Joseph Lofthouse, Landrace Seedsman
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Growing True Garlic Seed

Summary
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.

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.

Method
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.

garlic flower
Garlic Flower
garlic fruits
Garlic Fruits
true garlic seed
True Garlic Seeds
Future Plans
Links To Other Growers And Publications

My Other Landraces

Landrace garden crops

Warm Regards,
Joseph
ꕥꙞꕡꘈꔥꗌꙃ⳯

Blog: Mother Earth News -- Landrace Gardening.

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