A few weeks ago, some of the staff at UBC Botanical Garden had a discussion on the differences between the terms “bulbils” and “bulblets”, so it was timely that Ann sent along this photograph. Most online resources equate the two terms, but if someone wants to make a compelling case that each means something distinctive in the comments, feel free!
The bulbils or bulblets on this garlic scape are small vegetative (i.e., clonal) propagules. Instead of using bulbils, most garlic plants are propagated via separating a head of garlic into its cloves and planting each of these. Over the growing season, each clove will generate one to many additional heads of garlic. While this is the quickest way to bulk up a garlic crop, it comes with the disadvantage of possibly harbouring soil-borne diseases. Bulbils don’t have that disadvantage. Since they are also vegetative clones, bulbils will also eventually produce garlic heads and cloves identical to the parent plant. However, it has been noted that the suppression of disease transference by using bulbils may produce healthier plants overall, “rejuvenating” the strain or cultivar. Experimentally testing this was/is the goal of the Bulbil Project (PDF). Has any reader attempted this method?
World production of garlic in 2014 was 25 million tonnes. China accounts for 80% of production and India accounts for an additional 5%. The remainder of the top 10 producers are Korea, Bangladesh, Egypt, Russia, Myanmar/Burma, Ukraine, Spain, and the USA. The data don’t really support Gilroy, California’s claim of being the Garlic Capital of the World. On the other hand, I’ve had Californian-grown garlic purchased from roadside markets near Gilroy, so I can at least attest to the tastiness of what is produced there.