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My Bulbil Experiment

Posted by theforgottenone1013 5b/6a MI (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 13:30

I've been growing garlic for many years now but have never actually grown it from bulbils before. So last Fall I decided to plant some Carpathian bulbils because I wanted to see what a round actually looked like.

The first thing that I noticed that I thought was a little strange was that almost all of the bulbils I planted scaped in June like a normal hardneck would. I didn't think they would. If I had to put a number to it, I'm going to say that around 95% of them scaped.

The second strange thing that I noticed was that every plant that grew a scape, grew a bulb. Not a round but a small bulb with individual cloves. The plants that didn't scape did produce a round. Here's what the small bulbs look like:
 photo 98d82d3d-65b2-4416-86c5-872797bb0112_zps4f7814d8.jpg

The bulb in the picture is just under an inch and a half in diameter. They really aren't ready to be harvested yet as all their leaves are still dark green but I've been pulling them up to use early.

Anyway, just thought I'd share this info and I was also wondering if anyone else has experienced this before.

Rodney

This post was edited by theforgottenone1013 on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 13:37


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

hello Rodney, I've been growing my garlic from bulbils for a couple of years now and most years, harvest a combination of rounds and small bulbs depending on the variety.
When I was searching for information about growing bulbils, found this blog http://goingtoseed.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/garlic-bulbil-harvest/
and this article by Snakeroot farm http://www.snakeroot.net/farm/GrowingRoundsFromBulbils.shtml that explains about how planting dates can affect whether you harvest rounds or bulbils.
I prefer rounds as they tend to produce much larger bulbs the following year. This page from Boundary garlic https://www.garlicfarm.ca/garlic-bulbils.htm is also really helpful and explains how large rocambole bulbils often produce small bulbs like the one you've harvested. I really enjoy growing bulbils as it allows me to eat more of the bulbs and not have to hold back as much for planting stock :)


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Very interesting links. Especially the one by Snakeroot Farm. I wouldn't have thought that different planting dates would have made such a difference between getting rounds and getting bulbs. I'm definitely going to have to continue to experiment with bulbils. Unfortunately I didn't let any of my hardnecks produce bulbils this year so my experiment will have to wait until next year.

Rodney


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

hello Rodney, checked your profile and I can't send you an email. I still have a good handful of assorted unnamed hardneck varieties of bulbils that you are more than welcome to. Just pm your address to me and I'll post them to you. Here's a picture of what they'll turn out like. I am pretty sure that there's a porcelain, a rocambole and possibly a purple stripe. Can't be sure because they were given to me by other gardeners and/or bought at farmers' markets for consumption :)


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

zqnmegan, thanks for the offer but since you live in New Zealand I don't really think it would be feasible to send the bulbils all the way over here to the U.S. (there's the cost of sending them, then trying to get them through customs, etc.). If only you were in the U.S... lol

Rodney


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Update. I didn't plant any bulbils this year so as I said previously, that part of the experiment will have to wait. However, there is a part two to this experiment. I planted both the rounds and the cloves from the small bulbs that were grown from bulbils. I'm curious to see which produces larger bulbs next year.

Rodney


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Hello Rodney, I planted both bulbils and rounds/cloves from small cloves at my patch at the community garden this year and they will be ready to harvest from mid December through to the end of January, depending on the variety. There were quite a few left over that I couldn't bear to discard so put them into pots and polystyrene boxes at home as per this photo. I haven't figured out how to upload multiple photos so will post a photo of the bulbils in my garlic patch in a separate message.
The goingtoseed blog has been updated with a timeline of the progression of planting bulbils to first year rounds/cloves to full sized bulbs.
Megan

Here is a link that might be useful: Going to Seed blog


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Bulbils in the foreground in the bed to the left and planted between different varieties of garlic.


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Well once again, thanks for the link and the photos, Megan. From the info that the Going to Seed blog gives, it can take three years to get large bulbs from bulbils. That's actually something I haven't read before. I had always read that it takes two years. Of course, one of those years includes the phase in which the garlic is a round. I wonder if by skipping the round (which most of my bulbils did) will I be able to shave off a year and have mature garlic more quickly.

