Grow Garlic from Bulbils (seed)
Most people grow garlic from cloves. The bulbs are broken apart, and individual cloves pulled off. Cloves exhibit obvious signs that they are ready to plant. Roots grow from the bottom basal plate, and the tops turn greenish.
If garlic is allowed to grow out, it will produce a long central stalk with a flower and bulb. The bulb will contain tiny bulbils that are suitable for planting.
Unlike the cloves pulled from a mature bulb of garlic, bulbils will take more than one season to grow. Some varieties will take longer than others.
The benefit however, is that 10 garlic bulbs might produce 5 to 10 cloves, whereas the same plant can produce as many as 100 bulbils or more. The amount of bulbils will depend on the variety.
At the end of last season we collected 15 bulbs and collected nearly 300 bulbils. In fall, we replanted two cloves, and about 100 bulbils, about three bulbils per ½” deep hole.
In retrospect, we should have planted more garlic cloves to have more for immediate consumption in spring, but we ate them instead! This planting will yield two bulbs, with around 10 to 30 cloves, and a little over 30 smaller garlic plants. In warmer climates, garlic is ready to be harvested as early as spring.
If you live in a cooler climate and are uncertain of when to harvest, wait until half the garlic plant is dead. Remove the bulbs from the ground, and clean them off with a rinse of cool water.
A lot of people say not to wash after harvest, but we do it to remove extra dirt. Just be careful not to bruise your garlic. To prevent excess moisture, gently pat them dry with a towel. Let the garlic dry in a cool dry place out of the sunlight.
Depending on the temperatures and size of the bulbs, the skin on the bulbs will turn paper like and the cloves will be ready for consumption in as little as a few days or as long as a couple weeks.