Garlic Curlicues

nutsaboutflowers(2b/3a)July 10, 2012

When your garlic forms the curlicues, do you remove them, or do you let them flower?

I've read that removing them helps the plant concentrate it's energy on forming the bulbs, but have you actually seen any difference?

This is my first year growing garlic.

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I'm so glad you're asking, because I want to try garlic this fall and spent the past week reading up on it on the allium forum. Then the thought occurred to me that I should check out this forum to see if anyone's reported having success with garlic, and came across your post last year about buying some to plant. I was going to do a post inquiring about your garlic, but changed my mind, I felt it would come across as a bit "sketchy" of me!

Many growers clip the scape, depending upon variety it may curl more than once, and if growing a lot of garlic some people leave a few, because once the scape straightens out it is supposed to be ready for harvest. If clipped, harvest is supposed to be 2 - 3 weeks later (you'll have to verify on the allium forum, sorry). The scapes are supposed to be good to steam, or pan fry, or use as seasoning, although depending upon how much curl there is the texture can be woody. In a book I am reading "growing great garlic" it says that in one country, garlic is grown just for the scapes to be eaten. The author notes different growers have experimented by weighing the harvest of garlic with cut scapes versus not, and it seems to have increased harvest/bulb size overall, but not huge-normously, more like 15% (my memory isn't so good on that). Seems the occurrence is more important for gauging harvest. Just like with not wanting onions to go to seed to concentrate the energy to producing a larger onion, I think the same is for garlic.

Hope harvest is great, will be standing by to read about it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Scapes

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:44PM
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I love a good experiment.

I think I'll remove them from half the plants and leave them on the other half. Hopefully I'll be able to tell the difference when I harvest them.

I just think the curlicues look so cool =:)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:58PM
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The culicues look like miniature garlic plants. Can they be clipped whole and planted to form big garlic bulbs the next year?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:52AM
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bdgardener(3 AB)

Ok, so since the kids aren't up yet and I can get 5 min on the computer here is my two cents. Have been growing garlic in Alberta for the last 10 years successfully. clip any culicues as I do on onions. Don't harvest till the top die down like onions and leave some in the garden to over winter. In the spring the over wintered ones will send up multiple stocks. When they are about 4-6 inches in height I lift them and separate and replant. There is your garlic for the next year. Mine are in a raised bed about 8 inches up that way they don't get soaked and rot in the spring. You will never have to buy starter garlic again. Cheryl

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:26AM
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Cheryl, thanks for the info. We've grown garlic for 2 years now and always bought starter garlic in the spring, never new about leaving it inground over winter. As for the scapes/curliques, I read in my book that these should be cut off because it lets the bulb grow. You can use the scapes in salads, stir fries whatever. Marg

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:35AM
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DON: the top of the scape will contain little bulbils, which can be planted and produce exact genetic replicas of the garlic it came from - in 2 years time. Most people don't want to wait that long for garlic and may opt to replant some of their biggest cloves for growing garlic the following summer. Apparently there's been efforts made to get garlic to flower, because it tends to produce bulbils instead, or bulbils with some blooms that wither, and in the book I'm reading (and it's not the Growing Great Garlic book - that one I still have on hold from the library, it is another book on garlic) growers are experimenting in pulling out the bulbils to allow the flowers to grow in an attempt to try to cross pollinate the various garlic plants to create different versions. Interesting stuff.

CHERYL: interesting that you leave the whole clove of garlic in the ground to resprout in the spring. Has it ever happened you couldn't get to it in time to separate the multiple plants and the bulbs have to grow so close together? Have you done it the other way - the only way I've read about in gardening lit (library book or internet) is to lift all bulbs at harvest and replant separated cloves in autumn. Mention is made if a whole bulb is left in ground that the resulting bulbs are mishappen and not suitable for resale (which I'm not doing) but perfectly fine to eat, can't remember if there was a problem for curing and storing.

I also don't appreciate that the box stores and nurseries offer garlic seed for sale in the spring, since it seems best to plant in the fall, garlic requires the same vernilization (I may have that term wrong - same thing spring flowering bulbs need, that period of cold before warm) and 120 growing days, which cannot be accomplished, up here, outside, as far as I know. Unless we have such a warm, DRY, spring that they can get planted out in, like, end of April.

I wonder if the ones for sale in the spring have been stored for a period of time in cold temps?

Has anyone noticed garlic for planting, for sale in the fall in nurseries or box stores? I would think they'd come in with the masses of tulips and daffies etc, and can't recall seeing them. I guess Botanus gets another cheque from me!

Oh, and just a disclaimer, if I sound like someone who knows how to grow garlic, I am not! I am, however, fresh from reading a pile of stuff about growing garlic, but find the best ideas/tips come from people doing this in the same/similar climate as I am in.

Thanks everybody.

Here is a link that might be useful: One example of garlic growing

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Last year I had the opportunity to try some elephant garlic at the farmer's market. The bulbs or scapes at the top of the plants were some of the nicest additions to stir fries I've ever tasted. Keep in mind plants started from scapes take two years to mature. One year if you start with the underground portion. The point is if used correctly they can make wonderful additions to asian style cuisine. If I wasn't going through a major landscaping, they'd be in the ground. Instead they are in pots and are doing reasonably well. If I get an opportunity I'll take a pic as the scapes are just starting form right now. They have a smoother slightly less aggressive taste so I can see many applications for them.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:47PM
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bdgardener(3 AB)

I dont think I have intentionally lifted and separated in the fall. Although I always seem to miss picking up some and that is how I discovered how this works for me. Now let it be known I'm in the chinook belt and every winter is a challenge around here. This past year I did plant some separated cloves in a lower raised bed and they didn't fair well, but we did not have any snow cover this year and then they got swamped this spring.

One of the reasons I do it this way is so I can find the garlic in the spring and the other is that when I see these big healthy plants I know that the soil is warm enough to put in some peas and spinach. C

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 8:13AM
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Elephant Garlic - yes! I'd like to try those too, if I can find them at our local market. Where were the pots stored over winter that they survived like that?

I was planning to try some in a 4X8 raised bed, planted down the middle lengthwise for the best winter protection, and then straw mulch on top. And some in the ground garden, which is sorta a raised bed, but lower to the ground. And wait, and watch, and hope.

With instructions to plant approx 2-3" deep, that means the very top of the garlic glove is 2-3" beneath the top of the soil?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 11:20AM
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