First, the paper wrapping was very different. Instead of lots of multiple layers, it seemed to be one fused and tightly held layer, much like the inner wrapping of an onion. Second, there were no divided cloves. It was one solid ball, like a boiling onion. How could it be that I had planted sweet little cloves of garlic and ended up with onions? I cut into my little test bulb and tasted it.....Mmmmm... garlic-y! As always, I did a little reading to see if I had discovered some freakish new plant or if this happened to other folks. It turns out, this is not such an oddity after all. In fact, some folks prefer to replant these "garlic rounds" or "ball garlic," citing that they produce larger bulbs the following season. From what I read, they also seem to store better since they are more tightly wrapped. (I presume less moisture is introduced and lost.)
As garlic goes through the development underground from a clove to a fully cloved bulb, it first swells into a large round undivided ball with a lot of wrappers that are almost fused together. As it grows, it begins to divide and sub-divide into as many cloves as it can before the heat causes it to lose its leaves. If the temperature increases before the garlic has time to divide, then the result is a large undivided round. [...] If replanted as is in the fall, they will form large fully divided bulbs the following spring. These rounds have the same taste and other properties as the clove they came from. Mild tasting garlics yield mild tasting rounds and strong garlics result in strong tasting rounds. For spring planting, rounds are your best bet to produce a good size bulb by the time early summer heat forces maturity.That said, these little "ball garlics" make perfect sense in my garden this season. Not only did I plant in spring, not allowing proper maturity, but it got blazing hot very early and stayed that way, spending the plant before it could develop divided cloves. This is one of the multitude of reasons why I LOVE gardening. Every season I learn countless lessons and I grow as a gardener and a person. In this case, I learned something new, tasted a new treat and can now make educated decisions not only about when to plant garlic, but also at what developmental stage I would like to do so!