Copyright © 2008--2016 Ted Jordan Meredith. All Rights Reserved

---Addenda to “Growing Garlic from True Seed”

Seed starting mix: In our 2012 article “Growing Garlic from True Seed,” we advised that we had never had a problem using good quality potting soil, but that a sterile seed starting mix was probably a safer option. Subsequently we have experienced poor germination that seems attributable to less than stellar quality potting soil. We now more strongly recommend a finely textured and non-clumping seed starting mix rather than potting soil.

Rounds and bulbs in the first year of growth: Our first garlic seed grow-outs were exceptionally vigorous and precocious (from an exceptionally vigorous mother cultivar). They produced rounds or divided bulbs in the first year of growth (seed planted late winter and rounds/divided bulbs harvested in late summer/early fall). As described in our article, this led us to believe that this growth time frame was the norm and that early planting was an important factor in producing rounds/bulbs the first year.

However, subsequent experience with seed from a variety of other cultivars has shown that rounds or divided bulbs are not necessarily typical in the first year. Although we often get harvestable rounds in the first year of growth, it is also quite common for the plants to have delayed round/bulb formation until the following year. The size of the plant does not seem to be a determining factor in round formation in the first year, or at least the correlation seems weak---quite small plants sometimes form a round and rather large plants sometimes not.

In the Pacific Northwest, unless a divided bulb is produced the first year, we simply leave the seedling garlic in the ground for harvest of a round or divided bulb the following year. Some of the more vigorous plants yield normal full-sized bulbs when harvested the following year along with the fall-planted cloves of other garlics. Garlic is quite hardy, but in a more severe climate it may be necessary to move the non-dormant plants to containers and a cool/cold greenhouse or porch for transplanting again in early spring.