«SOLO» Music garlic and spring-planted bulbs, what is the link?

Historically, «SOLO» garlic refers to a variety of Allium sativum (garlic) that produces only one clove. The diameter is usually between 25 and 50 mm. It can have several other names such as: single-clove garlic, pearl garlic, and even male garlic (seen at the Jean Talon Market in Montreal). The “SOLO” garlic that is commercially available in large quantities usually comes from China, mainly from the Yunnan region (1). This garlic is found in small packets in supermarkets and is also used to make black garlic.

Chinese «SOLO» garlic is therefore a very specific production with a variety suitable for the environmental conditions of that country. But what about Le Petit Mas’ organic «SOLO Music» garlic?

Our «SOLO Music» garlic is simply «Music» variety garlic that has simply failed to divide to form cloves and well-formed bulbs. This garlic therefore has the same properties as «Music» garlic in terms of taste and storage capacity.

On the culinary side, the advantage is that ONE «SOLO» garlic can correspond to 3-4 cloves, so even less peeling! With this garlic, you can even make “garlic chips”! You slice the “SOLO” garlic with a thickness of about 2 mm per slice. Cook the slices in a skillet with a drizzle of oil. When the “chips” seem golden brown and crispy, they’re done! Drain them on paper towels and add a little salt to taste!

On the seed side, «SOLO» garlic can obviously be planted. In principle, the larger the planting cloves, the larger the garlic bulbs will be at harvest, while of course having a limit… «SOLO» garlic would therefore make a good seed, and would give divided garlic the following year if planted in the fall. It’s a bit the same principle for those who plant garlic from bulbils. These little garlic clones are harvested from mature garlic flowers and take up to 3 years to form complete bulbs. In the 2nd or 3rd year of planting, the bulbils look a lot like «SOLO» garlic.

Why did we harvest «SOLO» Music garlic this summer?

This result comes from an experiment we did this year. And here is the process that led us to this result!

1. We have now a lot of garlic and we have little time to harvest it all. So far, we have been able to harvest everything because adding straw, on a part of our areas, delays the harvest of garlic flowers and garlic by about a week, compared to areas without straw. To learn more about mulching: Should I protect my fields of Quebec garlic with mulch?

2. However, the mechanical harvesting of garlic in strawed plots proves to be very difficult…There are very often jams in the machine and a lot of straw ends up in the harvest bins. Sometimes, you have to look for the garlic because there is so much straw in the bins! We tried to modify the harvester and we also tried to remove the straw with different machines and it remains a problem.

3. We did some research and talked to other garlic growers in Quebec who plant garlic in the spring and have some success. Planting in the spring has certain advantages. Winter loss due to extreme temperature changes is zero and there is a growth lag between garlic planted in the fall and garlic planted in the spring. However, you need to know how to store the seeds and also be able to get into the field very, very early in the spring.

4. We therefore decided to keep 4,000 kg of garlic (out of a total of 22,500 kg of garlic planted for the 2023 harvest) in our new long-term storage “freezer” for planting in the spring. Hoping to be able to plant as early as possible in the spring.

5. We took the garlic out of the freezer about 2 days before cracking the seeds and planting them. On taking them out, we ventilated the seeds to bring them to about 20°C for cracking. Planting took place on April 28 (field 11) and May 8 (field 13). On all the photos of field 11; on the left: garlic planted in the fall, on the right: garlic planted on April 28.


6. We harvested the garlic scapes from the fall plots between June 26 and July 5. We cut the garlic scapes from the spring plots between July 13 and August 15. The garlic scapes did not emerge in a synchronized manner and were generally smaller than the fall garlic flowers.

7. We started harvesting the garlic from the fall plots on July 19 and began harvesting the garlic from the spring plots on August 17.


While the experiment yielded mixed results, with some small-size garlic and about 1/3 of the harvest being«SOLO» garlic, we were successful in staggering the harvest, which was our main objective. We have therefore refrozen garlic seeds for planting in spring 2024. Will we have «SOLO» garlic in 2024? Stay tuned!


