Our apologies for not writing sooner, we have been very busy over the spring and holiday period. We hope all of your gardens are flourishing and everyone has harvested a good crop of garlic this year.
Our garlic seed is ready for sale! We are only selling our early varieties, even though we managed to keep the rust at bay and it did not jump to our main crop varieties. Our main varieties are still too limited in quantity to offer for sale. We do hope to have them available in the future. As we have been studying how we can continue to grow robust garlic with rust present, we have scaled back production in the last two seasons. It seems to have paid off with the early varieties. We have three grades of early garlic available but limited quantities, so get in quick so you don’t miss out. We also have Elephant garlic, shallots and potato onions available as these are not affected by the rust. As a general reminder for everyone, rust does not transfer through the seed, and instead is a fungal spore that lives on live allium plant material and spreads on the wind.
Also, as a general observation after listening to folks growing around the country, it would seem that rust was not as troublesome this year as in the past few. We have heard that in some instances it was a real problem. But lots of folks have reported good crops. Please do let us know how it went for you, as we are interested.
What we did this year:
- We planted all our garlic beds spread out over the whole garden taking care to not plant two beds next to each other. We did this as we always notice once rust sets in somewhere it spreads very quickly in our patch. So by spreading out we hoped it would slow down/stop the spread from bed to bed. This seemed to work really well. If you only grow one bed of garlic, might we suggest not growing it all in one bed but maybe spread around 3 different beds in your garden?
- We planted on the day of Moon Opposition to Saturn after talking with Rachel Pomeroy (Organic NZ magazines Moon Calendar author) about 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.
- To further the idea of strong form and structure we sprayed the garlic cloves early in the morning on planting day with the Biodynamic preparation 501 Horn Silica. Rachel Pomeroy also suggested we do this, as the Silica preparation is very good at strengthening the plants against disease and fungal issues. As rust is a fungal spore we thought, why not!
- We planted our main crop garlic upwind from the early varieties as rust spores travel on the wind and I had watched the early garlic last year get the rust and then it blew onto the main crop garlic that was downwind a lot more than the beds that were planted upwind.
- As with previous years we added compost, and used Environmental Fertilisers foliar sprays during the growth of the crop.
- One thing we did differently, instead of using baleage (we didn’t have any) we used grass clippings and leaves as mulch. It occurred to us, that baleage may not be the best thing to use as it can have a high fungal population.
What we learned:
In other news, we are having our annual Garden Tour and Harvest Meal February 24th 10:00am -2:00pm. This year we have asked our friends from Taste of Sun to bring their solar cookers to prepare the meal. For a meal grown and COOKED by the sun, how exciting! We have details on our website and please register before Wednesday February 20th as we need to know numbers for the meal. We hope some of you can make it.
- The early garlics are outperforming the main crop garlics each year. We are advocating for planting all garlic seed regardless of whether it is termed an early variety at the time early garlic is traditionally planted (March/April).
- Spreading out the crop is very effective at stopping the spores from spreading.
- The biodynamic preps and planting calendar is worth considering as a buffer for added strength against the rust.
- As with any crop, good soil fertility and weed suppression is very helpful.