Garlic Buyer's Checklist

My Checklist If I Were Buying "Seed" garlic in 2016


What about size?

Buy only “seed” garlic heads that are of 2” minimum diameter. Do not spend good money on
less diameter. Smaller diameters should be of cheaper cost, and can denote less healthy garlic. If
smaller than 2” is all the grower has for sale, I wouldn't bother. The vigor and yield from the
larger 2” size is worth the cost even to the point of not buying anything at all if smaller.

What's in a name?

A standard strain/variety name is good to starting point for a buyer. Some
strains/names are regional or cultural in use and some are offered as “no-name”. Names often
indicate a supposed family, ethnic, or country origin. Buyers of “seed” garlic are often fixated
on purchasing a certain strain/variety/name of garlic. Many names are actually the same strain,
just with different hand-me-down names attached. For example, “German White”, “New York
White”, “GERMAN EXTRA HARDY” (LINK), and “Music” may all be the same. Indeed,
there may be strains that may be distinct that bear these names. But there are many batches of
garlic that are identical with these names. To keep it all confusing, some growers/sellers are
mixing the various names together and calling the crop whatever the buyer desires!! More
important than chasing any name/strain, buy “seed” garlic from an honest knowledgable person
who offers good size grade and yearly pest testing. This is exponentially more important than
any coveted name!!! Second to this, is knowing which type of garlic you are interested in;
are many informal and unscientific divisions within these types. The BOGATYR HARDNECK
I sell is an example of a variety that does not fit exactly into a general type.

The Seed Grower/Seller Should Be Testing Their Seed

The “seed” grower/seller should be testing each strain/variety they grow for Bloat Nematode
and other pests/diseases, not just an amalgamated sample of the various varieties. A standard
sampling is five heads of each strain/variety. Remember: a clean test is only representative, not
an absolute result of the whole strain/variety. The grower should provide copies of test results
from university or private testing services. If they cannot provide these results, do not buy the
garlic. If a grower has multiple year testings showing negative pest results, feel doubly assured
of the good quality.

Organic or conventional?

“Organic” or “Conventional”? Whether “seed” garlic is certified organic or not, the checklist
applies. There is nothing inherent about certified organic or conventional practices that would
make garlic more or less vigorous, flavorful, or disease/pest free. I have seen good garlic grown
of both, and awful, sketchy garlic grown of both. It is really about the grower being a good
grower. A good grower/farmer of either practice cares about the same things and the same
outcome: a healthy, excellent crop to sell to future happy customers.