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Elephant Garlic from bulbils

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Habanerohead, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. Habanerohead

    Habanerohead Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi.
    I have loads of bulbils from this years crop of elephant garlic. They're as tough as nails, and I know that it can take a couple of years for them to germinate if they're just left in the soil, so I'm going to help them along by cracking the carapace(!). I'm not sure whether just cracking the coat will be enough though, because it won't have had time to soften, so I was wondering if it would be better to take the whole thing off.
    Anyone out there got any advice to offer?
    Cheers.
     
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    • Zigs

      Zigs Naughty Ginger Admin Staff Member

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      Welcome to Gardeners Corner :sign0016:

      @Scrungee's your man for that one :)
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Welcome to the forum.

      By "bulbils" do you mean the small offsets that grow in the ground? They are essentially small garlic cloves, they don't 'germinate' as such (only seeds germinate). You just plant them a couple of inches apart pointy end up, and grow them on. They will send up a new shoot naturally in late autumn or early spring if you plant now. Don't try cracking cloves or breaking them open that will kill them. It will take 2 or 3 years before they reach full size.
       
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        Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
      • Scrungee

        Scrungee Well known for it

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        I've found it best to get them straight back into the ground ASAP somewhere they will be undisturbed for few years. Replanting before they have a chance to dry will ensure a much better rate of sprouting.
         
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          Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
        • Steve R

          Steve R Soil Furtler

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          I've tried them before, putting straight back into the ground, many stay there anyway when I dig the bulbs up and I use the same bed year on year. Never had a sight of a shoot from them.

          I've tried planting them in rows in a nursery area, tried them in compost in pots/trays, both outside and under cover and with bottom heat too.

          Have tried soaking them first (like I do with pumpkin seeds), tried part and full peeling.

          In 5 or 6 years I have never had a sprout, so now I just plant cloves only.

          Steve...:)
           
        • Habanerohead

          Habanerohead Apprentice Gardener

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          Hi Guys.

          @Zigs - thanks for the welcome.
          @JWK - thanks for putting me straight re:germination

          When I first started at the allotment there were quite a few elephants which appeared at random locations. I assume that they were bulbils that had sprouted, but I know that some of them must have been in the ground for at least 3 years. I first planted my own a couple of years ago, and had a good harvest with plenty of bulbils, which I soaked and planted last season, along with some bought cloves. It was another good harvest. Unfortunately I didn't make a note of where I planted what, but there were definitely more plants than I bought so some of them must have made it.
          I'll be buying some again this year, but as the bulbils don't cost anything, I guess they're worth a punt - I'll just try and be more organised and make a note of the success rate.

          Cheers,
          Andy.
           
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          • JWK

            JWK Gardener

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            Hi @Habanerohead, as you say you have nothing to lose by trying as they cost nothing. That's the great thing about allotments having the space to experiment.
             
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            • Steve R

              Steve R Soil Furtler

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              From what I remember reading a few years back, the bulblis would first need to grow into "rounds" which are roughly golfball size or bigger, then those rounds then get frosted which they need to split and form cloves.

              Those bulblis you planted last season would not have grown to full size and been harvestable in one year. They would need to be growing now with visible shoots and the underground part would have to be a decent size to get frosted in the coming months, to enable harvest next year at the earliest.

              Steve...:)
               
            • Habanerohead

              Habanerohead Apprentice Gardener

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              @Steve - thanks for that useful bit of info. The crop did vary in size quite a lot. My garlic shows the same variation so I just assumed that you get good 'uns and not so good 'uns but now I know better - they were harvested before their prime.
              I'm reluctant to keep my garlics in the same spot for successive seasons as they tend to get a lot of rust and soft neck rot, but actually the elephants don't seem as prone so I'll try to sort out a separate semi-permanent home for them.
              Cheers,

              Andy.
               
            • Habanerohead

              Habanerohead Apprentice Gardener

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              Hi all.
              Update on bulbils - planted 2 lots. One lot I just planted. I stripped the shells off the other lot before planting.
              1 germination in the lot with the coats on, but almost 100% germination with the ones I stripped.
              Cheers,
              Andy.
               
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              • WeeTam

                WeeTam Total Gardener

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                Thanks for that. I tried again this year. 2 trays, hundreds of the damned bulbils planted and got nadda.

                Will give it one last go this year with the shells removed. Cheers.
                 
              • JWK

                JWK Gardener

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                I must admit I was sceptical when you first posted about this last October @Habanerohead so you have proved me wrong, thanks it's always good to learn something new. I shall try your method this year :blue thumb:
                 

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