(1) Solo Garlic, 2023-10-01, Wikipedia Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solo_garlic (consulté le 2023-11-24

(2) Photo credit: https://www.deltasontrading.com/black-garlic-products/black-solo-garlic

Garlic in the Eastern Townships

Article and research produced by: Storica

Do you know when people started eating garlic in the Eastern Townships? A long time ago, a really long time ago. The Abenaki people, the first inhabitants of the land, criss-crossed the lakes, rivers, and forests for thousands of years. Of course, at that time, the fleshy, bulbous varieties of the garlic we know today weren’t around; Allium sativum hadn’t crossed the Atlantic yet! So what did people eat? A variety native to North America (Allium tricoccum), better known in Québec as wild garlic!

In 1972, Québec-born Cree and Algonquin writer Bernard Assiniwi published a book of Indigenous recipes, a diverse collection of mostly Abenaki and Mohawk culinary traditions, but also Cree, Mi’kmaq, Huron, Tuscarora, and others. Fortunately, he identified the cultural origin of each recipe, which gives us a starting point in our little investigation into the consumption of garlic in the Eastern Townships.

First, it’s important to know that traditional Indigenous cooking does not use salt or pepper! To season their soups, salads, grilled meat and fish, the Western Abenaki, who live between Lake Memphrémagog and the Mégantic region and along the Saint-François River, use wild plants such as thyme, mint, wild leek, burnt coltsfoot leaves, woodchips (cedar, walnut, ash), and of course wild garlic!

Among the traditional recipes passed on by Assiniwi, there are various soups made with wild garlic, watercress, squash, or sunflower seeds, as well as recipes for grilled fish, seafood, and game that use garlic as the seasoning. Directly associated with the Algonquin—the major language family of the Abenaki—one particular recipe from this book stands out: Wild Greens Salad. This salad of spring greens includes stems of wild garlic, young watercress leaves, wood sorrel, and dandelion leaves, tossed with sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar, and coltsfoot salt. Why does this salad stand out? We’ll come back to this!

Cleared in the late 18th century by American pioneers (Loyalists and others), then by English, Irish, and Scottish immigrants throughout the 19th century, the Eastern Townships developed a culinary heritage with strong British-American roots. One thing is clear: it didn’t really include garlic. We closely examined the books of farm women’s circles, Anglican parishes, and homemaker committees such as the Universalist Church Lady Societyand the United Church Women Association, everywhere where garlic might have appeared, but we only found onions and sometimes leeks.

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that garlic cloves started appearing in printed recipes. Was this a sign of a gradual opening to world cuisine? Was it perhaps the impact of the Francization of the Townships or of important figures such as Jehane Benoît who settled in Sutton in 1956? Her Encyclopedia of Canadian Cooking, now considered a foundation of Québécois cooking, was published in 1963!

Between 1990 and 2000, authors such as Julian Armstrong, Laurent Saget, Michel Lambert, and Micheline Mongrain-Dontigny started being interested in regional cooking. They went out into the field, talked with the locals, collected family recipes from the Brome-Missisquoi, Memphrémagog, Haut-Saint-François, and Coaticook regions and … surprise, surprise, the Abenaki spring salad reappeared.

Outside popular recipe books, restaurants, or agri-food circuits, the wild garlic and dandelion salad was passed on from generation to generation behind the scenes. Sharron Rothney, a resident of Eaton Corner, clearly remembers the dandelion salad that her mother consistently made every spring.

Around the same time, in the early 2000s, a novelty started appearing in regional cookbooks: recipes with garlic scapes. For example, Eastern Townships Traditional Cooking, published in 2002, features Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Scapes and Chicken with Garlic Scapes. So what happened in the 2000s?

We have to go back twenty years when Christiane Massé and her partner at the time cherished a dream of organic farming and food self-sufficiency. In 1988, their project became a reality with the purchase of land in Saint-Malo and the establishment of Le Petit Mas, a diverse vegetable farm at the time. Christiane was interested in garlic and grew some, like other farmers in the region. She tells us that “in the 1980s, people grew a softneck variety of pink garlic. There were a few farms in the southern part of Montérégie, around Saint-Rémi and Napierville, that cultivated somewhat larger crops, but that was about it.”

