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Mystery Allium

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  • Mystery Allium

    I transferred all of my perennial onions to my new perennial bed today (multiplier and pearl onions look really good). In the old allium bed I found four little plants that I don't recognise and I can't work out where they came from!

    If I'd deliberately planted/sowed them they would be in a square block - but there was one mixed in with the Welsh onions, one with the one surviving Red Breton and the other two in the section where I grew onions from sets last year. Nothing flowered or went to seed there.

    They look very much like young leeks (but I didn't sow any leeks there at all last year either). They are about the thickness of a finger with flat leaves and a very slight bulge just above the roots. They are white but the outer skin of the stem is definitely reddish.

    They are very healthy-looking plants which seem to have survived the winter very well, so I've replanted them in the perennial bed and will keep an eye on them to see if they bulb up or divide or just grow bigger like leeks.

    It's very confusing! What on earth could they be and where did they come from? I'm baffled!

  • #2
    Oooh this sounds like a good mystery to have. I wonder what they can be?
    Can you get a hint of what they are by a little nibble of the leaf? Perhaps just too oniony a group to tell?


    • #3
      I'll have a taste and report back!


      • #4
        That's exciting - oniony or garlicky tasting/smelling? Are there any gardenflower alliums around that could have flowered and made seeds? Otherwise it sounds quite similar to Minogue with red at the base.


        • #5
          Tastes garlicky, definitely different to the taste of Minogue.

          I grew Carousel garlic last year which is purplish, maybe some of it has stowed away in the soil somehow? Perhaps plants that didn't bulb out last year and died early enough that I didn't notice it? They are very small if so. And they have "migrated" away from the garlic patch...

          No, no other alliums flowered.


          • #6
            When you say 'migrated away' could that have been due to the soil preparation you did? Yes I also get garlic popping up regularly despite digging up properly (or so I like to think!). As we do get periods of summer drought here, some plants probably die off, especially the smaller ones and with so many other things going on in the garden, I just don't notice each and every garlic plant whilst they are doing their own thing (or not). I'd say Carousel is your most likely explanation, but you will soon know. If I dig up a little too late, I get some broken bulbs, especially if the garlic didn't grow so well and didn't have so many leaves (which means the division and the covers on each clove aren't so well developed). Not usually much of a problem with autumn planted garlic, but with spring planted garlic. Sometimes there is no choice and I have to plant in spring when it is too wet and flooded in the garden for autumn planting. One of my garlics has disappeared completely and I will have to replant (heavy soil and waterlogging over the last month, which garlics hate) and replanting now will mean smaller plants. As these are second year plants, they should be doing better because they are now used to your soil. My money is on Carousel, rather than a mystery, but how exciting it would be if that was not the case


            • #7
              I think you're probably right that it's Carousel.

              I'm guessing that it was plants that died off like you say, and I didn't notice them, and now they have grown again.


              • #8
                Baby garlics, still a good bonus and furthering their meld to your growing conditions.


                • #9
                  So I planted some fresh Carousel in the spring, and they look pretty much the same as the mystery plants except they're a little smaller, understandably.

                  And today I noticed something odd - flower scapes on three of the four mystery plants! There must be something in the air (or the soil) because as far as I can work out softneck garlics rarely flower. Perhaps it's responding to the same environmental factors that presumably triggered flowering in my Minogues? Or perhaps it's one of those times when plants communicate with each other to synchronise reproduction?

                  Think it's worth keeping the seeds if I get any?


                  • #10
                    And this is a big if, Bulbils yes, true seeds unlikely, but what do I know? It is worth growing from bulbils and it takes 2 years to get fully divided garlic from bulbils, unless the bulbils are the size of large peas. Some are, others are smaller than a grain of rice. If the bulbils are large, one year is enough for divided cloves. If they don't divide but produce 'rounds' - undivided garlic, that is also very edible and actually easier to peel.

                    I have a garlic that behaves like a softneck in that it rarely flowers, but this year one of them has a scape, which is just developing. Also doesn't happen very often.

                    What I get with softnecks are sidebolts - ie a scape with bulbils that gets stuck inside the stem of the garlic. It is like a smaller bulb above the main bulb stuck inside the stem. Full scapes on a softneck is unusual.

                    Well with the winter weather we had and the spring we had, the weather was (and still is) so unusual, it is no surprise that plants react peculiarly too.
                    Last edited by Galina; 01-06-2016, 21:26.


                    • #11
                      I guess I'll see what they do! It's very early days yet. It'll be really interesting to see what happens anyway!