Again, summer is in full swing and the garlic patches are ready to be harvested. This year I have sown 3- 4×8 feet raised beds with first, second, and third year garlic at my community garden plot. The first year garlic are those grown from bulbils and produce no cloves, just a solid bulb resembling a marble. The second year garlic are mid-sized and have cloves. The third year crop is the conventional hardneck garlic bulb. All together, 160 bulbs.
Why do I grow garlic from seed and bulbils? Since garlic cloves have been planted for centuries in different types of soils all over the world, sometimes they contact pathogens and may not be as healthy as you would like them to be. Garlic grown from seeds or bulbils do not come in contact with any other soil but mine, and by using this technique, and my soil is healthy, I’m assured an organic, disease-free bulb. It takes three years to harvest full size bulbs when planting seeds or bulbils, but the experience makes the gardener understand how this plant grows. I grow hardneck garlic, which produces bulbils and comes from organic German stock. This variety is cold tolerant and ideal to grow in the Northeast.
Even though there was still a little green foliage on the plant, I pulled out a couple of bulbs last week to check on the progress, and found they are ready, which I harvested this morning. When harvesting white garlic, if the bulbs are pinkish it means it’s not mature, although, when left in the ground too long they may rot especially during wet seasons or in low areas.
Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian