ABC Wednesday 5: I is for...
Some of the bulbs in my garlic harvest this year have these intriguing mini cloves part way up the stem. They're too small to use for cooking, so I'm wondering what will happen if I plant them instead. I usually save some of my crop for next year's sowing anyway, so I'll be finding out very soon!
According to the Boundary Garlic Farm's website, these mini cloves are actually called bulbils and are an exact clone of the parent plant. Most bulbils occur when the plant forms a scape at the top of the plant. Scapes can be eaten, but if left to mature they form what looks like a flower head, but it actually contains lots of tiny bulbs which can be used to bulk up garlic seed supplies over 2-3 years. Sometimes bulbils are found in the stem instead, which is usually a sign the plant's been stressed. We've had a lot of garlic rust up at the allotment this year, I wonder if this is what triggered the bulbil formation?
The variety's Albigensian Wight: this is a softneck variety - one with pliable stems which can be plaited and store well - so I'm surprised that bulbils have formed as all the references I've looked up say they occur in hardneck varieties. Hmm, come to think about it, those stems look more like hardneck ones, but they've definitely come from the bed where my Albigensian Wight cloves were planted. Another indication that the plants were stressed perhaps, or maybe a case of mislabelled bulbs from the supplier? Have you seen anything similar in your garlic harvest this year - stem bulbil formation and/or softneck garlic looking more like hardneck? If you did, what happened and in which varieties?
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