dan_nz_gardener

Garlic formed clusters of cloves not bulbs?

dan_nz_gardener
6 years ago

Hi all,

Just harvested my garlic bulbs, all nice size but they haven't formed bulbs, there's no papery wrapper around them, just a large cluster of cloves stuck randomly together to form an one of the ugliest garlic harvest iv ever seen. I'm not fussed about how they look but if they will still keep? And does anyone know the cause?
I noticed about 6 weeks ago instead of a single stem they started forming heaps of tiny leaf shoots from centre of plant. Grown in fertile soil with occasional water with worm wee fertiliser.
Thanks

Dan

Comments (40)

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hi hortser

    I always plant June and harvest January. And the main stem has only just browned off as it does at harvest time? They haven't resprouted just grown in a peculiar way, thanks for your input though
    Dan

  • seysonn
    6 years ago

    You have to harvest garlic when more than half of the leaves are still green. Extension of those leaves make the wrapper around the cloves , keeping the bulb in one piece.

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    6 years ago

    Agree with Hortster... it sounds like the garlic was left in the ground too long.

    Even if you harvested at the same time as previously successful, different weather - such as an extra warm or early Spring - could cause the garlic to ripen earlier. Garlic should be harvested based upon the browning of the leaves, rather than the calendar. Different garlic types have different maturities, but as Seysonn stated, there should still be green leaves when harvested. Those green leaves form the bulb wrapper. There is a great reference for harvesting the different types of garlic in the link below (scroll down to "When should I harvest garlic?").

    "I noticed about 6 weeks ago instead of a single stem they started forming heaps of tiny leaf shoots from centre of plant."

    Those tiny leaves were most likely the cloves sprouting; that happened to me one year. Garlic normally enters dormancy prior to the cloves sprouting, but we had a lot of rain that year just as the bulbs were maturing, and the cloves of some of my artichoke garlics sprouted while most of the leaves were still green. Never had that happen with any of my hardnecks, though.

    The cloves you harvested are good for planting or eating... but unfortunately, without the bulb wrapper, they will keep poorly.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Heirloom Vegetable Archive - Garlic FAQ

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Right, ok. I've been growing garlic successfully for many years now and thought I knew it all so I'm trying to get my head around this bit of information. I have posted a picture, to me it doesn't look like what your suggesting. But I'm human and have been known to be wrong on a few occasions :-)
    Sadly your advice about them not storing well confirms my suspicions. There are 100 bulbs here, our years supply. How can I process and store them? I would rather do without than buy and eat Chinese garlic. And local grown garlic is sporadically available.

    Thanks guys

    Dan

  • planatus
    6 years ago

    Your crop does look a little far gone, but that may be good for storage purposes. Just cure them as usual and eat the worst ones first. Soon after curing, I pick out the inferior bulbs and dry the cloves, which can be ground into garlic powder if I run out the real thing.

    What's odd in your photo is that the cloves are not splaying out like they would do if they were way past maturity. Last year I had one plant that turned into a strange green clump just as its companions were ready to harvest. I left it in the ground and it's come back as a clump that I'll dig and divide when the ground thaws. I have no idea what triggered it to grow this way.

  • zqnmegan
    6 years ago

    hello Dan, the bulb in the foreground looks like a bulb that got left behind from the previous season and each clove has grown into another bulb, albeit small. Although it's really odd that the individual stalks have grown within a single pseudostem - would have expected each bulb to have it's own stalk without the vestige of a single outer bulb wrapper.
    Had you grown garlic in the same bed previously?

  • opsitnick
    6 years ago

    Dan, I had the exact thing happen to me this year with my St. Helens garlic. Similar signs also showed in my artichocks and hardnecks.But not to the same extreme.
    I did notice that some of the St. Helens showed multiple stalks when first sprouted and others showed stalks emerging from the main stalk later on . I wish I had photos.
    We did have a wetter fall season, I planted earlier than usual (late Sept.),and a wet and warmer and earlier spring than in the past few years. But mostly I belive that it was a poor choice of seed on my part. I planted many of the large outer cloves of the S.H. garlic and I belive that they contained multiple cloves inside a single wrapper.
    My concern for you would be is will you have enough seed for next years crop?

