Looking For True Garlic Seed

Ever since I first heard about true garlic seed in the garlic news published by Paul Pospisil, I have wanted to get my hands on some.

This past winter I got part of my wish. Ted Meredith (author The Complete Book of Garlic) and Avram Drucker wrote a clear introduction to producing true garlic seed in the Spring 2012 Edition of Seed Saver’s Exchange magazine the Heritage Farm Companion. You can read the article here.

Yesterday I decided to see whether I can get some garlic scapes to set true seed.

(Note: True garlic seed is different from the bulbils that appear in mature garlic scapes – you can read a garlic bulbil primer in this GTS post.)

I started with a rocambole scape.

I slit the spathe open.

Exposing the immature bulbils and flowers.

I pulled out the bulbils one by one.

This rocambole garlic scape only had a handful.

Leaving the garlic flowers.

Theoretically the removal of the bulbils will stress the plant and force the flowers to mature and set seed.

I’ll only know if I’m successful in a few weeks.

If you want to jump into the broader true garlic seed conversation, the seed savers exchange has a forum thread on the subject.


13 thoughts on “Looking For True Garlic Seed

  1. daniel, thanks so much! again great photos – my garlic is just scaping, so I am going to give it a try!

  2. Thanks for the garlic seed post and especially the photos that help me understand. I have just spent too much time pulling up, or when I ran out of steam, cutting, scapes off “gone to seed” or “wild” garlic on the edges of my vege patch. I think these are the desendants of plants from a few years ago before I started cutting off the scapes. They seem very adaptable and are spreading into a completele uncultivated area amongst golden rod etc. I asume these are from bulbils? rather than true seed. They grow in clumps, as though from bulbils that have fallen to the ground. A local farmer grew a field of garlic one year and for several years, until he went in with a major hebicide, the field had escaped garlic growing in it despite being plowed and reseeded with other crops. What a survivor!

    1. Sounds like you’ve got an exciting garlic patch. You are most likely right that these volunteers are from bulbils rather than true seed. Garlic is a pretty amazing plant.


    1. Thanks Robin.

      By new equipment, do you mean the fancy tweezers I took from the first aid kit to operate on garlic scapes? Or my Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS?

      I got the camera last year and have been using it greatly.


  3. I left about 10% of my scapes grow so I can expand my plantings a bit quicker than normal. It will be interesting to see how much difference there will be in the size of the bulbs.

    One curiosity though- perhaps someone here can explain- some of my garlics have three and even four scapes. Mostly these seem to be growing on plants that I left the scape on.

    Just as another aside- my garlic were planted in the spring- in fact not till mid April here on Vancouver Island because I had not finished renovating and composting my beds. It doesn’t seem to have mattered- I have Music and Red Russian with large bulbs and growth taller than my head and most of the rest to mid chest height (scape height).

    1. One possibility for your multiple scapes might be double, triple and even quadruple cloves.

      Some garlic strains have 2-4 cloves in the same clove wrapper. If you plant one of these cloves, you’ll get multiple cloves in that spot the next year. Each plant will have it’s own scape.

      Good luck with your spring planted garlic! It sounds like the plants are off to a good start. Have you harvested any bulbs yet?


      1. Thanks for that explanation- I thought that might have been the case, but I did not see any discussion on it anywhere on-line.

        Mostly everything is still green and growing. On the bulbs that I left a scape on, they are just beginning to straighten up. I have pulled a few to check them out- My Music and Red Russians are quite large- a good chunky handful. The Susan Delafields, Fish Lake and Roja are also quite large, my Chesnok Reds and Rose du Tarn are a bit disappointing considering the seed stock.

        Only my soft necks have started to die back and some of them have done really well considering the small top growth. I have Sicilian Softneck, Silver Rose and a garlic I was told was French Market. They are inconsistent- some have formed really good sized bulbs and some are quite small with only 4 or 5 cloves. My Chinese Pinks only grew rounds but the planting stock was small and not in good condition.

        I’m looking forward to a bigger field next year- I grew about 850 bulbs in my garden beds this past year.

      2. Sounds like your spring planting really payed off for some varities!

        One of these days, I’d like to get my act together to do a spring planting trial but it never seems to be a priority in the spring when I’ve got to get everything else in the ground.

  4. Just gt int growing own garlic 2 yrs ago am very much an amateur in garden cirles. But it gives me great sstisfaction to reap the resultsbof my efforts. Question abiut garlic seeds if you plant them do I wait till next spring to plantbthe seeds since I kept some heads that sort of dried up and produced actual seeds

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