How closely do you plant your bulbils? They look like they are fairly close together. When I planted mine last fall, I planted them a couple inches (5 cm) apart. I'm thinking that spacing has something to do with my bulbils growing small bulbs as opposed to rounds as well as the timing of when I planted them. It seems that there are a never ending amount of different variables that need to be experimented with.

As for posting multiple photos. If you use the upload button here on GardenWeb, then you can only post one photo per message. However if you first upload the photos to Photobucket you'll be able to post more than one. All you have to do is copy the HTML link from Photobucket and paste the link into the body of the message here.

Rodney


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

thanks for the advice on how to load multiple photo's, will have to sign up for photobucket first:)
I tend to just sprinkle the small bulbils without any attempt to space them out accurately, although I'll give the pea sized bulbils a little more regular spacing.
have not kept sufficiently accurate planting records to observe the size of the resulting bulbs grown from 1st year rounds but at a guess, 1- 1 1/2inches
will record the sizes of this year's harvest and let you know.


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

I've never raised garlic from bulbils, preferring to use the traditional clove method. But there is a soil-borne pest of garlic, Garlic Bloat Nematode, which is very destructive & is currently spreading. The nematodes spread with bulbs grown on infected soil, and will infest the soil at the new site. Even commercial stock should be considered as potentially infected, since there is currently no organized testing program for GBN (I suggest calling the company before ordering). The bulbils (unless they have soil contact) should be free of nematodes, and represent a safer way to share garlic stock. That is why the blog mentions growing a new garlic first in isolation for bulbils (and then growing the bulbils) rather than planting the cloves directly into the production field.

For those concerned about the possible spread of GBN into their gardens, I will be offering bulbils as an alternative for any hardneck garlic that I share in the future, and recommend that other collectors consider doing the same. I'll also be throwing some bulbils for each variety in pots each year... these will be a backup, should the Fall planted cloves suffer a crop failure (as happened to my crop in 2012).

My own bulbil experiment will be to remove only half of the scapes from each hardneck I grow, and allow the other half to develop bulbils (which will be harvested along with the garlic). Conventional wisdom says to cut off the scapes, to stimulate bigger bulb growth. When I last grew Rocambole garlic, I allowed several to form mature bulbils, and did not observe a reduction in bulb size for those plants. I intend to compare the bulbs of cut vs. non-cut for all my hardnecks, to see how the bulb size is affected. I'll look for this thread next Summer to post the results.


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

Megan- You're welcome. Always happy to help.

zeedman- Thanks for the warning about Garlic Bloat Nematode. Do you know if it's exclusive to garlic or does it affect other alliums like shallots?

And that's something that I wasn't even considering was whether letting bulbils grow on the scape has an affect on harvested bulb size. It seemed like common knowledge that you cut the scapes to increase bulb size and I've always cut my scapes without question. But now I'm beginning to wonder how much of the advice about growing garlic is based on circumstantial/anecdotal evidence and/or hearsay and how much is based on fact.

I'd very much appreciate it if both of you would give an update on your findings.

As for myself, this will be a many years long experiment for me. I've decided that I'm only going to use German Red bulbils to conduct these experiments as German Red is a popular and easily accessable rocambole hardneck variety. Everything I've done up till now has been on a whim. From here on out, I will be keeping meticulous records about everything I do. When I plant, the spacings I plant, when they sprout, when they die back, the percentage of rounds vs. bulbs, the size of the first year bulbs/rounds from bulbils, the size of second year bulbs from rounds and cloves, soil amendments added, etc.

Rodney


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

I found this site that are selling garlic bulbils (by the head) I will order some to experiment. What time of year is best to plant them ?

Another thing that I have learned here is if you harvest garlic early, you will get single cloves. I like that idea too. HOW early is that before garlic divides into cloves ?


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RE: My Bulbil Experiment

I assume the best time to plant bulbils is in the fall when you plant garlic cloves. But I would think planting in early spring should be fine. Although I can't say for certain as I only have one year experience with bulbils.

If your garlic follows the same schedule as mine then it would probably be in late May or early June for when to harvest single clove bulbs. It's not something I've ever paid attention to but I know that my bulbs are already well divided in late June and they are usually ready for harvest in mid July.

Rodney


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