    Dave

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks for all, the feedback. Zgnmegan, no garlic has been grown in that bed before. And as far as saving the seed, not sure if I want to replant this lot again. Might start with fresh seed next winter.
    I'm having big problems all over the garden and I heavily suspect I have a high ph soil problem caused by watering with bore water. I'm just about to do a ph test as tomatoes etc are showing clear signs of iron deficiency. Wondering if this could of been the cause?
    Dan

  • seysonn
    6 years ago

    If you examine your harvest closely, you should notice that the ones with more green leaves have their bulbs in tact. And the browned ones are split.
    As Zeedman explained , you harvest garlic based on its condition , not by the calendar.

    But OTOH, if you are not selling them, they are all good. Just use the split ones first and store better ones for the future

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    6 years ago

    "There are 100 bulbs here, our years supply. How can I process and store them? I would rather do without than buy and eat Chinese garlic."

    My sentiments exactly. After years of organic home-grown garlic, the idea of resorting to store bought garlic is repugnant.

    That looks like some nice garlic, with good sized cloves. My best recommendation would be to dehydrate the majority. I've tried peeling & freezing the cloves, and that works OK for short term... but IMO, too much of the flavor is lost. Dehydration preserves much of the flavor, for a very long storage period.

    After I've sorted my garlic crop for the best planting stock, I give some away (to plenty of family & friends), keep a little for fresh eating, then dehydrate the rest. After peeling, DW & I slice the cloves for drying. Narrow cloves are split in half lengthwise, fatter cloves are cut across into several slices. With 100-200 bulbs depending upon the year, this usually takes a day or two... but fortunately this is done well after the frost, when there are few remaining garden tasks.

    When dehydrated, the slices become hard garlic "chips" that store exceptionally well in zip lock plastic freezer bags, even at room temperature. These chips will keep their shape if added whole to soups or other cooked dishes, and are easy to grind up for fresh garlic powder when needed. If you like garlic that cooks down into a sauce, though, you might want to freeze a little for that purpose.

    I share Zqnmegan's suspicions about the possibility that some of the larger cloves (especially those from the open clusters) are actually small under-developed bulbs. The year my garlic sprouted in the ground, I had some exceptionally huge bulbs, with very large outer cloves. I was elated, it looked like the best crop I'd ever had. But when I peeled those cloves, I discovered that many of them had already divided internally; what I took to be super-sized cloves was actually clusters of very small under-developed cloves. It will be interesting to see what some of your larger cloves look like when you peel them.

  • zqnmegan
    6 years ago

    hello Dan, if you've not dehydrated your garlic before and would like to try zeedman's suggestion, pm your address to me and I'll post some garlic flakes and garlic powder I made last year for you to sample:) I also crush cloves that are too fiddly to peel, skin & all in my zyliss garlic press, mix with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray. When they're solid, turn them out into a ziplock bag and you have handy portions for cooking.
    I grow my garlic at a community garden and got badly affected by rust so won't offer to share any of my garlic with you. However, I do have plenty of rounds grown from last years' bulbils that were grown at home in a polybox so should be "clean". There weren't any visible signs of disease in the leaves or bulbs anyway. let me know if you're interested.

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Great feedback, thanks all. I have started eating the garlic already as I put garlic in just about everything :-). The outer cloves look and taste just like normal cloves. Regarding harvest I have always harvested when the top falls over, is this not correct?

  • stevelau1911
    6 years ago

    I think it has to do with the species of garlic along with your climate allowing you to get those. I really don't see a problem with that since those cloves appear to be very large and easy to peal.

    I don't think that really happens much when you are dealing with hardneck garlics.

  • zqnmegan
    6 years ago

    Hello Dan
    I've harvested most of my artichoke garlic at the weekend and like zeedman, have found that some of the bigger bulbs with large outer cloves (up to 10g) when peeled, turned out to be 4 individual cloves. First time that I've noticed this in the four years I've been growing garlic:)

  • zqnmegan
    6 years ago

    I don't know how to load multiple photos in the same post so here's the same bulb before I peeled the large outer clove - can just see the ridges of the the multiple cloves through the skin

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    6 years ago

    Nice photos, Zqnmegan. That was how mine looked in the one year I mentioned. It wouldn't have been so bad, if the skins had not already formed on the baby cloves... I peeled them, and it was a real pain. If it ever happens again, I'll just dehydrate those tiny cloves as is - I figure a quick whirl in the food processor should knock the skins loose from the dry cloves, after which I can winnow them out easily.

