Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Video with the Stratford Garlic Festival

This Summer the Stratford Kiwanis Garlic Festival was looking for Vendors to participate in creating a short promotional video for the Festival. It was great fun to have Elizabeth Kerr and Scott Wishart come out to the Farm to shoot this little film, I hope you enjoy watching it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB87ew1IF5Q

It features myself and the garlic in our 2017, 1/2 acre plot.
You can also see the bulbil plants that I grew this year as part of an on-going seed renewal, and a small part of where we dry the garlic and store the garlic, inside a re-purposed granary in our 1911 bank barn.  -  Julie

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Garlic and It's Many Flavours

  I've been thinking about this story lately, and just wanted to share it:

  My older sister Sheri, who used to partner with me in growing the garlic, was going on a trip over to Germany with her boyfriend last November, to visit his family there. As they were weighing their backpacks for the airport, I went and got a couple jars of the garlic powder that I make. Not being able to travel with them, I wanted to at least be a small part of their trip, in the gifts they could share with the people they met.

  Thousands of years ago, travelers would carry garlic bulbs in their packs and trade them up and down the silk road, spreading new varieties of garlic throughout Europe. Following this tradition, but also respecting Airport security, a couple jars of my dried powder got nestled safely into Sheri's pack.

  After Germany, my sister and her boyfriend Tobias, toured eleven other countries in Europe, and at the end of their trip, flew out to the Spanish Island of Mallorca, where the sub-tropical climate had everything lush and green, with olives and oranges growing even at the start of January.

  One of the places they visited there was the home of a farmer and garlic grower. With her last bottle of garlic powder, Sheri traded some goodwill. She told me later that this fellow was fervently happy to receive, "Canadian Garlic!" He lifted the lid to gasp in delight at the sharp smell of it. Canadian garlic, he said, is so much stronger and more flavourful than what he can grow in Mallorca. He was a BC resident of Grand Forks, before moving to Mallorca, and missed the taste of home.

  Making this kind of connection with someone like that, I felt, was the best part of their trip, though Sheri raised a bemused eyebrow at me when I told her so. Sheri couldn't tell me what variety Sky was growing in Mallorca, but I can imagine that whatever kind it was, it just didn't get the right winter dormancy and probably had a whole different soil composition effecting the flavour.

  In Canada we grow many varieties that are both strong and flavourful, including Porcelain types, Purple Stripes and Rocamboles. Our cold winters and warm summers, and good soils make up for the rest of it.
  In Cuba, I've heard, it is hard for farmers to grow garlic bulbs much bigger than a golf ball, though the tiny cloves are greatly priced by the locals. They owe this mostly to their lack of winter weather, or so I'm led to believe.
  Personally, I have always been a little jealous of Spain and France, for that area of mainland Europe can grow massive bulbs of Creole garlic. I have been in love with creole garlic ever since I've read Filaree Farm's description of that variety in their catalogue. Now that I have acquired twelve creole strains to grow myself, I've nick-named them "pearls of the earth"; because they are special, with their pearly sheen and long keeping abilities; but also because they are quite small in size.
  There are other varieties that I grow in Ontario, without much success, that grow really well in other parts of the world. So isn't garlic fantastic! It has travelled with people almost everywhere they have gone on the globe, and as a species, calls many many places home.

  So what makes garlic flavourful?

  Well, sulphur is one of the most important elements of flavour in garlic (and other alliums). We see this most clearly in the story of Vidalia onions, those large, sweet baseballs that are only available in season. True Vidalias are grown in Vidalia, Georgia, where the low sulphur content of the soil accounts for the mild flavour of the variety. The sweetness, really, is there all along, Vidalias may have more of it than most kinds, but all garlic and onions have a high content of sugars in their bulbs, to help with freezing and over wintering, you just can't taste it because of the heat that so often accompanies and overpowers that sweetness. Notice too, that Vidalia oinions, and most other sweet varieties of onion, do not keep as well as cooking onions. This is also an effect of sulphur. Low sulphur content in the onion bulb, or garlic clove, can be a major contributing factor to poor storage quality.
  Elemental Sulphur requires biological soil life to convert it into a sulphate before it can be used by plants. I work with a crop and livestock consultant, who told me that other consultants in the States recommend almost twice the amount of sulphur be put on the fields as a mineral amendment, than what he would suggest for Ontario. The reason being that in southern climates, the soil life is active for a longer period of time than it is for us in Canada. The soil life uses that much more sulphur (and other minerals) for every growing season, as well as possibly getting more soil leaching from high rainfall. I imagine that if sulphur is not a priority in the fertilizer, one could get sulphur deficient soils much more easily in sub-tropical climates, and consequently, produce a milder, sometimes poorly flavoured garlic.

