We have now been growing garlic in a hybrid system, in our greenhouse to winter and moved outside to finish growing in the spring, for 5 years. A benefit of this is that the boxes we grow the garlic in are filled with high quality soil and and have fewer weed seeds than most field growing. We take advantage of these conditions to grow out bulbils.
What are bulbils? Bulbils are small bulbs that form in what might normally be considered the flower of the garlic that forms above the plant. Each bulbil is capable of growing into a normal garlic bulb. Since the bulbils are entirely above ground they are much less likely to carry any soil born diseases. Bulbils take 2 to 4 years to form a full size garlic bulb. In the first year from a fall planting most of the bulbils will form what is called a round. The round might be considered a “clove” of garlic that can be planted exactly as you would a clove. Each year from the planting of a bublil and continuing with the rounds you will get
- More bulbs forming (rather than rounds).
- Larger rounds and or bulbs.
We have found that from the porcelain varieties that we grow the “medium” size rounds which make up about 70% of the rounds that are produced from bulbils in one year, make almost 100% bulbs and the bulbs are of a completely acceptable size for planting or eating.
So why would you want to plant rounds instead of cloves?
- Short of tissue culture bulbils are the best way to grow disease free garlic and by planting rounds you are much closer (1 or 2 generations) away from bulbils.
- For the same weight you get a lot more rounds then you would cloves from garlic bulbs. Here are our counts;
- Small 800/lb
- Medium 300/lb
- Large 144/lb (will yield close to 280 since some of these are bulbs with 2 to 4 cloves)
- Bulbs (cloves)
- Small 160/lb
- Normal 64/lb