In June our garlic, planted in the far corner of the garden beyond onions and lettuce, produced scapes. These signalled that harvest time was approaching, and also made some enjoyable meals.
We continued to watch this area for the dying back of the leaves that signals time to lift. Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago we were greeted with rather different signs…
Not just end-of-season yellowing leaves, but unsightly blotches of orange-brown: garlic rust.
Subsequent research shows that this was likely due to the recent warm wet weather, and no known cure is available – advice seemed to be to lift the garlic before the rust reached the bulbs, and burn the rusty foliage.
This weekend then, we dug up the bulbs.
As each bulb was harvested we cut the foliage straight off into bags, to try and limit the spread of rust nearby, although it seems that garlic rust is a subtly different strain to those rusts which affect onions, leeks etc. Better safe than hungry…
Our heavy soil had been retaining the rain rather too well, and while the rust had not travelled down to any of the bulbs, we did find some of the bulbs displaying white rot. Yet another reason why we shouldn’t now plant garlic in this spot again for several years.
We feared that lifting the garlic so early would give us rather small bulbs, but were pleasantly surprised to find some very respectable heads; and despite the rust and white rot, from the hundred-and-some cloves that we planted out we have a healthy harvest of over seventy bulbs. Not too bad, should keep the two of us going for a week or two…
The hard and soft neck varieties are a hopeless jumble, in our haste to salvage what we could, though I suspect the smaller ones are the softneck (edit) which should keep better.
A good harvest, despite the rather inauspicious circumstances.