  It is not just sulphur though. Garlic, with it's high sugar content, and coarse root structure, relies quite heavily on soil life to make nutrients available to the growing plant. It needs certain things like Phosphorus, for energy and boron for making sugar, and the whole plethora of trace minerals to give it depth of flavour and keeping quality. Flavour is one of the most complex aspects of plant genetics, and no one has quite figured it out, but we do have a starting point.

  For an experiment I tested some garlic leaves for a few basic minerals last year. One batch was from heathy plants, and one from plants that were not doing so well, and were going to be culled soon. Here were the results:


Heathy Plants:                                              Unhealthy Plants:
80.2 % Moisture                                           81.0% Moisture  
19.8 % Dry Matter                                       19.0% Dry Matter
On a Dry Basis:                                             On a Dry Basis:
1.78% Calcium                                             2.25% Calcium

0.44% Phosphorus                                        0.32% Phosphorus

0.33% Magnesium                                        0.23% Magnesium

1.09% Potassium                                          1.37% Potassium

0.01% Sodium                                              0.01% Sodium

0.32% Sulfur                                                0.29% Sulfur

31 ppm Iron                                                  38 ppm Iron                                            

32 ppm Zinc                                                  23 ppm Zinc

10 ppm Copper                                              8 ppm Copper

15 ppm Manganese                                       13 ppm Manganese

4 ppm Molybdenum                                       2 ppm Molybdenum


  Samples were taken of the top leaf of numerous plants, cut and tested in mid June. As you can see, Calcium and Potassium are higher on the Unhealthy test, but almost all the of the other minerals are lower. It actually has a less balanced mineral profile, which may be a big part of flavour as well.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Weeds are not Wonderful

Garlic cloves are a bit like tulip bulbs; they show up right away and grow rapidly in the spring. They are fast and frost hardy, and nothing stands in their way...except... yes, weeds.
 Garlic is very sensitive to weed pressure. Garlic leaves are narrow and they don't provide enough shade for a ladybug to hide in, which means that they have no real chance of out-competing broad leaf weeds, and really, any type of weed. Garlic has it's ancestry in the central region of Asia, in semi-desert lands, where competition to thrive happens with the sun and weather, not your neighbors. So the texture of a garlic leaf is thick and waxy, with a narrow shape that avoids too much contact with the sun. All traits that enhance moisture conservation. However, garlic grown for the garden or market really does do better with adequate moisture. The difficulty this year is getting moisture and not too much moisture. We've been lucky there, but many of our neighbors have not been so fortunate lately.

  On our clay soil we can't get out and till the ground or hoe weeds when it's wet, and even if we could, you would be surprised at how resilient a 1 inch tall broadleaf weed can be when it doesn't have dry soil and a hot sun beating down on it.  They come back to life!
  A similar thing can be said about large weeds that are just starting to set seed pods. At our place, we've found that it's best to break the weed stalks in a few places, or cut the top off with a hoe, otherwise they use what juice is left in the stalk to complete the task of making viable seed. You see them laying there between the rows, and even though you got them with the hoe the head is turned up to the sun.
  Managing weeds organically has been our focus for the last twenty years, however, and if you have somebody in your team (as we do) who is super ingenious and smart about setting up and maintaining the cultivators, scufflers (row cultivators) tine weeders etc, and managing their timely use, twenty years certainly pays off.

Here I am scuffling the garlic with a John Deere 40 and  the scuffler that  my father  Rob set up.
This was May 15, 2017

