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Is it worth saving my 4th generation garlic for next year?

 
pollinator
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I have 2 varieties of garlic that I grow. (Siberian and Phillips). I have never labeled them before because the phillips plants were always quite a bit smaller than the siberian plants. This year, due to some home made compost I put on both plots, all of them were huge. The ones I think are phillips, are actually bigger than the other row. The siberian variety often has brown tips on the leaves no matter what you do, but I'm only about 60% certain which is which. If there is not really any genetic benefit to my having saved them for 4 years, I'll just buy some more so I can be sure which is which. My understanding is that garlic grown from cloves are essentially clones... so there wouldn't really be any genetic benefit to my reusing ones I've saved and replanted for 4 years? Or maybe there is some benefit to my choosing the biggest healthiest cloves to replant even though they are clones?

Thanks in advance.
 
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is it important to know the variety name? i confess that while the garlic i grow started as three distinct varieties, i’ve treated it all that same and can’t tell a significant difference between any of them at this point. still grow and tastes great.
 
Matt McSpadden
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It is important to me to know which is which, because the Phillips variety was found here in Maine, so it is a cool selling point. Siberian has the highest concentration of allicin of any variety, which is also a cool selling point. However if I don't know which is which, then those interesting points go away and it becomes just garlic. Still better than store bought... but just garlic with nothing to really make it stand out.
 
pollinator
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Do they taste different? My first thought is that if you can't tell them apart, what's the point in growing both?
If growing both varieties is important to you, then maybe you can pick some from what you think is each variety AND buy more.
 
Jan White
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Ah - sorry, Matt, I was typing when you posted your response to Greg.
 
Matt McSpadden
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Hi Jan,
Most years I can tell a difference. Siberian is much spicier and phillips more mild. I have not tried any this year yet, as they are still hung up to dry. But that is a good idea to save some and buy some. I could plant in 4 plots and see if I can match the plants.
 
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As you identified, you're essentially growing ongoing clones. Have you ever considered growing a patch of one variety and letting them go to seed and growing out the babies? It would take time until they get big again. The general rule I heard in the past is that if you want large cloves, you need to choose only the large cloves from a bulb to re-plant.

I think you've also observed something I noticed years ago - sometimes too much love is a bad thing. Plants that have to struggle a little, often have qualities that are important - they're forced to grow "strong" rather than simply grow "big". The spiciness you observed in the one variety, may be a sign of the struggle, an by them growing big, you diluted it.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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