Friday, November 25, 2016

Garlic harvest, garlic grassy top, and nasturtiums

I know I complain about this every year but I just want to add more to my discussions on what I call 'Grassy Top' in garlic. For some reason I just can't find mention of this problem online or in books but I can't imagine it is limited to my garlic.

I have found that a few varieties of garlic (all hardnecks in my experience so far) will produce this before they are ready to harvest. It looks like grass growing out the top of the garlic stems.

It seems to be caused by the soil getting too wet in winter. My main culprit is Monaro Purple - shame because otherwise it is my favourite variety. Nearly all our rain falls for the year in two months - August and September, and that is when the garlic is putting on their main growth.

If you take off the outer wrappers you will see that it is actually the cloves that have started to shoot while the main plant is still growing.

Sometimes only a few plants will be affected, and sometimes nearly all. it seems to affect the biggest and most well grown/healthiest plants.

In severe cases you will see that the plant puts so much effort into the shooting cloves that the whole plant is stunted.
Also, there is often not much of a bulb as the cloves begin to fill out so there is not a marked difference between the stem and the bulb.
 Fortunately, the shooting cloves can still be dried and stored but with a reduction in the storage time to a couple of months or so. This does not bother me as I replant my garlic at Christmas time instead of waiting till autumn so they sit happily in the ground till the rain in autumn comes.

I have just finished my garlic harvest today and left one grassy top plant in the ground to see what it does over the next few months and into autumn. I think it will just go dormant naturally as it gets drier and hotter and then all the cloves will reshoot when the weather cools down.

The garlic harvest was just as bad as I expected but I did find that the Monaro Purple variety coped much better with the heavy weed competition that all the other varieties. I did completely lose a couple of varieties due to the weeds and wet.

The bulbs were small but I will have enough of this variety to replant for next year. I was banking on a good harvest and crop for sale but the winter destroyed that hope.

I will have to rebuy some bulbs of the other varieties when they come on the market.

On a happier note, the nasturtiums have had one of the best springs ever, they are looking magnificent.
I will have a lot of seed to offer and put in packets. There is already a lot of seed setting.

I have decided to change the picture on my nasturtium packets to this picture that I took today.

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