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Harvesting garlic without the Delphic Oracle

Photo: Garlic drying in the sun

Photo: Garlic drying in the sun

The new laptop was sent to Cardiff by mistake. It should have arrived today. At least it will have toured some of the UK before we receive it on Monday and it enters a life with little rest.

Meanwhile I have harvested our garlic. I bought three succulent heads from The Garlic Farm (Isle of Wight). The company was showing at Hampton Court last summer. I dried the heads in our airy greenhouse and planted the cloves in our sunniest spot in late September. Apparently the winter frosts encourage better growth.

I need to keep a gardening diary as I can’t remember what the three varieties were. Goggling at their website, I think I bought Moldavian, Albigensian and Iberian. The latter must be the ones that are a bit bigger than the rest. Even though we didn’t achieve 5”, more 2.5”, we are delighted with of our harvest of 36 heads. Danny calls them “baby elephant garlic”.

They are drying in the greenhouse and I have racy plans for their future.

There was just one thing that was odd about several plants. Small clusters of a few garlic cloves were growing on the thick stems about two inches above the head.

Photo: Cloves appearing on the stems of garlic

Photo: Cloves appearing on the stems of garlic

I’ve never seen these before. Have they developed to produce a flower head?

Any guidance would be accepted with open arms as the Delphic Oracle still  languishes in Wales.

  Leave a reply


  1. The absolutely best way to keep garlic is in a clay flowerpot with the saucer serving as cover.
    I have several pots filled with garlic in my cold room and bring some up to keep in the kitchen in such a pot on the fridge. In this manner I kept my garlic fresh and lovely for over 9 months last year.

  2. cathy

    I think little cloves appear in the stems of softneck garlic, as opposed to on top, at the end of the scape, in a hard-necked garlic.

    Well done on your haul! Tonight I harvested a small, undeveloped garlic for our dinner. This is our second year at this, and I have high hopes for next year’s garlic.

  3. Tamar

    It was just this morning that I collected my garlic scapes, and wondered about the Mini-Me garlic bulbs growing out of the stems. Sheer coincidence that I stumbled on your blog this afternoon, and am no longer in the dark — bulbils!

    My husband and I are doing almost exactly what you’re doing (down to an uncanny similarity in blog descriptions), just on the other side of the Atlantic and several years behind. I believe we’re also beginning with fewer actual skills …

    Glad to have found you.

  4. S.o.L

    hey there also my elephant garlic has nodules on the botton that llok like chick peas. do you think I should replant these as well?

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Emma

    Thank you so much for your advice. We are going to plant them as per your advice!

    Hi Peter

    I have no idea.

    When I saw the scrapes I knew that it was time to harvest the bulbs. If you let them flower the heads suffer.

    However, I do remember that if you let a head flower and produce seed, you can plant the seed and produce garlic in two or three years.

    Hi S.O.L.

    Yes, like yo,u I’m delighted that these tiny bulbs are useable 😉

    Hi Margaret

    Well done! 49 heads is a triumph.

    I’m going to pickle some of the heads – to add to salads etc.

    I think that I might freeze some as well as garlic only seems to last for about four months in our kitchen.

  6. Margaret

    I grew garlic for the first time this year and harvest a magnificent 49 bulbs. I’m so pleased as hopefully it will last us the year.


    p.s. I didn’t know about those little bulbs either

  7. S.o.L

    wow how timely is this post of yours we thought we had mutant garlic, or the landscaping man had fallen on them and damaged them some how.

    cool, we will plant them, as in Emma’s comment above

  8. Peter

    I was wondering how to prepare the “scapes”, the curly bits that are growing at the top of my garlic. Any ideas? Thanks.

  9. They’re bulbils 🙂 You can eat them as small cloves. If you plant them, they will grow into an undivided bulb in their first year, then a normal garlic bulb in the second.

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