The Cottage Smallholder

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A poor harvest of garlic and shallots

fresh garlicWe thought we would try planting garlic and shallots in February, rather than the Autumn this year. I also planted some red onion sets. By April all seemed to be going well. Then in early July, I noticed small round seed heads forming on the garlic last. I snipped them off immediately but I knew that this spurt of growth would have had an impact on the bulbs.

I harvested the garlic yesterday. Small bulbs, a few have tight heads but some already seem to be opening and clearly will not last long. The shallots have given a poor harvest too. Most of the bulbs are smaller than the sets that I put in. The red onions are a joke. In fact I suddenly realised that I was standing on them as I harvested the garlic. They are so small that they are almost invisible.

I don’t know whether these disasters are down to the weather or the early planting. We have always had good crops of garlic and shallots planted in September. So we are now going to go back to Autumn planting.

In September 2005 I bought Albigensian Wight garlic sets from DT Brown. This was lifted and dried in July 2006. This variety kept so well that we are enjoying the final head now. It is only just starting to shoot. DT Brown hasn’t got it listed on the website this year but I have found it here. The Garlic Farm has a great reputation. Incidentally, I noticed that they have a stand at Borough Market on a Saturday. I am also tempted by the garlic lovers planting selection pack and the shallots, although the prices are a bit steep. If they produce good crops they will be worth the investment.

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  1. My shallots were also small. I’ve decided to replant most of them! Fortunately, most of our garlic did well, but I had hoped for larger heads. Oh well, some things are out of our hands.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate, That’s a great idea! I think I’ll try onions and some garlic in pots too.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. Kate(uk)

    Garlic and onions like a good roasting in the sun and they just haven’t had that this year,even my chives are unhappy.I’m going to try onions in little pots next year, a champion veg grower came to talk to our horticultural society and he grows his onions (not just the giant ones) individually in small pots and says he finds this ensures a good harvest every year as he can shelter then from excessive rain and pop them into the sunshine, when we have any- I’m going to give it a try next year, can’t be worse then this year!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Amanda,

    Well done growing decent onions and leeks. I’m v envious.

    Hi Celia,

    I hope that it’s just the weather and we both don™t have onion white rot in the soil!

    Hi Sara,

    Your floods must have been devastating. I often think of you when I am wailing about our poor harvests.

    Hi Kate,

    It looks like it is the cold, rainy weather that has caused the disasters. Now we have sun and everything seems OK again!

    Hi Pat,

    DT Brown is a great company. Everything that I have bought from them has thrived.

    Hi Caroline,

    A row of our garlic just vanished too! I can™t remember which cultivar it was (MUST make notes “ I always think I™ll remember but never do).

  5. Caroline

    Hello, I’m new on this site but it has provided me with so much useful info so far. Anyway my red spring onions have turned into the teeniest red onions ever; one lot of garlic looked like it was going to be fabulous and the other lot seems to have dissapeared. Finally my white onions really aren’t going to be any bigger than shallots. What a year!

  6. I am sure it is the weather too. Thanks for the DT Brown site. I will be sending in an order for some seeds soon.

  7. I think it must be the weather … there just hasn’t been enough sun and heat for crops like garlic and onions. At least that’s my hunch. Next year will be better …definitely!

  8. farmingfriends

    Sorry your onion and garlic harvest was poor so was mine. I have no red onions although they were under water for a week! Interesting to hear that you are only just using up your 2006 garlic harvest.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  9. Snap! – our shallots and onions have been an absolute disaster this year. Looked fantastic one week then a miserable mouldy mess the next! I’ve got a suspicion that we’ve got onion white rot in the soil (bad news for all alliums) but I just can’t not grow any for 15 years or whatever the books say. If spring is damp and fairly mild and late May and July are dryish and sunny then I think all would be OK (dream on!!!!)

  10. Being a newbie to grow your own I don’t know the answer but sorry that they haven’t done well.

    We planted a few onions and leeks and they’ve done well. About the only thing we’ve had no problems with at all. Very strange.

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