  We call it managing the "weed bank", which is our term to express the quota of weed seed in any given soil. Someone with a high weed bank will get an instant carpet of weeds after every spring rain. Someone with a low weed bank will see individual weeds as a threat.
  Every weed that is allowed to go to seed adds tremendously to the weed seed account, meaning that to maintain a low weed bank takes constant care. You can actively reduce the weed seed bank by short-period tillage, throughout the spring and summer. Keep this tillage shallow, for annual weeds, and it stimulates the germination of more weeds that can then be gotten. Germinate and expire at least 1000 more weeds than the ones you allow to go to seed, and you've reduced the weed bank for that growing season. It's a way of thinking. And believing in causality is part of it: if the crops are growing - weeds are growing. Count on it. If you cant see them yet, tickle the ground anyway (whether it be with a tractor-drawn unit or a hand held hoe) invariably, if you look close enough, you will see tiny filaments of tender white sprouts in the ruffled-up soil - these are weeds when its easiest to manage them. Just that simple disturbance is all that's needed to stop them. Don't wait if you have the chance to get in your field and do something about weeds, my father usually does a 5 - 10 day interval on his row crops, such as soybeans and corn. Sometimes missing an opportunity these days, means two weeks later it's still too wet to get on the field, and two weeks is a lot of time for weeds to get out of control. The ideal time to weed in any situation, is when the weeds you can see are less than 1/2 inch tall. (1 cm).
Shallow, weed killing tillage can also reduce moisture loss through the dry spells. (Not applicable if you've mulched.) The loose ground on the top 1-2 inches, created by shallow tillage, actually insulates the ground below. Soil that has been rained on thoroughly, but with no sitting water, develops capillary action through the entire top layer, meaning there are pathways for water and air to travel freely in vertical directions. Breaking the very top layer of the soil, cuts off those pathways and keeps the ground from drying out at the surface. This is one reason old organic farmers have the saying "a scuffling is as good as a rain". Another reason they say it, is that soil biology, that is active in the summer, breathes as is metabolizes. Rain water is it's lungs. As water drips into the soil capillaries, it creates movement that draws fresh air in after it. Long periods without rain can deprive the soil life of oxygenated air, making soil life go dormant, and stalling the crop. Tillage can put air into the soil to revive it. Tillage can also be used in waterlogged situations, where water has been sitting too long, and has developed a crust that not air can penetrate. As soon as it's dry enough, go in with deep points (not broad sweeps or wide bladed tools) and get air into the soil. Your crop will thank you.

This picture was taken July 13th, 2017. This is my crop. The plot is 1/2 an acre, 110 different garlic strains (you can only really see Polish Hardneck and Leningrad in this pic). It was scuffled once in the fall, once in the spring, and hand weeded at least  twice. Garlic is hard to scuffle late in season, because the leaves are susceptible to cracking, and unlike some other crops, they do not grow new leaves to compensate for the loss.
One of the reasons I use single, 30 inch rows is because double rows are too hard to weed. With singles I can use machinery to get 80% of the weeds.

To conclude, I wish you all well with your crop, and congratulate you for the hard work I know it to be. What I find special about farming is that every person and every soil has their unique system of what works best for them. Sharing is how we develop perspective, and garner new ideas.
Garlicky Regards, Julie

Friday, 12 August 2016

Catalogue Coming Soon...

Well, we are back in business this year! We've grown a little less, so more strains will be available by the bulb only. My Price this year is $16.00/ lb, $3.50/bulb. I am also making bulbil seed available for the first time on the catalogue. Not everything on the catalogue will be available as bulbil seed, but quite a few strains are. A package of two capsuls (umbels or seed heads) is $5.00.
Looking forward to starting the season off soon! I hope to send the Catalogue out on Monday the 15th. Until then, Post any comments, and you can also reach me at goldenacresfarm@hotmail.com. Please be patient if I don't get back to you right away - I'm busy getting bulbs trimmed and cared for, as well as finishing the catalogue. Cheers, Julie

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Bettering the Odds on Fall Emergence

So, we've had an interesting Autumn here in the Stratford area. Very warm for a long time. The snow did not even stick around much after Christmas. I am sure some of us garlic growers are concerned about those green shoots emerging in pretty little rows across the garlic plot. Is it spring already, the garlic is asking?
Did we get planted too soon?
Well, above-ground growth in garlic plants in Autumn-Winter is not a flag ship for disaster, at least not here, and not if the leaves are only about four to six inches (10 - 15 cm).

One thing that I have noticed with different varieties is that the ones that have a shorter storage potential are the first to come up in the fall if it stays warm. For example, Turbans (the variety that usually only keeps for 2 months until they start sprouting), and Rocamboles ( they usually dry out clove by clove by the new year, and easily start putting out roots and/or shoots if they get even a whiff of cold while in storage). Strains from those two types are invariably among the first to poke out of the ground, from what I've observed in my informal trials, year after year.
If you can, and if you are concerned about it, planting those varieties last, or as late as possible, is one way to even the playing field on fall emergence.

