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Garlic & Shallots, Updated

Most of the garlic and shallots that were planted in October have started growing in one way or another. One of the interesting things we’ve observed is that some varieties came up fast and have put on a lot of top growth. Others have put on next to no top growth. I don’t want to disturb the soil, so I don’t know if they are still alive or if not all the cloves are going to grow.

This variety – Maiskij – came up very quickly and already has a lot of top growth.

In comparison, Purple Glazer has grown well, but the plants are smaller than the Maiskij.

The other varieties, like Chesnok Red (pictured) and Persian Star have very little top growth. We won’t be able to tell for sure until spring, but here is my suspicion. The varieties showing less top growth are varieties that typically do well in colder, more northern climates. It would make sense that one of the reasons they do better is that they do not put on lots of leaves in the fall. The varieties that have more leaves are those that are supposed to thrive in warmer climates with milder winters. Again…it makes sense that those varieties could survive and thrive with more leaves in the fall/winter.

With what looks to be a mild winter on the horizon, I would expect that those “warm weather” varieties should do better for us. We will have to wait and see!

The shallots are also showing some differences in growth. I’m really excited about the Gray Shallots (shown here), because they are the true “gourmet” shallots. The plants are already beautiful! Even though a single shallot is planted in each spot (like a single onion set), the plants are multi-stemmed? clumped? shooted? I’m not sure what the right term is. Anyway, shallots grow from a single shallot and produce mulitple shallots in each clump. You can already see those divisions taking place in these plants.

The other thing you may have noticed is that we have a light layer of straw mulch that is on all the plants. It isn’t very thick, but it will provide a little bit of protection and also should help hold moisture as the weather is still very dry.

The other think I noticed, even though I don’t have a closeup picture of it, is that all the garlic and shallot plants are showing a little bit of damage from thrips already. Thrip damage looks like little silvery streaks/spots on the leaves. I suspect that the combination of the drought conditions and warm weather have resulted in a higher than normal population.

The next update about the garlic will probably be in the spring, when the scapes start showing up! Yum!

A Little Bit of Rain

How much rain did you get last night? Here at the office, the rain gauge measured about 1.5 inches. That’s a good start! However, don’t assume that things are now back to “normal” or that some parts of your yard or garden don’t still need more water.

Areas that have been well-watered and have good loamy soil probably soaked up a lot of the rain – like our raised beds. Other areas that haven’t been watered as well (or at all) or that have heavy clay soil probably didn’t soak up near as much of that rain as you might wish.

Case in point – our other horticulture agent went out with a soil probe this morning to see how far the water soaked into different spots in our Arboretum, which has been largely unwatered and has clay soils. Here are his results:

  • On a slope, the rain soaked in about a half inch. Yikes, not very much! That rain mostly ran off.
  • On a flat surface, the rain soaked in about 3 inches. Okay, that’s better, but still not great. If we get more rain, this will improve.
  • In a spot with a slight depression (where that rain sat after running off the slopes), it soaked in 6 inches. That’s more like it! Still not getting very deep, but it will provide a little relief.

The moral of the story – we need about a week of gentle rainfall so that it can soak in thoroughly, but this is a good start!

I’m done being a downer now – the next post will be more exciting!