After last summer’s garlic crop debacle (see our blog posting on 9-23-2012, “Our Garlic Stinks”), we weren’t holding out a lot of hope for our fall-planted cloves. After reading up on the aster yellows infection, we attempted to get some fresh planting stock, but there was none left to be bought commercially. We did get a few bulbs from a couple of other farms in the area, but their crops were also infected. Thankfully, our friends Jim and Jan, who live nearly 90 miles north of us, had a beautiful harvest of garlic and were able to share a few bulbs with us.
We planted the best looking bulbs from our stock in a new area of the garden. Then we planted the 2 varieties from Jim and Jan in another part of the garden. We also had quite a bit of elephant garlic left in the pantry from the 2011 harvest that we were still eating (they keep nearly forever!), so we also planted some of it in the segregated patch too.
We had thought about putting Remay row cover over the plantings to keep the leaf hoppers that spread aster yellows off the plants. This late spring may have delayed the insect’s migration, or they may just have found enough to eat on the native asters and wild carrots, because we haven’t seen any infestations like last year. We decided to opt out of the Remay covers so we could keep a better watch over the plants.
It’s clear now that the garlic is up and growing that all of our local planting stock from the 2012 harvest is infected to some degree. There were some skips in all of the varieties but our favorite garlic, Russian Giant, looked the most pathetic, with curled, yellow tops only an inch or two tall. We decided to dig it out and dispose of it before it spread its disease to anything else. As we dug it, the smell of slimy, rotting garlic was a sure sign that we were making the right decision to cull. By the looks of the rest of the patch, we may get some harvest from it, but we’ll definitely not save any seed stock from that planting. Everything that is from stock that was brought in fresh, or the elephant garlic that was from the prior year, looks so much greener and vibrant, the way garlic should look at this time of the year. Hopefully, we’ll be able to replace the Russian Giant with some clean bulbs this fall.