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.


6 thoughts on “Garlic

  1. Sadly seems blight of various descriptions is taking hold of harvests this year but at least you have garnered plenty of sizeable bulbs. Wondering if they will store well though Sara and whilst on the subject are the softnecks, what is sold as wet garlic?

    • ‘Tis a strange year, but we appear to be lucky so far. The bulbs and lower stems seemed unaffected by the rust, and the ones I kept had no sign of rot so all should store well. I thought that soft neck garlics were the ones that didn’t store too well, but turns out I was wrong on this, and they are the better storers. Last year we only grew a hard neck variety, yet that kept until the spring when we used the last of it, so hopefully storage won’t be a problem. Apparently most supermarket garlic is softneck.
      Is wet garlic the same as green garlic? That is just garlic harvested young, before the cloves form, which is used fresh with a much milder flavour and doesn’t keep. It appears for a few weeks in the spring in markets and shops. We tried a couple of ours this way this year, in stir fries, and they were good.

  2. Sounds as if you stepped-in just in the nick of time! I haven’t been growing garlic, so I have not had to cope with the rust, but it has been a bumper year for blackfly in my garden. Despite pinching-out the tips of my Broad Beans, the plants are still heaving with the things. Actually, come to think of it, some of the BBs have rust as well, though doubtless this a completely different type to the one that attacks garlic.

    • Our broad beans have been plagued with blackfly for the first time this year too. Fortunately they don’t appear to have affected the pods yet, and we are starting to pick them at last.

  3. Well it looks like a great harvest, despite the rust. I pulled the second half of ours a couple of weeks ago and it’s drying in the greenhouse (the first batch was been brought indoors). I normally plait mine but I haven’t bothered this year, it’s all bundled together and I’ll just tie and hang it, we eat it so quickly anyway.

    Once they dry the soft and hard necked should be obvious (or at least it was with mine when I used to grow both – I only grow soft necked now).


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