Dear Curiosity Journal,

While breaking up garlic, I wondered why we plant the cloves rather than the seeds from the flowering part of the plant, also known as top setting bulbils. Most gardeners plant “seed garlic”, not garlic seed. I’ve heard Rufus say the cloves are the clones, not the seeds, but didn’t truly understand the difference. While processing the plants, I came across a few bulbils, garlic scapes that were never snapped off, flowered, matured, and became little garlic babies, the seeds, which look like mini cloves, papery wrapping and all. I was intrigued by the spherical seed clusters and wondered why we didn’t plant them. Just then, I reached up to tend to a tickle on the top of my head. When I first ran my fingertips over the origin of the prickling, I thought I had a burdock in my hair, not an uncommon occurrence. However, upon further inspection, I laughed out loud when I learned it was a garlic bulbil, the physical attachment of the very idea stuck in my head. Overcome by curiosity and synchronicity, I had to give it a Google. Here are the highlights; “While an heirloom hard neck garlic variety may only produce 4 to 8 large cloves to be saved for seed, it will produce somewhere between 20 and 100 little bulbils if the scapes are left intact. The tiny bulbil is much smaller than a garlic clove, and the plant will need a full year to get established in the soil and grow to the size of a garlic clove. Another year later, it’ll produce a full harvestable garlic bulb. The largest specimens can produce harvestable garlic in as little as two years, while the tiny ones will need a full three years to mature.” Well there you have it. We garlic lovers want garlic, and we want it now, but if we also planted the seeds, we would have a sort of exponentially expanding perennial garlic crop. I feel a garlic seed experiment in our future.