Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019 Garlic Harvest

Blergh.

You know what doesn't grow well in San Francisco's Garden District, or at least has not yet grown well for me? 

Garlic.

You know I love growing garlic. In previous gardens, I've grown more garlic than I could use in a year. I shared it with neighbors and grew out many different heirloom varieties. But here, there are challenges galore for my allium friends.

The garlic I planted in October started so well in the fall and grew steadily through winter. Christmas came and a gopher (or two) stole about a tenth of the crop. I cursed gophers. One variety, Belarus, a previous favorite in other gardens, broomed. The plants divided early into cloves which then tried to grow as individual plants, so when I pulled them up, they were just clusters of tiny cloves and stems rather than a single heads of regular sized cloves. I cursed brooming. As late winter hit, so did the rust, and some plants gave up entirely while others struggled along. I cursed rust.

A few weeks ago, I pulled my runted garlic from the bed. The plants were covered with rust and they had already bulbed up as much as they would. I shook the dirt off the plants, bundled them to dry under the eaves where they wouldn't get any drizzle—if there were to be any—and planted a cover crop of red-blossomed buckwheat and cowpeas in their former bed. Yesterday, I pulled the cured garlic bunches down to clean up for storage. Ugliness awaited: all the artichoke varieties (eg Red Toch and Kettle River Giant) had rotted. Instead of drying out in the breeze and shade, they turned into mushy stink bombs. So, I cursed rot.

Gophers, rust, brooming, rot. The garlic has not had a good year.

What broomed garlic looks like.

My complete measly harvest. 

I'm going to try one more time this fall, planting out only the three varieties that seemed to be able to survive the onslaught a little better than others. The hardneck varieties appeared to fare better against the rust and weren't at all affected by rot. One hardneck, Belarus, broomed, so that one is out. Another, Early Portuguese, didn't do much of anything. So that leaves three I'll try again next year: Basque, Rose du Lautrec, and Burgundy. I'll gopher wire the allium bed when I dig in the cover crop, and I'll plant the cloves really far apart, leaving plenty of room for wind to dry humidity off the plants. But, if I can't get a good crop next year, I'll stop trying with garlic and use the space for other winter crops. It will be more room in which to experiment.

Basque, one of the few varieties I'll try again next year.

Are you listening to me, little bulbs? If you don't shape up, your space will go to somebody else.


1 comment:

Scott said...

I vote for more dance floor space