My Garlic


In fall of 2015 I planted some bulbils. I started pulling some up today, their second year. Many were nice size rounds. Some were heads with small cloves. Some had multiplied. One had multiplied into 8 rounds (individual plants). All that from my plants that produced 40 or more bulbils each.


You should dig up every year. The one you did not dig up last summer did not get optimal growing conditions.

It is very similar to growing daffodils. If you let cultivated garlic to grow wild, eventually they will dis-integrated into tiny wild garlic. Then they will get lost. You’ll never see any 2-3" garlic bulbs any more.


I agree. Everything will be dug up this year and mostly large cloves will be replanted. Some small ones will be replanted to get some extra scapes for pesto and stir fry.


You probably won’t get any scapes with the small cloves.


My garlic died back early this year and the bulbs are smaller than usual. The only variety still in the ground is Music. We had odd weather and that was most likely the problem. I noticed one commercial website has very limited hardneck garlic this year because of their weather related poor crop. Considering all the problems growing food crops, if the only problem with garlic is small or large bulbs I’m lucky.


I’m growing Music and German white but the garlic I would not hesitate to leave in the ground is elephant or old fashioned pioneer garlic Dividing Garlic clumps. I got my semi wild garlic aka pioneer garlic aka Indian garlic from my grandfather about 25 years ago and the bulbs are not huge but we do enjoy growing it. He collected the seeds and used those in his cooking. Some people might laugh but he pealed the seeds and harvested 10+ old large oatmeal containers full per year of seeds. The garlic he grew has the best flavor! Music, German white, and elephant garlic taste like a regular onion in comparison. It’s the difference between wild and tame strawberry taste. My grandfather would never consider harvesting bulbs as he considered it to much work and wasting his plants. Everything he did he saved the largest most flavorful of whatever and did all breeding from that. I’ve learned it that way and improved many varieties of plants but ofcourse every variety you improve you will have 100-1000 rejects to eat.


clarkinks, this is very interesting. I think tasting garlic is even harder than tasting wines. The difference is still subtle. Over the years, I tasted different kinds of wines and know about the distinct flavors of some of the wines. But it is still hard to tell with most of them.

Tasting garlic is just harder. First, we do not have access to many kinds of garlic we like to taste. We just do not find 50 varieties like wines on the shelf. Then, garlic is perishable and flavors change with the aging. The last, we have to taste the garlic raw to tell the difference. It is just more enjoyable to drink wine than eat fresh garlic with main meal…

But garlic seems to be my main focus now since we can’t practically grow anything with my severe rabbit pressure. Rabbit just eats almost everything, even worse than deer.


What is that gadget doctor?? :slight_smile:


Sorry. Should have posted a link. It is a garlic peeler.
The kind with the little nubs inside work best. Takes practice. There are even youtube videos on how to use these, LOL.


We dug our garlic last evening. Despite unusual weather over last winter and spring, it was ready about the same time as previous years. I was going to give it a few more days but it is supposed to rain a lot today so I figured we should get it out. Bulbs are significantly smaller than usual, despite big healthy tops. These are mostly Music, about 80 plants from about 2.1 square meters of bed. Last picture is of this year’s garlic bed on May 13.


Looks good. I wish I had planted 80 garlic cloves but I think I planted only about 30. I’ll be planting a lot more next year (well this autumn) cause we stirfried some scapes and everyone loves them. So now we’ll be increasing our garlic crop as much for the scapes as for the garlic.



I finally threw the rest of last year’s Music to the chickens. It didn’t rot, but shriveled up. But it lasted until this year’s crop was ready.


Our Elephant Garlic.


I have a question for the garlic lovers. What is/are the difference between garlic that flowers and grow bulbs on its head? I am talking about the above the ground part.

I also have garlic that have purple color flowers comparing to most garlics I have are white flowers. I am wondering why. Anyone can explain the difference between these garlics??


Generally speaking, hard neck garlic varieties send up a flower stalk every year (called a scape) while soft neck varieties do not. There is some controversy about when to pick off the scape on hard neck varieties. Many do it when the coils straighten however there is some evidence that if left on until much later the garlic bulb will keep better.

If you leave the scape on until it flowers, the garlic will form bulbils, tiny garlic bulbs, which can be planted to propagate more garlics (which take a couple of seasons to reach harvestable size), but these are clones of the parent. To get sexual reproduction on garlic one must go in to the flower head and remove all the proto-bulbils; which will push the plant to form seed.

As to color, I don’t know for sure, but suspect it is just a characteristic of some varieties.


Steve, thanks for explaining the garlic scape grow. My question is what determines garlic scape grow bulblets or seeds. Obviously I have some garlic doesn’t flower, it grow only bulblets . And some garlic doesn’t grow bulblets, it grow flower and seeds.
I planted these bulblets last fall and it grows scape as well this summer which I thought should grow single bulb garlic only


I read a good article a while back on the advancements which allowed garlic cross breeding from seed. What I remember is one had to remove all the bulbils from the flower head (while not hurting the flower buds). If one does not do that, then even though the plant flowers it will make bulbils which are a clone of the parent. With the bulbils removed, the flower can be pollinated and produce seed. Similar to onions, except most onions go for seed (walking onions being the exception) where most garlic go for bulbils.

When I get some time, I will try and find the link to that garlic breeding article.

And yes, most bulbils will produce a small round single “clove” garlic their first year growing. Then the next year that round garlic will divide into cloves and be like its parent. If you had some bulbils that went right to separate cloves their first year, that is quite unusual. Might want to save that one…


Thanks, Steve.I think I have read similar article somewhere too. I try to grow garlic from bulbllis (thanks for using the correct term ) in the future so I can eat all the regular garlic bulbs. I am not sure when these bulbillis mature so I can harvest and store them. Seeds go through flowering cycle which seem easier to determine.


I have grown garlic from bulbils for several years. I generally have a “garlic nursery” for just that purpose. Helps to increase ones planting stock and still allows for maximum eating harvest.

I have never seen true seed from any of my garlic flower stalks. They flower, then the tiny bulbils form, some quite small but not a seed. But I have never tried removing all the proto bulbils, which one supposedly has to do to get true seed. If you are getting true seed from yours (I’m assuming tiny hard onion like seed) then that’s great. If they are like miniature garlic cloves then it’s not seed.

I will typically let the flower head stay on until dry (or until I harvest the underground garlic) to let the bulbils mature as much as possible When I am trying to collect new growing stock. Typically though 3-4 garlics is plenty for me, as each flower will have upwards of 50-100 bulbils. However as they mature they become prone to escaping from the flower head and planting themselves. I suppose one could put a breathable bag around the flower head to capture any escapees.


I am not trying to grow garlic seeds. I try to grow garlic bulbillis. But the bulbillis have two different types, one without going through flower stage, directly grow larger than pea size , smaller than marble. Another about the size and shape of wheat grain, mostly smaller than grains of wheat. Both types of bulbillis are viable , can grow into a small garlic plant. The pea size and shape bulbillis grow plants with scape in the spring. The wheat size and shape bulbillis grow single clove garlic in the spring. When I posted the question above, I was trying to seek info on what causes these two different types of bulbillis formation.