 Golden Acres Farm has nice clay loam soil, which is fairly heavy if you don't know how to manage it (or can't because of weather and timing).The advantages of clay include a bigger holding capacity of cation minerals due to the negative (anion) charge in fine clay particles. Clay also makes it easier to build and maintain organic matter in the soil, and helps to regulate soil moisture during drought periods. The down side is that if you miss the planting window for garlic in the fall, you usually don't get much of a second chance where the soil gets dry enough. For those of you who have sand, and don't understand the problem, let me help you - I'm a farmer, not a brick layer, and I prefer my soil loose and permeable. Lumpy makes me grumpy.
We usually plant our garlic earlier than our neighbors because we are especially involved with the concept that soil matters. Most would say we plant too soon.

 In 2007 we planted a fair-sized plot, and because we were upping our amounts, we got seed from another grower. Our start date for planting was September 18, and we planted most of the plot in four days (except for some gift seed, new varieties we only just received in October).
So, fall was like this: warm then cool, and often sunny. On October 21, daytime temp was in the low twenties (Celsius), a week later it had frosted overnight. I walked out and accessed the growth. I could see very distinctly that only certain kinds had come up, mainly Rocamboles, a group who's early growth I understood instinctively, because that variety has poor natural dormancy. Another way to put it is that Rocamboles have evolved and adapted to respond immediately to temperature fluctuation, by growing.
 The other garlic strains that had come up were more perplexing; a Porcelain and a Marbled Purple Stripe, two varieties that usually have very good storage potential. They were also only up on some rows, and not others. The answer became more obvious when I noticed that it was the rows from outsourced seed that were 4 - 6 inches out of the ground. Those same strains of Porcelain and Marbled Purple Stripe planted from our own seed were still safely tucked in the ground.
I had known that the grower we got seed from stored his garlic in a non-insulated garage, and I saw him leave boxes of it in the sun for a period of time, something that we were always particular not to do, because we didn't want to break the dormancy of our seed, in case we ended up selling some of it as eating garlic.
 After that year we had a new reason to keep our garlic seed warm (generally above 10 Celsius) and out of the sun - from that point on we understood that we were manipulating the dormancy period so that we could plant earlier if we had to.
  As a practice it is not fool proof, but even delaying "up-stairs" growth so that the leaves are shorter come snowfall or freeze-off, may help if you get caught with a warm autumn.

That being said, above-ground growth did not show up as a reason for yield loss on our harvest that year, even though some plants were 4 - 6 inches tall in the fall. The stem of a garlic plant stays protected underground all through the growing period, and new leaves will appear from the stem in spring. The main issue is energy loss, and a little of that may be recouped by the energy that the leaves gather while they are there in the fall. So if you see the little green rows out there, don't panic. There's no point anyway, 'cause there was nothing you could do. (Unless you mulched with straw (or a similar natural material, and not black plastic) right after planting, which does help moderate the effect of sun and temperature, like an insulating blanket over the rows.)

And remember, "Better Late than Never" is not the best adage for garlic planting either. Sometimes late planting (November/December) doesn't allow enough time for the garlic to set roots and establish its self, leading to discouragingly small bulbs at harvest.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Harvesting Garlic

As harvest time approaches, I always find it is a good idea to review my garden journals and see what methods I can improve upon this year.  Even for experienced growers, choosing the time of harvest can be tricky to get right.  Turbans are the first garlic I lift, and invariably, I'll be too eager to dig up those first bulbs.  Or, I'll forget that they might have been ready last week, rush out once I've looked at the notes from last year, and find that they wont be ready yet for another week.  There really is a window of only a few days in which to harvest with perfect success, so you have to be very watchful within that late July time period.

  How do you choose the right time?  The leaves are a perfect indication. As energy moves to the bulb, the leaves loose that expensive biological molecule, chlorophyll, and turn yellow. The leaves also loose moisture and other nutrients, and begin to dry down.  I stick by a guideline of 50% dry and yellowing leaves, and 50% of leaves that are still green. It will look more like 40% yellow/brown to 60% green in the field, because the drying leaves loose volume and visual presence.  A good way is to count the leaves.  A large bulb may have 8- 10 leaves, and be ready to dig when 3- 4 of those leaves are dry, and one is yellowing.  When in doubt, err on the green side of 50-50; that way you'll ensure that you have enough bulb wrappers to clean off, without stripping the bulb. 

Freshly dug Porcelain garlic.

