I had high hopes for this year’s garlic crop. Based on results over the past couple of years, where four seed-stock bulbs resulted in forty plants and a harvest of around 36 good-sized bulbs, I was confident of a repeat performance. Last Autumn I used the same seed stock supplier and same planting method again – maybe positioning the cloves a little deeper – and rotated the planting location out of raised bed #2 and into first section of the long veg bed.
All seemed to be going well – strong growth, plenty of leaf and stem, no bolting – until last weekend, when I grabbed my garden fork and lifted the first few bulbs…
A horrible sight greeted me: rot, and lots of it. Some stems just broke away from the mush that maybe used to be a garlic bulb. Some bulbs had barely formed and were mostly mush anyhow. Others could have been halfway-decent, if not for the white mould, black skin and odour of rot. From the 40 cloves I planted last Autumn, I think I can salvage maybe eight or nine bulbs, of which two might be the sort of thing you can pick up in Sainsburys for 30p each.
I think the culprit has to be the piss-poor Spring. The plants seemed to have over-wintered nicely, despite the particularly harsh conditions, but then when Spring was delayed they just weren’t able to get up to speed. Too much cold, too much moisture. Bad luck all round.
So it goes, I suppose. But garlic is such a favourite, and usually such a reliable cropper, that this is a particularly disappointing result. Fingers crossed for better luck next year.