Category Archives: Garlic Bulbils

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!


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?

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!


True Garlic Seed Update

Have you been wondering what happened with my attempt to produce true garlic seed? Here’s how it went …

(Reminder: True garlic seed is different from the bulbils that appear in mature garlic scapes. You can read a true garlic seed primer and a garlic bulbil primer in past GTS posts. Or read Ted Meredith and Avram Drucker’s  introduction to producing true garlic seed.)

July 11, 2012 – Harvest Scapes and Remove Bulbils

I already posted about this step in my true garlic seed primer. In this case though I removed the bulbils from harvested garlic scapes sitting in a bucket of water.

August 7, 2012 – Garlic in Bloom

August 17, 2012 – The Bulbils That Got Away

It’s hard to remove every last bulbil the first time, especially the littlest bulbils. I tried to check regularly and remove any bulbils I missed. A few got away.

These garlic scapes were harvested at the same time as those for garlic seed. Their bulbils are fully formed and their flowers have long since dried up.

August 26, 2012 – Swollen Garlic Ovaries

This is when I got excited.

End September, 2012 – Harvest Seed Heads

At this point the garlic stems had dried up and the flowers were drying down though I still couldn’t see any mature seed.

I cut the seed heads and put them in paper bags.

NOvember 28, 2012 – Garlic Seed

Yesterday I opened up my paper bags and found …

These garlic seeds came from a rocambole garlic named Quebec. Quebec is a variety we’ve been growing for years. My co-farmer Fred originally picked it up at farmer’s market but otherwise  we don’t know anything else about its history.

January to March 2013 – Starting TRue GArlic Seed

Though I am pretty stoked, getting the garlic seed is only the first step. In January or February, I’ll follow Ted Meredith and Avram Drucker’s indications to bleach and cold treat the seed. I’ll seed them in March in the greenhouse and wait to see how many germinate. ( First generation true garlic seed reputedly has low germination.)

Summer 2013 And Beyond …

From there …

Well, I’ll keep you all posted!

2012 Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Garlic Festival

The 2012 SAB garlic festival is on August 18 – only 9 days away!

You can find our more on

And/or read the following press realease …

For Immediate Release:

Quebec’s Premiere Garlic Festival Gears Up for 6th Edition August 18

Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC: It’s Garlic Harvest time, and that means the annual celebration SATURDAY AUG. 18th (over 1000 attendees last year) at the Ste-Anne’s Farmers Market is devoted to tasting, shopping, and learning about garlic. This year there are some new things added to the roster designed as a destination for the foodie, the curious and the whole family.

 NEW this year, a free outdoor film screening of the folk cult documentary, Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers, by Les Blank, at Co-Op Grand Orme, 20h00.


All cooks are challenged to share their BEST GARLIC DESSERT. Last year’s winner, Montrealer Janice Benthin, took her Triple Garlic Cheesecake recipe to the top at the Gilroy Garlic International Festival, July 28, 2012.  She was one of 8 finalists chosen from 200 entries around North America. Submissions should be received by 10 am Saturday August 18th. A panel of 3 judges will determine a winner based on criteria including it’s “GARLICOCITY”.

Returning this year – The GARLIC GROWERS’ COMPETITION.
Open to ALL growers, the contest will showcasegarlic specimens in2 classes: single bulbs & braids. Think you know what a perfect garlic bulb looks like? Submissions should also be received before 10 am Saturday August 18h. Prizes available for both contests. Contest details can be found on the website.

FOR SALE:  Garlicky foodstuffs at the 40+ vendors’ tables. Amongst others, BBQ Garlic Sausages; Bruschettas, Garlic Pestos; Goat Cheese with Garlic; Roasted Garlic Empanadas from Madame Taco…

LOCAL FARMERS will be selling varieties of their certified organic garlic bulbs and/or garlic braids for eating and planting. Taste it to believe it.

GARLIC ‘TALKS’ from local garlic experts, back by popular demand!

  • 9:00 Farmers Market Opens, Festival Begins    
  • 9:30 Grow Great Garlic at Home                  
  • 10:45 Garlic Braiding Demo
  • 12:30 Garlic Cooking Demo & Tastes
  • 13:30 The Curative Powers of Garlic!
  • 14:00 Market Ends
  • 20:00 Film Screening

Daniel Brisebois, the event organizer says:« This garlic festival has become the destination for garlic lovers in the region. I never get tired of talking about garlic and in the 5 years we’ve been holding this event, more and more folks come out. There is always something new to learn. People are never disappointed”.

The Ste-Anne farmer’s market is dedicated to local, ecological food and agriculture. All artisans and producers come from the region and many are certified organic. The market is at the waterfront, at the intersection of Ste. Anne and St. Pierre Streets.

Contact: Patti Murphy 514-457-1848