Question about garlic

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Tall Texan, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Tall Texan

    Tall Texan Member

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    We're just wondering if anyone knows if this is normal:
    I have some garlic planted last fall, and it is doing well. We also planted another variety early in spring to see how it would do. This weekend, the spring garlic was leaning over so I took a closer look. On some of the larger stalks there was a 'bulge' and the stalk was splitting open. In the opening were a couple small cloves, which were a few inches above the ground where there should be a good sizes bulb of cloves by now.

    Anybody have this happen? My fall garlic sent up the usual seed head which I've snipped off...and I was expecting the spring garlic to do the same soon, then this. I'm puzzled, any info would be appreciated.
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the stem bulbils are normal for some of the softneck garlics. Some will make them only a few inches above the main bulb while others make them up to a foot or more aboveground. In all, I planted 27 varieties of garlic last fall and 5 or 6 were softnecks. Of 16 Simonetti plants, at least a quarter of them produced bulbils just above ground. A nameless red variety, from a California gardener, produced clusters of red bulbils about a foot aboveground on about half of them. Inchelium Red, another softneck, produced stem bulbils on only one of 16 plants last year but none this year. The bulbils from that one plant were planted back last fall and have produced all normal plants.

    Martin
     

  3. majik

    majik Well-Known Member

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    Should I be snipping the bulb like things on the top of my garlic? I'm new at garlic, and didn't know this...
     
  4. hengal

    hengal Well-Known Member

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    I was just telling dh lastnight that I wanted to plant garlic this fall. Can anyone tell me what I do? Do I just plant regular cloves? I garden, but I don't have a clue about garlic. :shrug:
    Thanks for your help!
     
  5. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    That flower stalk thing on hardneck garlic is called a scape. Just as with onions, it should be cut off. Unlike onions, one will still get a fairly decent bulb if the scapes are left on. The time to remove them is when they first begin to curl. They are then tender enough to use as green garlic. Garlic scapes are becoming more and more popular at farmers markets as more people learn about them.

    As for planting garlic, the time to start the project is now. Begin preparing a bed which must endure winter snows and spring rains without becoming compacted. Usually that means a lot of organic matter, such as compost, plus at least 15% sand. Work that all in now to let the organic matter break down further. Then start thinking about where to order some great garlic in August for a September to November planting, depending upon which zone you are in. Or, get some generic variety from the local supermarket to gain a bit of experience.

    Martin
     
  6. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mmmmmmmmm! Garlic!! Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy! (Or was that beer? Oh, well... :shrug: )

    I google'd "garlic propagation" and got all sorts of good info. I started garlic last Fall, and it's going great guns now! I also started some this Spring (I couldn't help myself!) and that's doing well, too -- although it's much smaller than the Fall planted garlic.

    I saw garlic scapes for the first time at a farmer's market in Viroqua this past weekend, but forgot to go back to chat with the seller. Maybe next week.

    Pony!
     
  7. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Pony, scapes and green garlic are just recently becoming popular. I've been part of Garden Web's Allium Forum from the start and scapes were just something for the compost pile then. We few true allium nuts have put the word out that those scapes are often better than the bulbs! A few growers are also now getting garlic scallions into the markets. Instead of a green onion, it's a green garlic. All it's taken is to get the word out and have a few people try it. My problem is that there are too many scapes to deal with at one time. They may be diced and frozen for later use but then I'd have no need for all the bulbs! So, we use some while they are fresh and half of the remainders are left to mature into viable bulbils. Those are for planting back or sharing uncommon varieties with other gardeners.

    Martin
     
  8. hengal

    hengal Well-Known Member

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    Martin - Thanks for the information!
     
  9. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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    I have to keep coming back to this thread because I can never seem to remember the word *scapes*. I'll be explaining it to someone and all I can think to call them are snipes or snarfs. LOL

    Anyway, I saw them forming on our little test patch of garlic planted last fall and nipped them off...then saw them for sale in the produce section of our healthfood store and felt sorta sick for tossing them w/o trying them out. Then while reading a book from the library called Growing Great Garlic, it said leaving the scapes on longer (until they uncurl and the bulbil stalk gets woody) may really help mature the cloves to store longer. Feeling very sick now. :rolleyes: The interesting thing is that rabbit manure is reported to be excellent to add before planting garlic...and we've got alot of it.
     
  10. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Sheep Tamer, do remember that word "scape" as it's going to be a common word in the produce industry within a few years. It's not just backyard gardeners and farmers markets that know them. I have a feeling that they may have been mentioned a few times on TV cooking cooking shows. Now into organic health food stores and supermarkets will be next.