   Each leaf is the out-grown portion of one bulb wrapper, and the wrappers start to decay as they dry down, especially in moist or wet soil.  Therefore, the number of green leaves on the plant at harvest time is a reasonable indication of how many wrappers will be left after cleaning.  The actual time of harvest can vary quite a bit, year-to year, depending on weather patterns.  2012 was warm early in spring and dry through the summer, so our garlic harvest was two weeks early that year.  In contrast, 2014 was at least a week late, due to a slow start in spring, and a cool summer with adequate moisture (sometimes more like aquatic moisture). I estimate that our 2015 harvest may be similarly late, based on the time of the scape maturity of each variety. Compared to last year, they are quite close in timing.

 Another  factor effecting the time of harvest is the size of the plants/bulbs.  Small plants have fewer leaves, and will be ready a little sooner than large bulbs of the same strain.
  Dig too soon, and the bulb will not be well developed, and may have a decreased storage potential. Remember, the cloves fill out right at the end of growth. As an experiment, try digging just one bulb when everything is still green, and slice horizontally through the bottom off the bulb. You'll see small, under-sized buds of developing cloves nestled within lots of thick, succulent layers of wrapping, even on a full-size, otherwise ordinary plant. The drying down process is an indication that the energy of the plant is returning to the bulb, and cloves, and you do not want to interrupt this process until the balance is just right. Certain varieties do develop cloves faster, and will have firm, filled-out cloves even when all the leaves are still green, (mainly Turbans). I suspect that others, including Marbled Purple Stripes, and possibly the later types, tend to have slow bulb development, and cannot afford to be rushed.  
  However, if you dig too late, the wrappers start to split, and the keeping quality is past its peak. As soon as the wrapped cloves are exposed to air, you have roughly one or two months to use them up. 
  Dig when the whole plant is dry, and you won't have to peel the cloves, but you may have to wash them. The bulbs will have started to open to the soil, with the bare cloves pushing out from the center like the opening petals of a flower. They do this in preparation for next season's growth, giving each other as much space as they can, as they individuate from the parent bulb. They'll have very little storage value at this point. 
  If this makes it sound too hard to grow garlic, don't worry, harvesting nice bulbs it is not that difficult if you check the garlic plot regularly during that critical time frame.  Also, garlic bulbs for the home gardener can afford to be "creatively appealing", and still receive a warm welcome into the kitchen.  The best way to get a feeling for garlic harvest is simply to do it.  Your own experience is very valuable, as each gardener's system, and each variety, growing in a specific type of soil, will have subtle nuances of variability.

Each garlic strain likes to live in it's own special time, but many of the strains that belong to one variety will have matching clocks, and be ready to harvest at the same time. Here is a basic guide:
Turban - June 25 - July 10.  Dig a little sooner than the 50-50 guide, as the wrappers split open easily and the cloves are developed early anyway.
Asiatic  - July 1 - July 15.
Artichoke - July 10 - July 20.  As a softneck, some of the plants may also fall over, like onions do, just before you'll want to dig them - this is another indicator of harvest time.
Creole - July 10 - July 20.  I expect that in more Mediterranean climates, harvest would be later, owing to a larger bulb size.  Few Creoles grow really well in Ontario, but they are so beautiful, and keep so well.
Rocambole - July 10 - July 30.  These you have to be especially careful with, because the bulb wrappers won't take extra moisture at senescence.  Some strains can be a lot later than others.
Purple Stripe - July 10 - July 25.
Glazed Purple Stripe - July 15 - July 25.
Porcelain  - July 15 - August 1. These I find are pretty durable in moist soils, and the wrappers don't split open too quickly.
Marbled Purple Stripe - July 20 - August 5. Wet weather can be disastrous for this variety, as the necks are susceptible to rotting. You may want to salvage them early, if you see a problem developing. 
Silver Skin  August 1 - August 25.  Smaller bulbs may be earlier. This is a softneck type, and some of the plants may fall over close to harvest.

This is the unit we use to undercut the garlic. The red attachment has heavy blades
that slice through the soil below the bulbs, followed by steel fingers that lift and loosen.
If we get good, dry weather afterwards, we can leave the garlic like this for about three days
 before pulling it up and drying it in the barn. This can be accomplished on a small scale
 using a shovel, and just popping the soil under the bulb. Leave the bulb underground,
 otherwise the cloves will get green tips from the sun, and may heat up more than is
healthy for them. The ground acts as an insulator from light and heat, and allows us to
 vent off a little of the moisture from the plant, before it all goes inside.  
 The leaves on this Romanian Red garlic have turned mostly yellow
because they were undercut a few days before this picture was taken.
At this point I am pulling them up, cleaning them by rubbing off the dirt,
 and gathering them up to finish curing in the barn.
This is not how the plant should look if it were fresh dug,
and just being harvested.  The only reason the leaves are
 as yellow as they are, is because the roots were broken at the time
of undercutting, and that induced the plant to dry down more rapidly.  