Very interested in garlic, she researched it extensively. She then heard about a research project on different varieties that was about to be completed in Chambly. The timing was perfect! She went to the place and met the researcher who gave her samples of 25 different varieties in small, brown paper bags. As he gave her the bulbs, he told her that “the Music variety is the best according to our research; it will be the most reliable.” According to Christiane’s tests, this turned out to be true. Excited by this cultivar, she telephoned the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, which put her in direct contact with Mr. Music. For several years, she travelled south of Toronto to purchase seeds from him.

Over the following two decades, she worked on developing trusting relationships with large chain stores so as to have the value and quality of locally-grown garlic be recognized. At first, she met with outright refusals; the chains would only take her organic garlic at the derisory rates that they purchased Chinese garlic. With much patience and encouraged by small victories, she finally managed to clear the path and see her garlic on store shelves.

Not satisfied with being a pioneer in the cultivation and commercialization of Québec-grown garlic, Christiane also made garlic scapes popular … somewhat by accident! “In Asia, they eat the stalks of garlic. They’re frequently found in markets. In Ontario, they call them garlic scapes. In the early years, I didn’t know that this was something people eat. It took me about a decade before I started using some. One day in late July, I had some so I chopped them up, put them in oil in the fridge, and then forgot about them.” To her great surprise, when she rediscovered her jars in the fall, the mixture had fermented and increased in flavour and complexity. She then commercialized the product which she named garlic flowers. “In Québec, people called them fleurettes d’ail, but I didn’t like that name,” so she called them fleurs d’ail, a term whose literal translation of garlic flowers also existed, to her great surprise, in Ontario.

Christiane before 2000 presenting the galic flowers into a food show

Today the recognition of Québec-grown garlic is well established, while garlic scapes have become part of the regional culinary heritage for over twenty years already. So we’ll take advantage of this moment to honour a decidedly local recipe: the garlic and dandelion salad with a Le Petit Mas twist.

Hazelnut and baby dandelion salad with garlic vinaigrette

Picture by: Storica

Here is a recipe that you can make at home inspired by the many versions of the dandelion salad found throughout the Eastern Townships. Some make it with salt pork and onions (Julian Armstrong, 1992); others with bacon lardons (Association de la Culture et du Patrimoine d’Abercorn, 2007); sometimes the greens are braised in vinegar (Michel Lambert, 2017) or served raw with wild garlic and a hard-boiled egg (Laurent Saget, 1995). The following is a loose interpretation inspired by ingredients used by the Abenaki and products easily found in grocery stores.

For complete recipe: page recipe Bon appétit!

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Should I remove the mulch from my field of garlic?

It’s April, and spring is finally here. As we look over our fields of garlic, get our tools and tractors ready and prepare for the heat, we’re also happy to answer some of your questions!

Should I remove the mulch that I put over my Quebec garlic in the fall?

First of all, it’s not necessary to remove the mulch from the field of garlic. As you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult to remove mulch from 20 acres of land, only to have to put it back later! At le Petit Mas, we don’t cover anymore all our acres. That would be too expensive and take too much time at fall! To have both, gaves us a serious advantage as harvest period of garlic scape and garlic is expanded.

Effectively, when the ground is still thawing, the soil under the mulch takes longer to thaw because it’s protected from direct sunlight. Since the soil is colder, the sprouting will be slower. The garlic could take an extra 1 to 2 weeks to come out of the ground and poke out through the mulch. 

If your Quebec garlic is already poking out through the mulch, the ground has thawed and you can leave the mulch where it is.

Using mulch also presents a major challenge: the thickness of the layer of mulch. If the layer of mulch is not thick enough, it will be effective against frost but not against weeds. If the layer of mulch is too thick, it will smother and kill the garlic. If you put down a really thick layer of mulch or a geotextile fabric without holes, it would be better to remove them in the spring.

Lastly, if the ground is still frozen and you only have a few rows of garlic in your garden, you can remove and set aside the mulch and put it back later (to smother weeds and retain moisture). It’s up to you to decide whether you’re a gardener or a laidback gardener.

Happy gardening!

Please write to us with any questions you might have about growing garlic in Quebec!

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While you wait for the arrival of Quebec-grown garlic in stores, be sure to buy fermented garlic scapes sold in stores all year round.

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