Category Archives: A. Garlic

2015 Ste-Anne Garlic Festival – August 22, 2015

Garlic Fest Poster Final En

This weekend is the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue garlic festival.

I’m always excited about the festival but I’m extra excited for this one because we’ve got two new workshops on the slate.

One of those workshops is all about Black Garlic with Andrew Craig from Major Craig’s. What is Black Garlic? Well come on out to the workshop to find out!

The second new workshop is a garlic tasting I’m leading. During the session I will introduce and describe a number of different garlic horticultural groups. We will sample 4 groups raw and 3 groups roasted. I’ve chosen groups that are quite distinct one from the other to really highlight the differences.

You can get all the details about the festival here: or on Facebook

If you plan on coming and want to invite your friends, you can share our Facebook event.

Now I’ve got to get back to my garlic toothbrush and keep cleaning!


Video About Large-Scale Garlic Scape Processing

I just watched this report on la Semaine Verte about garlic scapes.

The video showacses Le Petit Mas and their garlic scape harvest. They harvest 1000s of pound at a time and shuffle them around in bulk bins. They then process the scapes and lacto ferment them.

If you are interested in garlic, you should watch it even if you don’t understand French!

Below is a picture of our high-tech garlic scape storage system: garlic scapesI

Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Garlic Festival on Aug. 23

Two days until the Ste-Anne-Garlic festival! Find out more at  or on Facebook

We are busy brushing garlic bulbs with toothbrushes for the occasion!

2014-08-11 garlic fest 2

If you can’t make the event, you can live vicariously through last year’s garlic fest video.

Mulched Garlic vs. Unmulched Garlic

We have always mulched our garlic crop. Last year, we planted one unmulched bed of Porcelain garlic as a trial.

In the spring, the unmulched garlic sprouted and emerged from the soil earlier than the mulched garlic. Visually, there seemed to be more winterkilled cloves in the unmulched garlic (though a low enough amount to not be a concern). There have also been many more weeds in the unmulched garlic. However we could weed with hand tools since there was no mulch in the way.

None of those results surprised me. (I was happy about the low winterkill.)

I was really surprised (knocked right off my feet!!!) when I harvested a few Porcelain garlic plants to sell at market as green garlic. I started with the unmulched garlic and was pleased to see that the bulbs were a mostly a decent size. When I pulled the mulched bulbs, they had barely begun to swell and were a fraction of the size of the unmulched bulbs.

2014-07-04 Garlic comparewtmk

I imagine since the unmulched garlic emerged earlier, it also put on more leaf growth earlier, and therefore had more energy to start bulbing earlier. I’m guessing that the unmulched garlic will also be fully mature 1-2 weeks earlier than our mulched crop.

We will be repeating this trial in the fall. We’ll also add a Rocambole and Marbled Purple Stripe to the trial to see how they fare without mulch. If  we can consistently get earlier garlic without mulch and have acceptable winterkill rates,  we could grow a portion of our crop unmulched to spread out the harvest over a longer window.

Do you have any stories to share about mulched vs. unmulched garlic?

2013 True Garlic Seed Update

Last summer I successfully grew true garlic seed. I was thrilled.


In the middle of the winter I followed Ted Jordan Meredith and Avram Drucker’s advice and soaked the garlic seeds in a 1% solution of household bleach. I then rinsed the seeds and placed them on moist paper towels in a ziplock bag in the fridge for 4 weeks.

Afterwards, I planted them in trays in our greenhouse amidst our vegetable seedlings and waited. And waited. And waited.

By mid-summer, none of the garlic seeds had germinated and the potting soil had begun to crust over. I tossed the trays with a deep sigh of disappointment.

Of course, I haven’t given up. Currently I am waiting on a couple dozen garlic scapes to to set seed in our kitchen. At present, they have swollen green ovaries. With a bit of luck, I might have more seed by the end of November!

Earlier this week, there was an exciting post on the Seed Savers Exchange True Garlic Seed forum thread.  Dr. Ivan Buddenhagen, a UC Davis professor who has been working with garlic from true seed for 14 years, is currently offering bulbs of 10 varieties he has selected from seed producing garlic cultivars. He also has limited quantities of true seed for sale at $25 per 100 seeds. His website is

Growing Garlic From Bulbils

We currently grow about 16000 garlic bulbs. Roughly 1/3 were initially started from bulbil on our farm. We propagate by bulbil in part to keep costs down but also to avoid importing disease from other farms when we buy in new garlic varieties.

Garlic bulbils are the small bulbs that develop in the garlic scape if you leave the scape on the plant. These are not seeds, they are genetically identical to the mother plant.

Let’s take a year by year look at one garlic variety that we bought in 2006 and have since bulked up to be one of our main cultivars using bulbils.

( You can also read about planting garlic bulbils in more detail in this GTS post.)



  • Bought Siberian Marbled Purple Stripe garlic from another grower.
  • October: Planted bulbs in trial garden to avoid introducing unknown disease into main crop.


  • June: Left garlic scapes on plants
  • Early August: Harvested bulbs then ate them. Kept scapes with bulbils.
  • October: Planted bulbils.


  • Early July: Harvested 16 garlic rounds. Garlic rounds are bulbs that only contain 1 round clove.
  • October: Planted 16 garlic rounds.


  • Mid July: Harvested 16 small bulbs with 2-4 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 1.5″ to 1.75″ in diameter. The largest is 2″ wide.
  • October: Plant all garlic cloves.


  • Mid July: Harvested 47 bulbs with 3-5 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 1.75″ to 2″ in diameter. The largest is 2.25″ wide.
  • October: Planted all garlic cloves.


  • Early August: Harvested 178 bulbs with 4-6 cloves each.
  • Most  bulbs are 2″ to 2.25″ in diameter. 1 bulb is 2.75″ wide.
  • We ate/sold half the bulbs (the smallest bulbs) and kept the largest bulbs for seed.
  • October: Planted garlic cloves from the largest bulbs.


  • Early August: Harvested 520 bulbs.
  • 3/4 of bulbs are from 2″ to 2.75″ in diameter. 39 bulbs are 2.75″ wide.
  • We ate/sold half the bulbs (the smallest bulbs) and kept the largest bulbs for seed.


  • Early August: Harvested about 1200 bulbs.
  • Over 95% of the bulbs are from 2″ to 2.75″ in diameter. Many 2.75″ wide.
  • We plan on keeping the largest bulbs for seed and planting about 2000 cloves in the fall.

In Conclusion

I  planted Siberian bulbils in 2007. It took 3 years (2010) to get a fair number of bulbs of moderate size. By year 4 (2011),  we started selling bulbs. By year 5 (2012), we achieved bulb sizes comparable to our Rocambole and Porcelain garlic. And in year 6 (2013), this garlic is now one of our main varieties!

Growing garlic from bulbil let’s you bulk up your garlic stock and it also gives you some time to evaluate that garlic!

Marbled Purple Stripewtmk

2013 Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Garlic Festival

This brand new Ste-Anne garlic fest movie will make you jump in your vehicle  on Saturday, August 24 from 9 am to 2 pm and get to the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue farmers market for the 7th annual garlic fest!

You can find out more on the English garlic fest website or the French festival de l’ail website. If you’re facbook-inclined, don’t forget to like the facebook page.

See you there!