Monday, 15 June 2015

Scapes: When to make The Cut.


A picture says a thousand words, so I'll use both here, and hope that I am not getting too wordy. Porcelains are the most fun to watch, and most Ontarians are familiar with them, so that is the example I've chosen:

 The Porcelain scapes here are newly emerged, just starting to loop, and are not yet ready to be cut. 
Note how slender the whole scape is at this point. The nascent umbel, (where the scape is white and the spathe attaches to the flowerstalk) is barely burgeoning with growth. As the scape matures, and the bulbils and flowers become more developed, the umbel swells inside the spathe, and for the varieties that do not coil, this is the way to tell when they are mature enough to cut. You can also tell by the flowerstalk: at first it is very tender, and then it becomes more fibrous and stiff. 
 Cutting too soon stalls the root and underground stem in their effort to push energy up into the plant. It causes the leaves to dry down a little earlier than they otherwise would, and it leaves the cloves with less quality, so that they will not keep as well in storage.   You see, all plants go through stages, and at this point in its life, the energy in a garlic plant is expanding, building, and travelling upwards. Later, in the last days of July, or whenever it starts to dry down, a garlic plant's energy is contracting, and travelling down to the bulb. That is when all of this spring/summer energy returns to the bulb (the engine of the plant), and rapidly fills out the cloves. The energy that was going to the umbel becomes stored energy in the clove. If you cut the scape too soon, you shorten the plant's energy cycle. 
But you do need to cut, otherwise the plant has two "reproductive nodes" where energy is going, and the divided energy may not be as sufficient as you want it to be for the bulb size. Especially on Porcelains, and any of the other varieties that put out a tall flowerstalk and tons of bulbils and flowers.   




                                        
This is a perfect, double loop, pretzel shape. 
We see this shape on Porcelains, Rocamboles, Glazed Purple Stripes and sometimes Marbled Purple Stripes. This is a fine time to cut, especially if you want to eat the scapes, or if you are really worried about your soil fertility, and do not want the scape to take any more energy away from the bulb. 
Make your cut a few inches above the last leaf.
If you look closely, there is something strange and wonderful about the Porcelain plants in this picture.

Leave the scape past the pretzle shape, and it starts to unwind. It is not too late to scape at this stage. In fact, I would call this perfect timing, because I am not concerned about eating the scape, and I want that flowerstalk nice and developed. Once, years ago, we cut our scapes too soon, and the stalk shrunk, leaving a hole in the top of the plant for rain water to run in.
Murphy's law, it was a very wet season that year. 
We lost plenty of garlic to neck rot.  



 Porcelains unwinding further... 
It is now getting quite late to cut them.
This all happens within a matter of days,
so it is important to keep and eye on them 
after they are coiled.

Porcelains take many shapes as they prepare to straighten out.
The thing is, you may not be too late if you see this in your garden,
I have harvested large bulbs from plants that were allowed to
completely mature with the scape on. I used them as show bulbs
for the Stratford Garlic Festival. 
Or, if you want to try bulbils, you can leave a few of these on to mature.
Just be careful that they do not plant themselves all over your garden. 
If you are not up to planting bulbil yet, you can always use them as garlic mints.
Happy chewing! 

Rocambole, Glazed purple Stripe, and off in the distance, a few tall Porcelains. 
If you haven't seen it before, this is what it looks like when you let things go. 
Luckily I have the excuse that I am saving these bulbil heads for seed. 
It had nothing to do with inattention....

Rocambole scapes ready to be cut.
Be very careful about leaving any cut scapes lying around, 

because they can finish putting on bulbils, even after 
they are cut. Rocamboles are especially good at this,
 the bulbils develop really fast, and then, look out for next year!

 
Marbled Purple Stripes are not totally loopy!
But they usually do make a full circle, some other
varieties do not. I'd be cutting this one very soon.


Purple Stripes. 
It is rare that they do any more looping 
than this, so it is important to develop a
 feel for how mature the scapes of each 
variety look at different times.
These Purple Stripes will be scaped very soon.