We know many of you have been waiting for our seed garlic to come available, and the moment has arrived! We are able to offer for sale our early varieties now, which should be planted in March. We will list later in the year closer to their planting times our Elephant Garlic and Multiplying Onions.
We successfully grew and have gotten a crop of all our main crop cultivars, although the amount we grew is still too small for commercial sale. We hope to have Rocambole, Henry’s Soft Top and Takahue available again in the future, but the Early Pearl and Early Purple specifically are holding their own better with the rust.
We had a great year with garlic in general with no rust at all on the early varieties and only a small presence on our main crop varieties just before harvest. We feel confident the strategies we have put in place to produce a crop in the presence of rust are effective. We have learned a lot along the way, and want to share this knowledge so everyone will still be able to succeed with their garlic crop!
A few notes to please consider:
- Numbers, please be considerate when ordering, we like the garlic love to go around, so lots of gardeners can get some stock to plant. Try not to order too much seed. And try to make it a goal to save some of your own garlic for seed next year!
- Photos of our seed garlic. We usually take a new photo each season to show you the current stock. This sort of stuff takes time. In an effort of streamlining the process and getting the garlic up on the website sooner, we went with last years photos. We can assure you the seed garlic is BETTER THAN LAST YEAR IN SIZE! So please note, you will not be disappointed 😊
Here is what we have learned. First, I will share what we know about Garlic Rust:
- Rust does NOT transfer to the seed, thankfully you can still plant cloves from plants that were affected with rust.
- Rust species, Puccinia allii, lives on LIVE allium (onion, leek, garlic, elephant garlic, chive, bunching onion, and spring onion) plant matter. If you grow other alliums in the garden particularly leeks as their growing season are the other half of the year from garlic, you may find the spores will remain in your garden and re-inoculate your crop. Fortunately, once the plant dies, so do the spores of the rust fungus. My research initially led me to believe that only this specific species affects alliums, but I have seen in our garden rust spread from non-allium plants such as grass to our garlic. I now keep an eye out in spring for any rust on any plant and if it appears I try to remove the plant on a calm, no wind moment, and bag it to be taken out of the garden.
- Rust is a fungal spore that spreads on the WIND especially in moist environments when leaves are wet for more than 4 hours at a time. The longer the leaves and any surrounding weeds stay wet the more that the rust will spread. Wet springs bring more rust than dry ones. We have successfully for the last four seasons planted our garlic up wind (from our prevailing wind in spring) from leeks and we plant our main crop garlic and elephant garlic up wind from our early garlics. This technique is very effective at limiting the spread of the spores as the wind is blowing the spores away from the plants!
- Garlic rust has two types of spores, orange and black. The black spores are the ones that hunker down and wait for the right climatic conditions and then start to produce the orange spores. These spread all over the leaves and significantly impact the growth of the crop by blocking photosynthesis and stressing the plant overall.
- Plant spacing and placement in the garden is very important. Traditionally, we have planted garlic as close to 10-15cm apart in a biointensive grid pattern. Those days a long gone, as this means all their leaves are touching, and the rust can then spread like wildfire. We now plant garlic in rows at 25cm spacing, and the cloves in the rows also at 25cm spacing. We use mulch (grass clippings, hay or straw) and weed regularly to allow for as much air movement as possible so plants can dry faster. We also plant each garlic bed spread out across the whole garden with no two beds next to each other. In the past, we would have a garlic patch, this meant that if rust presented, it would soon spread to the whole plot. With the spreading out technique, if one bed gets rust, other beds don’t. In the home garden even if you are only planting a small number of cloves, I would recommend spreading them out so you don’t have all your plants together.
- Early planting is probably the most effective thing we have done to date. Planting your early garlics in March and your main crop garlic and elephant garlics in May gives the plants a head start on growth. By November when the spores seem to get out of hand, the crops are more developed and better able to size up, regardless of rust.
- Variety choice is important. We have consistently found our early garlics (Early Pearl and Early Purple) to be less affected by the rust than the main crop varieties. Elephant Garlic, is actually a leek and neither leeks or elephant garlic are affected by rust, so choose wisely when planting. A failsafe choice seems to be elephant garlic.
Practical steps you can take in your garden:
- Prevention is key. Once you have rust it is impossible to get rid of in an organic system. Focus on healthy soil. We know that healthy soil leads to healthy plants, and this is your best defence from any pest or disease. We use our home-made compost, micronized lime and liquid seaweed at planting time. We also apply Environmental Fertilisers foliar sprays throughout the season and in recent years we have used their certified organic solid fertiliser as well.
- Do not overhead irrigate in mid to late spring. Moisture on leaves is the danger time when rust spores multiply and spread.
- Plant your garlic up wind from all other alliums. Space your garlic at least 20-30cm apart to allow for faster drying in the crop, as the spores will travel in the wet. Spread the garlic cloves out across the garden, not all in one place even if your planting is small.
- Clear out all other allium plant material at least two weeks prior to garlic leaf emergence. And check the garden for any pant with rust present, remove any affected plants regardless if they are an allium or not. If this is not possible, keep a very close eye on the other crops and make sure they are rust free.
- Seed selection, we are selecting the bulbs that held up the best to the rust. If you are holding back seed from your own stock, pick the biggest bulbs and the plants that had the least rust on them. This is good practice whether you had rust or not.
- Planting on the day of Moon Opposition to Saturn has been recommended by Rachel Pomeroy (Organic NZ magazines Moon Calendar author until recently) as an ideal time to work with the Biodynamic calendar to help build strength against rust. Moon Opposition to Saturn is a great all-round seed sowing day as the Moon represents fertility and germination and Saturn represents form and strong structure.
Things to Sow in the Garden Now:
February and March are the months to sow seeds for your winter garden! I know it is hard to believe that we need to be thinking about our winter veggies now, but if you want broccoli in June, sow now! Here is what we are planting:
Broccoli Purple Sprouting and Romanesco are designed for autumn sowing as they will not produce a crop if sown in spring until the following winter! So, try these delicious vegetables now. Broccoli Raab Spring Rapini, Cabbage Chi Hi Li, Silverbeet Fordhook Giant, Spinach Bloomsdale, Corn Salad, Cress Land, Mustard Giant Red, Orach Red, Coriander, and Salad Burnet can all be sown now. We sow lettuces each month to keep in constant supply, now we focus on the cooler season varieties like Winter, Lollo Rossa, Tree, and Speckled. Now is also a good time to get Asian greens like Mizuna, and Tat Soi in, as well as Rocket and Wild Arugula to keep in supply. If these all sounds good, try our Easy Pick Greens Mix! Remember, with all brassicas they are susceptible to the white cabbage butterfly, so to protect from this, we recommend covering your crops while they get established with fine frost cloth, or remove the caterpillars by hand. Of course, there are organic sprays available, but we do not use these. We prefer instead to create a barrier so the butterflies cannot lay their eggs. Problem solved.
Don’t forget about flowers for the winter garden! Calendulas, Poppies, Lupins and Sweet Peas are frost hardy and beautiful!
Our Website is the best place to find the most up to date information on what we have available at all times during the year.
We encourage orders through this medium, but of course we will still accept orders via email from our Catalogue or via the post using our printed order form. And stay tuned as our new catalogue and updated website will be out in July!
And here is our Order Form PDF or Order Form Excel
Email orders from the catalogue to: [email protected]
Or post order forms to: Setha's Seeds PO Box 60, Tutira 4181
And a reminder that selections of our seeds are also available from our Retail Outlets around the country.