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hey guys,

    Sorry for lack of reply, back to work meant back to having little time to do much else. Megan your garlic looks similar to what I have except mine didn't grow the skin around it all! Also just had a package arrive today, wondered who was sending me an iPhone 5! Hahaha thank you so much for the garlic and apple. Truly an awesome thing to do for a stranger :-).
    Will use some of them flakes tonight and see how it goes, interesting there isno aroma wwhen you open the jar. I presume once it rehydrated the smell gets unlocked?
    Thanks
    Dan

  • zqnmegan
    6 years ago

    Even the lady at the post office counter commented - I'm not sure she believed me when I told her what the contents were:) If you haven't already, try eating one of the flakes, the flavour is definitely not diminished by dehydrating!

  • dan_nz_gardener
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Funny story actually, my wife got home and I showed her the package. I saw her open the sliced garlic and I looked away. Then she must have put a slice of apple in her mouth and said "oh that's yum, have you tried these?" so I popped a garlic slice in my mouth thinking that was what she was talking about! Yes I love garlic but 5 seconds into it my wife cracked up and told me she was talking about the apple! Anyway it definitely has a strong garlic flavour! Lovely. Garlic breath.. Yeah :-)

  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    My garlic turned out like this too, one purple variety anyway. I planted it from bulbs I bought on eBay. My first time planting garlic, just as an experiment in repurposing some cast iron tubs we had laying around. These are a large bulb composed of mini bulbs of at least 3 cloves each. I doubt it was because we left them in too long since we only planted in January and this is July, but there was a spell of unusually hot weather in February. The bulb:


  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    The individual 'clove-bulbs':


  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    One of the large

    clove-bulbs peeled to reveal three cloves:

  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    Some of my 'normal' garlic:


  • zqnmegan
    5 years ago

    Good looking garlic S-Ann. Is the bulb on the left the same variety as the right - reason I ask is that it looks as though the left bulb could have been left in the ground a bit longer - how many green leaves were left when you lifted it? If you remember that each green leaf is a bulb wrapper, you can wAit until all but have gone four have browned before harvesting.


  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you :) They are different varieties. The one on the right is supposed to be Elephant garlic that I bought in a store and planted a leftover clove. The cloves are large but very few on each bulb. The other one was also leftovers from garlic bought in a store but some of the more ordinary stuff. I just planted cloves that were a little too flimsy to cook with and it turned out pretty well. The 'mutant' ones are what I bought on ebay and they seem to be the most flavorful, however weird looking.

  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    They were all planted on the same day but some may have received more or less attention from my backyard chicken flock.

  • cptcosmos
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I had a similar experience this year, this garlic was sold to me as Nootka Rose but since it turned out to be a hard neck variety I am only a bit suspicious of that claim...

    In one plot I planted 100 cloves of 7 different varieties of garlic, most did exceptionally well but five of fifteen of the "Nootka Rose" cloves I planted turned out to be "Mutants!!!". I was just putting it down to fate until I saw this thread and recognized some of the pictures, I too would like to know what may have happened here. The other ten bulbs of the same variety are odd shaped but they all have proper skins and don't have any extra bonus Cloves growing off the sides...

  • S-Ann Andy
    5 years ago

    I still haven't figured out what happened. Some are perfect but many just amaze me.

  • Mat Campbell
    4 years ago

    I have had this happen a number of times. This year I purchased some 'home grown' garlic late in planting season from eBay. When it arrived it appeared to me, to be imported garlic - shonky buggers!

    I have planted imported garlic previously and had this same strange growth pattern occur. I have two theories.

    1. The irradiation/fumigation imported garlic receives causes cellular damage/mutation. Hence mutant growth

    2. The change in hemispheres seasonal misalignment causes premature bolting prior to maturity.

    Anyway that's my two Bob. I have grown garlic for years on small and large scale.

