Our District

Garlic: Rust Never Sleeps

Last year Kāpiti gardeners struggled with rust on their garlic due to the wet summer.  Rust, which causes rust-coloured spots on foliage, is spread by spores and thrives in humid conditions - and there’s not a lot we can do about the weather. But there are some things you can do to prevent rust this season:

  • Grow garlic in a different bed – last year’s beds will be full of rust spores. This crop rotation may not eliminate disease, but at least puts you one step ahead.
  • Ideally, use clean cloves. I am using last year’s garlic as seed, but because it had rust (though not enough to stop a decent crop), I’ll try soaking the cloves for a few hours before planting in some liquid seaweed, mixed with an organic fungicide.
  • Space the bulbs out well, to allow plenty of airflow. Imagine the fattest garlic bulb you have ever seen, then double that distance between cloves. (Maybe about 15cm, for those who prefer precise measurements)
  • Add plenty of compost – garlic is in the ground a long time, so it needs lots of food. Feed monthly with liquid seaweed or comfrey from springtime on.
  • Keep the garlic weed-free. Use straw mulch over winter to keep weeds away, but don’t mulch heavily in spring as this can encourage fungi.

Kath Irvine of Edible Backyard, a font of garden knowledge, has written an e-book about garlic, available to download on her website for $6. If you haven’t seen her website or been on one of her courses, check them out – I’ve learned so much from her. Click on this link to see the book: Grow Great Garlic - http://www.ediblebackyard.co.nz/garlic-ebook-by-kath-irvine/

The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.

Community Visits and workshops are free. Get together five friends or neighbours and invite the Green Gardener round.

Contact Hannah through the Council Service Desk 296 4700 or at greengardener@kapiticoast.govt.nz

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