August 25th - This week, I ordered some garlic bulbils from the Seeds of Diversity garlic collection. They keep a collection of dozens of heirloom varieties are seek growers throughout the country who will grow out these varieties and report back as to which varieties did well in their region.
An excerpt from the Garlic Collection section of their website:
Seeds of Diversity's Great Canadian Garlic Collection is a national project that explores and documents the many varieties of garlic grown in Canada.
There are well over 100 varieties of garlic that are suited to Canadian growing conditions. Our goal is to grow as many varieties as possible in all of Canada's major agricultural areas and to record their success and characteristics. The collected information will be posted to our web site for use by all. In 2014 we harvested 153 different varieties.
Garlic grows differently in different climates. Some varieties have particular colours, shapes or other characteristics in certain areas of the country, but not in others. For instance, some varieties grow scapes in the east but not in the west. Some have a purple or red colour when grown in certain climates, but are white elsewhere. More importantly, some varieties grow better than others in different regions.
In this month's newsletter, they wrote that they have over 30 varieties available this Fall. For a $10 shipping fee, they send at least bulbils of 5 varieties to anyone interested in growing them. The catch? It takes 2-3 years before full-grown garlic can be harvested (as opposed to being able to harvest garlic yearly when planting cloves). Seeds of Diversity has written a really good article about how to grow bulbils.
Beyond knowing that hardneck varieties do well in zone 2a, I do not know much about different types of garlic. I asked them to select some varieties they felt might do well in this gardening zone. We'll see what arrives!
September 21st - My garlic bulbils arrived today. I am glad I placed my order early, as the note that was enclosed with the bulbils stated that Seeds of Diversity had an overwhelming response to their offer and that their supply ran out in only a few days. The varieties they sent me are Siberian, Central Siberian, Kiev (same as Kyjev?), Brown Tempest, and Baba Franchuk's. I'll have to work up a spot in the garden so I can plant my pots of bulbils in the ground in the next week.
September 25th - The garlic bulbils (in pots) were planted in the north garden. I also planted two rows of garlic cloves (Red Russian and Northern Quebec). The pots and cloves were covered with leaf mulch and grass clippings. Nice and cozy for the cold weather ahead!
Baba Franchuk’s – large bulbilsKiev – medium bulbils
Central Siberian – medium bulbils
Siberian – small bulbils
Brown Tempest – very small bulbils
May 2017 (Update)
We had a relatively mild winter. Most of the snow we had fell in March/April. The first three weeks of May have been mainly cool and overcast, with lots of rain.
May 1–15 Kiev (about half that I received have germinated), Baba Franchuk's (several have germinated; these look robust), a few Siberian and a few Central Siberian have germinated. None of the Brown Tempest bulbils have germinated. I planted quite a few, but the Brown Tempest bulbils were very small. Perhaps most of them rotted in the soil
May 22 - One of the Brown Tempest bulbils has germinated. Better than none at all!
I am glad I followed the planting recommendations outlined on the Seeds of Diversity site. The growth that has emerged from the bulbils does look and feel exactly like blades of grass. It would be difficult to know what to pluck out and what to leave if they were planted directly in the garden.