  • zqnmegan
    4 years ago

    Mat, it can also occur if the garlic is chilled for too long prior to planting which is why it's not always a good idea to plant garlic bought from the supermarket. As you've found, it may have been imported and kept in cold storage. Extremes in weather and too much nitrogen are also contributory factors to witches brooming. There have been several research papers about the effects of day length and chilling periods on garlic growth but don't have the links on this computer - not organised enough to sync my bookmarks.

  • David Esdaile
    last month

    I'm a late-comer to this thread but you're all describing my experience in NSW this year, 2020. I don't need to add a photo because mine are exactly the same as dan_nz_gardener and S-Ann Andy. I've grown garlic for most of the last 20 or 30 years, usually from bulbs from the previous crop. I've mostly grown hardneck garlic and I've never seen this before. The differences this year: I bought Australian bulbs from Woolworths, softnecks rather than hardnecks, and planted them in April or May, heavily manured soil, a wet July following a very dry June, the papery cover over the bulb disintegrated during July leaving fine leaves growing through a papery tube. The leaves have been drying out over September, earlier than usual. The cloves I've harvested taste really good but I'm not going to try to store the dry bulbs. I'll freeze some and try to dehydrate the rest.

  • wcthomas
    last month

    I had one bulb this year that looked exactly like the one in the photos from S-Ann Andy above. First time in 45 years of growing garlic. The plant looked perfectly normal, like the rest in this bed where garlic was not grown in the previous two years. And when peeling the cloves I found 2-3 individual cloves inside like Ann. It was just one bulb out of 360 so no problem, just a curiosity. Garlic sometimes does strange things!

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Garlic responds to changes in the weather from season to season. The response can be cloves splitting (as in most of the photos above) or in the case of softneck varieties, the formation of stem cloves. It happens. Barring an exact repeat of conditions (highly unlikely) none of those oddities should carry over into the next season.

    I've just noticed that my link to the Heirloom Garlic Archive appears to have been lost. :-( That happened once before, when Jeff Nekola moved to another site. I'll try to post an update, if he is still posting that info elsewhere. Besides great photos & descriptions for many garlic varieties, it provided specific harvest tips for each garlic type.

  • OldDutch
    last month

    I will second the comments on the weather. We had a early heat wave this year, hot and dry in late spring. Harvest was early and even then I waited a bit too long on some of the hardnecks. Music especially had very few cloves but they were huge this year, lots of doubles and triples and many of them already loosing the outer wraps. The one turban and the one Asiatic went down early, but then they normally do anyway. Maiskij went heavily into singles, Japanese had fewer but larger than normal cloves. The purples and the rocomboles all were smaller than usual. The harvest was a bit odd this year. I still intend to plant back my larges cloves of each variety. I only had a few Armenians this year but a couple of the bulbs were very large.

    I guess I could say that each variety responded somewhat differently to this past growing season.

  • Beverley Rothwell
    last month

    What country are you in? I am growing garlic for the first time this year. I bought a box of white garlic (don't know what type) from a garlic farmer in NSW. I ate some, shared some and planted some. They are doing well and still growing. I had some garlic in my kitchen and it had been particularly delicious so planted the last four cloves in the garden along with my white ones. The white ones look very normal (as far as I can tell) but the purple ones are all blooming with several stalks which I guess is witches blooming. I pulled one up and used it on the weekend and it was absolutely DELICIOUS but looked like a bunch of spring onions. If this is the intro to home grown garlic I will never buy garlic again! I will grow it. Do you think the individual garlic strands will grow into something if I just leave them to mature more?


    Could be the result of all of the above. Thanks everyone for your input.


  • David Esdaile
    last month

    The bulbs will very likely continue to enlarge if you leave them, as long as they have had a decent cold spell during growth.

  • OldDutch
    last month

    LOL I am in Minnesota in the United States. A long way from NSW.

  • Beverley Rothwell
    29 days ago

    Just to further report on my garlic. I have picked the four purple garlic bulbs now. They developed separately and then started to die off. So I picked them and they are delicious to eat but do. not look like conventional garlic or the bulb they grew from. My white garlic continue to grow and haven't got to the picking stage just yet. Soon.