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Does planting garlic bulbils from stress affected plants favor the wrong characteristics?

 
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My area was in a drought last year.  My hard necked garlic suffered and a few weeks before harvest started forming bulbils about 6" up the stalks.  At harvest time, I collected them all since they're just as yummy.  

Now I realize I have more garlic than I need.  I have all the garlic I'll need for next year in the garden already.  I'm debating planting these bulbils in my food forest this spring since I don't need them anyway.  I'm wondering though...  Since these were from plants that were forming them under stress, am I accidentally favoring that characteristic into the plants that will grow?  Kind of like saving seeds from the first lettuce to bolt leads to future lettuce generations bolting sooner.  

Some of the garlic didn't form them and in turn, had bigger bulbs.  Those generally became my seed garlic so hopefully those plants are being selectively bred to not bolt (or whatever you call that phenomenon in garlic).
 
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That's a misnomer, isn't it?

Aren't the bulbils the result of pollination? Aren't they the seed?

Or to put it another way, isn't planting cloves of garlic to produce heads just like planting potato slips to grow potatoes? Isn't it essentially cloning, where everything has identical DNA in the end?

-CK
 
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I have two areas that are perennial garlic beds, (one hard neck and one soft neck) I harvest what I need in the fall, then let the rest just chug along, some of mine has been in the ground for three years now, only being divided when they get crowded.

Garlic picks up nutrients from the soil where they are grown and that induces flavonoids which are what determine the flavor.
I've been able to reduce heat in garlic but not increase it, that just means I haven't hit upon the nutrient profile that increases the heat factor yet.

My garlic is a purple variety and when I leave it in the ground it will end up needing dividing in the winter, so when spring gets here I do the dividing and can usually harvest all we need come August or September.

Bulbils are garlic seeds and it takes two years growth to get a good bulb of garlic from them.
 
Mike Haasl
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Ok, I hope I'm using the right word.  They're little round balls that form in the middle of the stalk, above ground.  Each clump of them had from 2 to 6 "bulbils" in it.

The main thing I'm wondering is if these bulbils will generate garlic that will be more likely to form bulbils (instead of big heads) in the future.

Chris, I think this is more akin to planting the cloves (or seed potatoes) to get clones of the parents since these "bulbils" didn't form flowers.  But the key is that of 100 garlic plants, only 60 formed bulbils and had smaller bulbs, the other 40 didn't form bulbils and had bigger heads.  So I saved those for my seed garlic.  I'm just wondering if these other ones are just as good or if they will then be 100% likely to form bulbils in future dry years.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:Ok, I hope I'm using the right word.  They're little round balls that form in the middle of the stalk, above ground.  Each clump of them had from 2 to 6 "bulbils" in it.

The main thing I'm wondering is if these bulbils will generate garlic that will be more likely to form bulbils (instead of big heads) in the future.

Chris, I think this is more akin to planting the cloves (or seed potatoes) to get clones of the parents since these "bulbils" didn't form flowers.  But the key is that of 100 garlic plants, only 60 formed bulbils and had smaller bulbs, the other 40 didn't form bulbils and had bigger heads.  So I saved those for my seed garlic.  I'm just wondering if these other ones are just as good or if they will then be 100% likely to form bulbils in future dry years.



My belief has always been that I plant what I want to produce. You probably want the biggest, best bulbs, so that is what you should select for. I would use up the smaller bulbs and their bulbils in cooking, and I would plant the nice big cloves from the plants that didn’t put energy into bulbils. If you have a glut, don’t forget that the livestock can benefit from garlic also.
 
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Vandana Shiva talks about epigenetics which i understand (not being a scientist) as being the theory that environment can affect genes. Which is not news in the field of environmental toxins. In short your garlics may be identical genetically but begin to diverge due to mutations bred by the need to survive different environments. I would plant the bulbils in the wood. Maybe you won't get big bulbs but you might get drought tolerance, deeper flavour, excellent insect spray, or just plants doing what plants do. I mean even your bolting lettuce might be of use in a wild situation where the better behaved lettuces would not survive. And make better chicken food. Can't go wrong with genetic diversity.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Mike,
Yes you are using the right word.
Garlic has three methods of reproducing; cloves, bulbils and seeds. Each method produces the same plant, it is only the time it takes to reach the multi-cloved "head" (actually called the bulb) that is different.
Cloves will produce the beloved "head" of garlic in one growing season, Bulbils generally take two growing seasons to produce a "head", seeds are a three year to get to that "head" formation.
Garlic bulbs that are left in the ground will experience "clove sprouting" this results in garlic plants that look like spring onions (scallions) but if we separate these and replant them with space between, we will end up with a harvest of garlic bulbs.

One of the weird things about using bulbils or seeds is that the first year of growing is a developmental stage where you will see a small bulb from the bulbil with several tiny cloves and a seed will be a single stalk.
The second year of the bulbil sees larger bulbs with larger cloves, this is the stage you can decide to pull it for use or leave it in the ground for another year to get dividable plants.
The second year of the seed is just like the first year of the bulbil.

If you want to increase the size and or the number of cloves per bulb you have to select for those traits before you plant your cloves or bulbils or even seeds, just like with any other vegetable.

Redhawk
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks team, I think I'll just plant them in the food forest for rodent prevention and likely use as food down the line.  And I'll keep the big bulbs of garlic sequestered to the garden for primary use and market sale.  Thanks for all the advice!!!
 
Chris Kott
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So to be clear, kola Redhawk, bulbils aren't seeds, then?

Further, do bulbs and bulbils both produce plants that are genetically identical to the source plant?

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Chris, the cloves of a bulb and the bulbils will produce genetically identical plants to the parent plant.
Seeds will have been pollinized and so have some diversity from the female parent, they are formed in a flower head.

Bulbils are formed without pollination and as Mike noted they form inside a leaf.
Seeds are formed in the flower head of a mature plant to tell the difference you have to look at the shape; bulbils are spherical but seeds look like a miniature clove, more ovate in shape.
 
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