    Of course, scapes are nothing new as every hardneck garlic has had them from day one. An interesting fact is that they really have no other name. They can't be called flower stalks since there are no flowers involved. There's nothing else that one can call them except what they are, scapes!

    Also, I would tend to believe that mention about leaving them grow to become woody. I always did that with an old heirloom and they'd last a year, unusual for a hardneck variety. But, overall size is compromised by leaving them on. For certain, some are such that they will stop a stranger in his tracks to wonder what they are. I had some Music plants last year which topped out at 78". That variety has several hundred very small bulbils with many barely larger than a grain of wheat. That one can easily be mistaken for an onion or leek flower. "Martin's Topsetter" will only get 4' tall and with about a dozen or so bulbils. But some of those bulbils are the size of marbles!

    Martin
     
  11. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    We planted this garlic we got from Mae from Lytton, BC, fall before last. This is our July 2004 Garlic. We planted lots more, June 5, 2005. Mae told us, "Don't let the garlic curl and make those pods, it will grow bigger garlic." But, you seem to say it is OK to let it look so great, and what even eat the end pods?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    2004 July garlic, planted in fall 2003, with close-up to right

    Thanks,

    Alex
     
  12. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I've always let the pods form and pick them. They are delicately delicious as a lightly steamed vegetable.
     
  13. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Alex! Now everyone knows exactly what "scapes" are! Those in the photos would be almost too far along to eat since the bulbils are forming and the stem starting to become woody. The time to get them is when the bulbil portion is just beginning to swell. That's usually about when there is a full curl.

    Again, you can leave them or cut them off. There are advantages to both. Last year, I removed the scapes from 50% of most varieties and failed to see any difference in size. This year, I've left them all on except for several used for cooking. The bulbils won't be 100% mature at digging time so the scapes will be set into pails of water to finish growing.

    Martin
     
  14. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    So, I keep them in a bucket of water, for how long, so they grow, how big, or what am I trying for? I tasted some of the little seeds-garlic inside, they were mild garlic, yet sharp, I think; I cut them off and dug up the garlic in November -- snow on the ground -- the garlic in the ground was all fine.

    What do you do with them, I should keep them, and cook, how?

    Or, do I sell them at the farmer's market on Fridays, is there a big demand, should I bring them down to Vancouver, instead of selling them in Chetwynd, small town -- 3,000 people????

    Thanks,

    Alex
     
  15. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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  16. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    I don't know when I will be able to harvest, maybe October -- do you know? I read garlic grows better if planted in fall. I will do that this year.

    Thanks,

    Alex
     
  17. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Alex, if you cut off the entire scape and left it intact, there is enough energy stored in the stem to mature the bulbils. Placing them in water just guarantees that they'll also have enough water to continue to move the nutrients through the stem and into the bulbils. They are mature when the stem portion is dry and the bulbils easily are removed.

    If the bulbils are currently as shown in the photos, they are too far along for use in the kitchen. And I doubt if anyone would even know what to do with them now other than another garlic grower. There use now would be as part of your potential 2006 crop. They can be planted this fall just as if they were cloves. However, many of the varieties will only make a "round" the first year. That is, an undivided bulb. When that is planted back again, the result is usually a whopping large normal divided bulb!

    Sheep Tamer, you most likely do not have a hardneck if you are getting "bulbils" within the stems. They are certain varieties of softnecks but behaving like a hardneck. Some of the "tempests" do that. My Asian Tempests, in fact, create bulbils about 18" high just as if they are a hardneck. Simonetti produces them anywhere from an inch to 6" above the bulbs.

    Also, if your plants are looking sad now and bending over, it's time to dig them up. Softnecks mature quicker and thus are often planted in the spring in cold zones. (They also more readily suffer from winter kill than hardnecks.) All of my softnecks are done and harvested now. Most of the hardnecks look like they are OK for another 2 weeks in the ground.

    Martin
     
  18. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    Martin,

    Those pictures are from LAST years garlic. I planted it the PERVIOUS, 2003, fall. The most recent fall we didn't plant any.

    And the first time we can plant the rest of the garden is June 1 each year, because we are so far north and the ground is too cold for most seed and plants until June 1.

    This is only our second year for garlic. So, we just planted it along with everything else. I wonder how it will do this year? And as Sheep Tamer asked, when will I harvest? What do you think about when to harvest, or will it just be at the last moment in late fall, or what? Am I being silly, asking too many questions?

    Thank you for all the instruction, we will pay attention. Garlic seems to be a good crop for up here, we will learn more, and for sure plant for next year this fall.

    Thanks again, very interesting . . . going from ignorance to knowledge about something -- surprising and fun.

    Thanks,

    Alex