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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Garlic Capers: The Genuine Gusto of Garlic?

 Garlic update


Remember these? 

Garlic scapes are tall this year.  Amazingly, some of  ours grew over 6' high-- and the florets and  bulbils  are quickly developing.  See these?  They grew from a variety of garlic that offers larger bulbs than normal.   Yours may be different in appearance;  in our seed catalogs earlier this spring there were over **20 varieties of garlic offered .
Immature Garlic florets with bulbils

It won't be long before we get to plant the  'little bulbs'  or bulbils. It is no longer necessary to buy garlic 'seed'. 

 Note the bulbils  must be allowed to fully ripen for the best growth performance when planted .

 After the skin on the florets begins to dry,  splits,  and the bulbils begin to ripen, it is time to collect them. Cut the scapes long, let them air-dry them carefully for a few days or a week.  When dry, you can cut off the florets, separate the bulbils and plant them.

These bulbils  in this photo will be the  'seed'  or starters for a whole new generation and crop of  top-quality,  organically grown  garlic.  
 The largest of the bulbils --like the beauties below-will be dried , separated  and planted a couple or three weeks before the ground freezes hard. 
These bulbils are almost a half inch in diameter.

Planting them this fall will result in  some rounded garlic bulbs, (displaying no clove sections) next fall  which can be planted again, -- or garlic bulbs with clove sections --which can be divided.  Naturally, only the largest cloves will be replanted.

Two or three weeks after fall planting, if you happen to dig one of these bulbils up you'll see that a substantial root system has already  developed,  --which  give the garlic plant a great head start for growth in the spring. The root system goes dormant when the ground freezes hard.
 Ideally, for your area,  remember to plant garlic with just enough time to allow development of  roots without  surface growth before the ground freezes solid.    Why?
Top growth would simply die back when the ground freezes--setting the plants back and using up valuable energy from the bulb. 
Smaller floret bulbils  can be planted too, -- or simply  peeled and frozen for cooking  like any garlic clove.
While planting garlic bulbils,  don't forget that it's also the right time  to ripen and divide mature garlic bulbs you have harvested. Always be selective and  plant the largest cloves for a wonderful crop again next fall !

**Don't be surprised if there's another update on Garlic. Why?  We learn new stuff every day. So it goes with garlic, too!
At the Nolalu Market, a small, dedicated collection of growers and vendors sells  fresh organic produce, baking  and crafts every Friday evening.  Recently  I was fortunate enough to meet a new vendor that grows many varieties of garlic.  He has a list of   40 or more !! 
 I only have TWO types  under cultivation --- so far, that is!  

 Am I  missing out on the  potential genuine gusto of garlic  or what?  We'll certainly be remedying that situation!   The challenge is on!  How many varieties do we need?  As many as possible!

  More to come on that one for sure...more information, more varieties, and more gusto!  

Is that Incoming I hear ?


  1. Note to self: Get some garlic planted before winter.

    1. Hi Glory, ...absolutely, get garlic planted before winter--for fabulous growth in the spring. Great stuff! You'll love it! Thanks for commenting! ":) R

  2. What is the difference in the flavor of the two you have now?

  3. Red, the smaller variety is spicier, the larger variety seems to be hotter and stronger. I understand that MANY of the varieties offer their own unique flavour. We'll see. Grow some, you'll like it! ":) ~R

    1. I actually love it. I grew up on shallots, so I know the different breeds have different flavors. I am less interested in their names, but I could always smell the difference when we pulled them or cut them. I have been known to add the greens in place of onion at times for added punch to dishes.

    2. Red, that's wonderful because not many people recognize the subtle differences between the varieties. According to the garlic grower I met, some are even used for different purposes. Btw, the 'scapes' when young and tender, including the floret- make a great addition to green salads, any stir fry, soup or stew. We even use the leaves at times. Thanks for commenting! ":)

  4. Do you mulch them for overwintering with straw or anything? I had considered trying to grow garlic at one time, but never did.

    1. Hi Mike, we mulch everything, but garlic doesn't seem to be damaged by freezing. If you don't mulch, plant your garlic cloves about 2" deep or so this fall.
      What we did last fall was a hybrid mulch process in some ways because we have heavy soil. WE set the garlic cloves just into the loosened (lightly tilled) soil, (maybe an inch deep )and cover them with soil mixed with peat moss. We also added an inch of peat moss to help remedy the heavy soil when it is tilled next year... and it also insulates a bit reducing frost penetration and retains moisture.
      We did also add a couple of inches of fine hay mulch on top --of which a lot decays down fast over the winter. Leaves or lawn clippings will do the same thing. As an alternative you could put 6" of mulch on top and rake it off in the spring after the snow melts.

      The mulch we used did not prevent or slow down the emergence of the garlic this spring and the scapes grew up to 6' high, so it must have worked...":) Try growing some, it will grow fine in your location. I say 'go for it'! Thanks for commenting! ~R

  5. You know Raymond, I never did get around to planting Garlic this year.. But its not too late. :-) thanks for the reminder and just loved those photo's too.. Sue

    1. Hi Sue, it's not too late to plant garlic. Try and get it in the ground a couple of weeks before the ground freezes--it depends where you are geographically. If the ground does NOT freeze, plant it after the first or second killing frost. The idea is to develop roots but not top growth prior to spring. You can do it! ":)) ~R

    2. Thanks for that advice Raymond.. I will... and yes I can.. :-)

    3. Go for it, Sue, yes, you CAN! Blessings to you, my friend! ~R ":)


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