[Market-farming] Garlic Seed

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Thu Jul 5 15:20:41 EDT 2007

On Jul 5, 2007, at 10:36 AM, Marie Kamphefner wrote:

> Regards to the list:
> We have decided to allow what garlic we have left to go to seed. We 
> hope we
> can build up the numbers with seed we save. My question: how do I save 
> the
> seed? Is there some kind of bag we can use to put around the seed head 
> to
> contain all the little seeds before they fly away? Would little 
> drawstring
> bags made of tulle contain them? Are there bags I could buy to contain 
> the
> seeds? Or should I pick the seed head before it splits and let it dry
> inside?

What develops from the flower heads of hardneck garlic is, as I 
understand it, not true seed (from sexual reproduction). The ancestor 
of domestic garlic presumably produced seed, but domestic garlic has 
given up sexual reproduction. Those little bulbils that you'll 
eventually get aren't actual seed. They will grow; but they'll give you 
small bulbs the first year. If you plant the largest cloves from the 
largest of those little bulbs, you can eventually get back up to full 
sized garlic; but if you want good salable garlic next year, what you 
want to plant is the larger cloves from bulbs about 2" to 2 1/2" across 
if you've got them; or from the largest bulbs you have, if yours isn't 
that big.

Oh yes, the top bulbils won't "fly away" on the breeze -- they're not 
easily wind dispersed -- though they will eventually shatter and fall 
into the field if you leave them there way too long. By that time the 
bulb will probably also be overmature.

Most growers remove the flower stalk (scape) entirely, snapping it off 
soon after it appears, so that the bulb will get larger. You can eat 
the scapes.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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