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I am growing true garlic seeds on my farm in Paradise Utah. I am using them to develop new cultivars of garlic: Allium sativum. I am selecting for plants that reproduce via pollinated seeds instead of by cloning. Because I am using true seeds instead of bulbils, the garlic is adapting itself to my garden, and I am undoing the damage caused by eons of cloning. I am collaborating with many people on this project, and welcome new growers to join our network. I have garlic cultivars to share which are known to produce true seeds.Why Seeds?
For thousands of years, garlic has been grown almost exclusively by cloning. Even though it appears from looking at seed catalogs that there are many garlic cultivars, DNA analysis indicates that many of them are clones of each other and have merely been renamed. I really really dislike growing clones in my garden, because they are fragile and susceptible to crop failures due to insects, disease, weather, soil, etc.Method
I think that it is wrong to grow plants in my garden that can only be propagated by cloning. Therefore, I am developing new cultivars that can be readily propagated by true garlic seed. By growing sexually reproducing plants, I am increasing the genetic diversity of my garlic crop, and I am able to select for plants that thrive in my garden because they are more resilient and adapted to my pests, soil, climate, and way of doing things.
I want to grow an honest landrace, which to me means that I need garlic that is reproducing by cross pollination rather than by cloning. But after thousands of years of being cloned, the genetics of just about all of the garlic cultivars have become damaged. I am working to undo the damage by growing garlic from true seeds. During the process of cross pollinating and growing out new cultivars, the DNA damage that causes this species to be functionally sterile will gradually be eliminated from my population.
I have been collecting germplasm for years. In the 2012 growing season I did not remove scapes from the hard-necked plants. I removed bulbils from the flower head starting at about the time that the husk around the flower split open. Many heads flowered, and I obtained a few seeds.
My technique is to split the husk, then pop bulbils out of the head with my fingernail. I check the flower heads from time to time to remove any bulbils that I missed previously. Some flower heads have many hundreds of bulbils. I get better results with those if I remove the bulbils a bit later. Plants with purple flowers seem easier to work with than plants with white flowers.
I separated the garlic bulbs that produced flowers into their own population group.
True Garlic Seeds
Links To Other Growers And Publications
- Obtain additional garlic cultivars that are known to produce true garlic seeds.
- Group seed producing plants into a population and continue producing true seeds.
- Grow garlic plants from true seeds, and select for plants that thrive in my garden and produce seeds easier.
- Grow softnecked garlic at >8000 feet elevation to see if that will more closely mimic their natural habitat leading to the formation of flower stalks, and grow hardnecked garlic at high elevation to see if that will minimize the formation of bulbils. (I'm looking for collaborators with high elevation gardens and a continental climate: northern Utah, southern Wyoming, northern Colorado.)
- Grow garlic plants on the north side of a building to see if the cooler temperatures will minimize the number of bulbils formed and/or stimulate flowering in softnecked varieties.
- Expose a group of softnecked garlic to 16 hours per day of light when they are at the 7 to 9 leaf stage to see if that will induce formation of a flower stalk. Include hardnecked garlic in the experiment to see if the earlier flowering will minimize bulbil formation.
- Collaborate with other garlic growers who are attempting to produce seeds.
- The most informative page on the web for home growers. Garlic Analecta: Growing Garlic from True Seed. 2012. Ted Jordan Meredith and Avram Drucker, Oregon.
- Going To Seed has successfully grown lots of true garlic seeds! 2012. Dan Brisebois, Ontario Canada.
- Seed grown Rocambole cultivars for sale. 2011. Ivan W. Buddenhagen, south-west Oregon.
- Seed Savers Exchange: Growing Garlic from True Seed. 2012- . Ted Jordan Meredith, et al.
- Homegrown Goodness plant breeding forum: True Garlic Seed. 2011- . Holly Dumont, et al.
- True Seeds in Garlic 2004. Rina Kamenetsky, Israel.
- Variation in Reproductive Characteristics and Seed Production in USDA Garlic Germplasm Collection. HortScience 39(3):485-488. 2004. M. Jenderek, R Hannan.
- Flowering, Seed Production, and the Genesis of Garlic Breeding. 4086 P-05 8/18/03 12:07 PM Page 211-243 Philipp W. Simon, Maria M. Jenderek
- Environmental Control of Garlic Growth and Florogenesis J. AMER. SOC. HORT. SCI. 129(2):144151. 2004. Rina Kamenetsky, Idit London Shafir, Hanita Zemah and Amalia Barzilay, H.D. Rabinowitch.
- Genetic Diversity among U.S. Garlic Clones as Detected Using AFLP Methods. J. AMER. SOC. HORT. SCI. 129(4):559569. 2004. Gayle M. Volk1, Adam D. Henk, and Christopher M. Richards
- Within- and Between-family Variability for Important Bulb and Plant Traits among Sexually Derived Progenies of Garlic. HortScience 40(5):1234-1236. 2005. Maria M. Jenderek, Yayeh Zewdie.
- The First Genetic Linkages among Expressed Regions of the Garlic Genome. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Science 130(4):569-574. 2005. Yayeh Zewdie, Michael J. Havey, James P. Prince, Maria M. Jenderek.
- Blog Kamenetsky Goldstein Rina, Prof. The Agricultural Research Organization of Israel, Volcani Center, State of Israel / Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 2008-12-10
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