it with the native to give a better flavor. In addition the cross gives it the ability to survive outside without me. Divine providence ultimately has a hand on this cross. Part of my secret strategy is growing things that need no care or maintenance. My life long goal is to grow things that are little or no maintenance. People work, they are busy so my question is when do they have time to pamper weak plants? So why do the nurseries continue to put out weak plants? @Steve333 did you get a good harvest? To the untrained eye it looks like grass. Since 2016 it’s been crossing and crossing again becoming hardier the last 5 years. I crossed it with my already crossed strain I developed over the last 25 years. Look at it choke out and out compete native grass.


Hi Clarkinks. Glad your garlic experiments are performing well for you.

One minor point (and it may not matter much if you are getting the results you are after this way) but I have always heard that if you let the garlic “flowers” form bulbils (those tiny garlic bulbs/cloves), that is not really a genetic cross; they are still a clone of the parent. To get sexually crossed garlic seed one needs to do “surgery” on the flower when they open. If one pulls (with magnifiers and tweezers I would assume) the tiny pre-bulbils in the flowers leaving just the flower buds, then the plant will/can go on and flower and make true seed which may be pollinated from another so modified flower (supposedly garlic seed is similar to onion seed). Doing this is supposed to be the only way to get true garlic seed, and do cross-breeding. It was a fairly recent discovery, you can look it up online. It would seem modern garlics have adopted the repro method of walking onions, although with a lot of work you can force them back into flowering and cross-pollination and true seed production.

What most of us gardeners (and vegie breeders too) have been doing with garlics is just selection. And it seems to work pretty well. I know I have successfully “selected” a couple of garlic varieties that perform well and gotten the traits I wanted (bigger cloves/bulbs, better keeping) for my area. At one point I toyed with the idea of trying to do real seed, but the selection worked well enough for what I wanted.

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So I’m actually selecting traits you think that are natural selections of the parent. Very interesting concept and the hard part is why are the parents white garlic and the children red? It’s fascinating I think. Perhaps the garlic that survives best from the original parents reverts to its red heritage many generations ago. I’m still not at all believing their findings . Here is why, If i do not isolate the wild parents larger stems show up in the patch and the bulb size increases indicating they are crossing. This has happened in every case. What’s more interesting one wild cross I grew was large when i found it close to a tame patch that was different. Perhaps the genetics of the seeds are enough mutation to explain this. The strain I have in this patch is now 100% dominant. The weaker strains are dead. If you like I can send seed at some point of the cross. I would love to know how different it is from the strain you are now growing years later.

No doubt mutations and the like happen, but I think it is pretty rare. Environmental effects I suspect can explain much of the variation. Some years back I had two soft neck garlics I was planting, one pure white the other red streaked. I did not bother marking or mapping where the one ended and the other began in the bed cause I figured it would be obvious which was which. Well at harvest time they all were red streaked??? I have been told that was likely due to the iron content of my soil, but who knows; the resulting garlics are all mixed up now and good, so I don’t care but it might be interesting to know for sure.

I could be wrong, but I have always assumed that the genetic traits of our garlics are pretty broad/diverse, and it is still possible to tease out certain traits if you are willing to select for them. Not unlike some of the older OP corns. But I suspect it would take a serious genetic investigation to see what is really causing these differences we are after.

And to answer your question, last year’s garlic harvest was very good here. Good production, flavor, and the garlics have lasted in the root cellar a long time (a trait I try to select for), some still doing OK in there (although the root cellar will be warming up soon so that will be ending).

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