1 July 2009
TROUBLE WITH THE GARLIC
I lifted the garlic late this afternoon. It’s the second big harvest of the season to come in, after shallots on the Solstice, and I’m more than a little worried. Usually ripe garlic is firm of bulb and deliciously aromatic. Alas, not this year. The bulbs are all generously proportioned but some tore off at the neck and, without exception, they are just not quite right. I can tell by the slightly unpleasant smell, slimy texture on the outside of the bulb where I’d normally expect it to be dry and crispy, and a white fluff around the base and roots.
I lifted them from the sandy soil and left them basking in the warm sunshine. I had my suspicions but needed to check a reference book before diagnosing and working out what to do as a result.
The news was not good. I believe the garlic is suffering from ‘onion white rot’. This is a fungal disease which strikes in summertime. I think that is the case here as the bulbs have obviously developed well prior to infection. The white fluff at the base is tell-tale. However, as with so many things it’s hard to be completely certain.
If my diagnosis is right then I’m in lumber – white rot is viable as the soil bourn fungal equivalent of seeds, called sclerotia, for a long time. There is no cure. To disinfect itself, soils demand onion family avoidance for eight years. I haven‘t decided what to do about the maincrop onions which are looking great but one or two have begun to show signs.
- Comma butterfly in the garden at 1.10pm.
- Over a dozen swifts gathered in shape shifting flock over St James this evening.
Copyright, Joe Hashman