True Garlic Seeds
Update Spring 2022: True Garlic Seeds will not be available for spring/summer 2022. The TGS offered is generally the surplus from the on-farm breeding project. There just hasn’t been enough time to devote to this as the primary tasks vital to the farm have been necessarily prioritized.
There’s been a lot of inquiry from those who wish to grow out garlic like they would onions from seed or develop locally adapted varieties. The former is just not realistic and the latter occurs from selection of resultant progeny over successive generations. I cannot suggest that any of the seeds offered will or won’t be better for one climate or another. There are varieties that came out of this breeding project that have performed far better in colder locations than here in SW Oregon and others from the same parent that fared poorly in the same places. TGS is a multi-year and often labor intensive process requiring patience and perseverance. Like any breeding project it can be both discouraging and very rewarding, though always an experience of learning.
A note on IPR. Varieties that come out of the breeding project are generally pledged to OSSI, the Open Source Seed Initiative. Most of the seeds offered are derivatives of such, therefore must remain in the commons. If you work with these seeds, none of the resultant progeny may be patented, privatized, whatever. The aim is to increase genetic diversity and at some point down the line, there may be novel traits like white rot or fusarium resistance. Everyone ought to be able to further work with and improve upon these hypothetical accessions. As much labor is necessary to produce new varieties, i reject IPR. I do however, have immense respect for my brilliant colleagues who are working in the private sector who are leaps and bounds ahead and who’s financial backers understandably would like to see returns on their investments. Given the vulnerability of garlic to a host of pathogens, lets hope that when that tide of innovation rises, that the boats of small organic farmers and gardeners the world over lift too.
Much thanks to Andrew and Sarah at Adaptive Seeds for their hospitality and letting me use their seed cleaning equipment, including the amazing Winnow Wizard designed by Marc Luterra. Hopefully the Winnow Wizard blowing lighter seeds will help to improve germination. Either way between that and the array of screens available greatly reduced the time and tedium of winnowing thousands of seeds from dozens of samples.
True Garlic Seed has a low germination rate. With each generation germ rate improves but expect as low as 10% and as high as 40%. Seeds require vernalization. We soak seeds in a 1% bleach solution followed by a rinse and a month under refrigeration before seeding into flats or plugs. Germination is inconsistent and can occur from a few days, a few weeks and even a few months! It is recommended to read this article before endeavoring on this. TGS is not a commercially viable means of propagating garlic. It is experimental and offers the possibility of introducing variation into a gene-pool limited by millennia of asexual propagation, of obtaining virus free stock, potentials for disease resistance, of combining traits that cross groups or defy categorization, in short, creating something new.
We come up with names for garlic clones when offered for sale but prior to that Ted Meredith came up with a naming convention used to track seeds/progeny. So if the following names make no sense, it may be worth looking at this.
Seeds should be vernalized immediately upon arrival.
Prices are $20 for .18g+ or approximately 100 seeds. Shipping is $9 for USPS priority mail or $5 for 1st class mail. Garlicana is not set up for the phytosanitary inspection required for international shipping.
A note on quantities. After having repeatedly counted and weighed 100 seeds, it varies between .16g. and .19g. thus the approximation.
This remains very experimental and until recently the seeds were coveted, every one replanted. A few generations in, the seed yields improved and enough is produced to make available. At this point, Garlicana is the only farm based garlic breeding project offering seeds to the general public. I cannot guarantee your results or even your germination (though be patient, i’ve had garlic seedlings pop up in repurposed potting soil months later). The seeds you receive are a culmination of years of work and i am interested to know how these do for you.