Planting small garlic cloves?

franktank232(z5 WI)September 19, 2011

Here is a pic. I'm tempted to plant these smaller cloves. These were the biggest cloves from the smaller bulbs. The bigger cloves were from big bulbs. I'm going to start planting any day now (along with tulip bulbs which i mix in with garlic to give a little color). Will this just result in smaller plants/smaller bulbs next summer? Is there a limit to how small you want to set out? I have a lot of bulbs (probably had 50 plants this year), so should be able to up my planting to near 100.

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jonhughes(So.Oregon)

Hi Franktank,
First off....put your shoes on ;-)
Then, plant away, sure, they are going to be smaller (they are themselves clones of their predecessors, so what, they are still awesome, and they come with characteristics that are unique to them,bigger isn't necessarily better (except when it comes to me ;-)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:36PM
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glib(5.5)

Sure, plant them. There will be one more selection next year. My hardneck, over time, has started to give me inner layer cloves in the larger seed bulbs, which, being squeezed between outer cloves, tend to be small. I still plant every clove from a given bulb. I figure that the small cloves have the same genes as the larger ones. If the selection is based on genes, it will work fine. If it is based on size, I will eat them.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:42PM
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denninmi(8a)

They grow. Last year, all of the little tiny bulbils that dropped from the scapes grew. Now, they are coming up again, and have grown from about the size of a baby aspirin to about dime sized. I imagine next summer they will be small but decent heads of garlic.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:00PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

If I use a lot of the smaller cloves, I should have a lot of plants next spring. I've been trying to build up a good stockpile, without having to buy more.

Got to love growing garlic. By far my easiest plant to grow.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:45PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Clove size is relative. Some vars have smaller cloves than others. Simply plant the largest cloves from that particular var. Make sure you grow enough hardnecks for your scape needs next year.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:57PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I've always heard if you want large bulbs, plant large cloves!JMHO! Nancy

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 10:58PM
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GarlicFiend

Ron England, author of the fantastic "Growing Great Garlic" did some studies and found that:

Ron England reports that his experiments show the size of the seed head is more important than the size of the clove.

Specifically, two cloves of the same size and weight did not result in the same size head unless they both came from the same size seed head.

His experiments showed that seedhead size was 8 times more significant than clove size.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 3:54PM
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glib(5.5)

So what I am doing is right. It is easiest too. Pick the largest bulb, plant everything, big and small.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:10PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

First, GGG AFAICT only does small tests with one or two vars. You want a consensus of opinion and well-done studies.

Nonetheless, our basic botany tells us that our overall growth comes from the leaves. Larger cloves have more energy reserve and have a greater chance of making more leaves. We want to choose the largest cloves for the best chance. Of course, if that clove is from a small, sickly head we naturally want to avoid the chance of getting a small head so we skip that one. I set aside good-looking heads for seed garlic, then I choose the largest cloves from those heads.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:56PM
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glib(5.5)

I tend to believe it. A garlic clove has a tiny fraction (I am guessing 2 or 3%) of the energy of a mature plant. It seems reasonable that genes and growing conditions will dominate. In other words, if you model the growth as exponential, the clove size controls the constant multiplying the exponential, but genes and growing conditions control the exponential parameter.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:28PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Please help science people, I'm confused again! Every time I think I've got my head round this business...
For eg: my friend planted cloves from large, healthy bulbs last season. The resulting bulbs were small, I think due to insufficient water, fertiliser and lifting them too early.
Bulbs that are small due to various physical, rather than genetic factors, should still have the genetics for large, healthy bulbs next season, right?
I'm assuming that repeatedly planting (environmentally) stunted garlic will result in selection for negative traits, but in the short-term, it shouldn't?
It seems to me that basing my judgements purely on visual, rather than genetic factors is risking some sort of Lamarckean misunderstanding of evolution. Or something.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:33PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

if you model the growth as exponential,

Well, I'd model it on a logistic curve, but still. ;o)

I'm assuming that repeatedly planting (environmentally) stunted garlic will result in selection for negative traits

Well, this is asexual reproduction so no genes are exchanging. Nonetheless, if the cloves have inadequate storage products your next year's crop has a good chance to be poor as well. They will express the traits they are 'programmed' to express in the given conditions.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:52PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

Feijoas -

While the genes of the garlic will be the same, the epigenetics (which genes are turned on or off) *could* be changed in one season. Lifting the cloves early wouldn't matter much but the influence of drought or fertilizer could. It may be a subtle change and not matter much in one year. Or it could be something that influences the following year (better growth in drought). Something interesting that is coming up in research now is that epigenetic changes might be the precursors of a genetic change such as a mutation, especially in clonal populations.

Epigenetics is a rather cool area of science.

Hope that helps more than confuses,
Bellatrix

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 2:12PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Thanks guys, that all makes sense. Hopefully my friend gets a good crop this season, before there's much in the way of permanent...epigenic...effects!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:32AM
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