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Old May 15, 2019   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Disappointing Garlic Harvest

A quick garlic recap: The garlic plants have looked pretty ratty over the winter. Then they started sending up a lot of wispy leaves which last year turned out to be a sign of having been in the ground too long but a few test bulbs dug a month ago showed no clove division yet so I let them grow more.

Now the plants are starting to fall over so after discovering that the bulbs have indeed divided into cloves, I decided yesterday to dig up the garlic.



Well, they're not much and mostly about 1.5" in diameter:



There are 83 bulbs. The ground was prepped and they were cared for the same as I've done the past two years. One thing that just occurred to me as I write this is that I need to check the soil pH.

They've been tied together in bundles of ten and hung under cover to cure for a few weeks. They're going to be a pain to peel for cooking because they're small and there will be no large cloves to plant come fall. I suppose I should just shut up and be grateful that I have garlic.

And dream of these fat, beautiful 2.5" bulbs from last year:

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Old May 15, 2019   #2
bower
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I hope we see Henry here again, I bet he would have some idea of the cause.
I have had smaller than expected bulbs in years that we were cooler than normal, also when I planted in beds that didn't get quite as much direct sun.
I have read that garlic won't grow above a certain soil temperature, that might be a factor for you.
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Old May 15, 2019   #3
meganp
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Did you have fluctuating temperatures or higher than normal rainfall this season? The wispy fine leaves look like witches brooming which is where every clove sends up its own shoot and can also be caused by over feeding.
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Old May 15, 2019   #4
GoDawgs
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The garlic has been in full sun. Overfertilizing is a possibility.

It was planted at the end of September. Temp swings over the winter were pretty much as they always are. Nothing out of the ordinary. But we had a wet October with 4" in a three day period when Hurricane Michael came close. November was wet, about 4" above normal and December was 3" above normal.
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Old May 15, 2019   #5
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I will be interested to see what I get when I dig mine this year. I'm a fair bit further north, but we've had a lot of rain here as well, record setting actually. I'm seeing more yellowing of leaf tips than I normally see and I was quite shocked to see at least 2 of the 3 types of hardnecks I'm growing are already sending up scapes.

It was a milder winter, which may have contributed to my earlier scapes, but this is about a month earlier than previous years for the scapes. I've got my fingers crossed the bulbs are a reasonable size.

Is your harvest earlier than previous years?
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Old May 15, 2019   #6
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Hello GoDawg and Zendog

I have just finished my research of the Farming Secrets Native Americans gave my people in 1800s. So I am going to try to help you: in my efforts of giving back to Miss Carolyn who is sick and Tomatoville.

Did you have any Alliums or Onions growing in that area last year? If so, that could be the Problem, Amen!

Although Onions are in the Allium Family Tree of Vegetables as to "WHy" I keep a map of my farmed areas and Vegetables grown in that location.. It is really important to wait a year in between Garlic and Onions. So crop rotation is a must. I use only organic soil. But, if you have to use Fertilizer, you can only use a slow releasing fertilizer around Garlic, Onions and any Member of the Allium Family of Vegetables.
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Old May 15, 2019   #7
zendog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJustice View Post
Hello GoDawg and Zendog

Did you have any Alliums or Onions growing in that area last year? If so, that could be the Problem, Amen!
Hmm... I am growing some onions, but this is the first time and they are separate from the garlic so I don't think that is the problem. And I certainly haven't fertilized too much, possibly too little.

Really, until I dig them and see the size I won't know what's up, but the main thing I see now is that they are sending up scapes significantly earlier than previous years.

I'm curious if the earliness is connected to the excess rain the OP and many of us on the east/southeast have been experiencing.

Last edited by zendog; May 15, 2019 at 06:52 PM.
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Old May 15, 2019   #8
gothicgardens
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I lost about half of my garlic this winter. I am blaming the extreme cold we had along with excessive snowfalls. They were all planted alike and covered in straw. The ones that survived look wonderful. Never had this happen in past years.
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Old May 17, 2019   #9
GoDawgs
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Zendog, the garlic was harvested the same time as last year.

MrsJ, I keep a map of my garden too which is easy as it's all raised beds. And I try for a three year crop rotation among veg families on all of them. Sometimes getting that planned out is like doing a jigsaw puzzle because I also plant stuff in the fall too.

Last year that bed had peas, in '17 it was cukes, in '16 there were turnips followed by mustard and in '15 there were beans.
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Old May 17, 2019   #10
bower
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It sounds like the high rainfall is the best explanation. They really don't like excess rain, and it doesn't sound like you had much chance to dry out, for months.


I never knew overfertilizing could be an issue, except for after scapes form and they are bulbing up. I will definitely keep that in mind (and will stop feeling bad that I never remember to feed them in the spring!)
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Old May 17, 2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
It sounds like the high rainfall is the best explanation. They really don't like excess rain, and it doesn't sound like you had much chance to dry out, for months.
I'm thinking that's it because I grew the garlic exactly the same way as I have the past two years which were successful. Same soil prep, same planting time, same fertilizing and application times. This third time *wasn't* the charm.
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Old May 18, 2019   #12
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I was on my phone and saw the third pictuer without reading and thought what on earth is there to complain about.

All I got was two heads of volunteer garlic this year and they were just about starting to divide when I pulled them.
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Old May 21, 2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
I'm thinking that's it because I grew the garlic exactly the same way as I have the past two years which were successful. Same soil prep, same planting time, same fertilizing and application times. This third time *wasn't* the charm.
I'm sorry that your harvest this year was disappointing. I know how you feel since I have been in same situation. My first two garlic growing years were successful and third one over half did not emerge after winter. Every year is different and I have found out that every year I learn more about growing garlic and especially the setbacks are most teaching experiences.

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