End of Season Review - Garlic & Shallots
The winter of 2014/2015 was particularly frigid – a few records were broken and we had several days where it went down to -40C/F. But the garlic was a champ – every single clove I planted the previous fall survived.
2015 Garlic Harvest
The garlic was given the same amount of space as the year before & I grew roughly the same number of bulbs but the total harvest was up by 766 grams (1.69 lbs), which is always a good thing as we LOVE our garlic around here.
There was, however, one very interesting fact about the size of the heads I harvested: Every single head from one of the new varieties was smaller than the “mother” head from which the cloves originated.
As I didn’t have a large quantity of planting stock when it came to the newly purchased varieties - many of them were single bulbs - I sowed all of the cloves, regardless of size. Bulb size does relate to the size of the clove that was planted, so I can see that this may have been a factor for some of the bulbs….but definitely not all of them.
The garlic obviously suffered from lack of water, just like everything else, but I also think that it may not have been receiving sufficient nutrients. I had prepped the bed as I normally do (compost, chicken pellets, etc) and applied a foliar spray once or twice in the spring, but that was about it.
The garlic scapes, on the other hand, saw a big jump, going from 304 grams (0.67 lbs) in 2014 to 854 grams (1.88 lbs) in 2015.
|First harvest of scapes in June|
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
Not a great garlic year - the harvest totals were up but the fact that all of the bulbs were smaller than those that I started out with has me a bit worried.
The garlic for the 2016 crop was planted this past October and I upped the soil amendments in the bed quite a bit. Firstly, I planted them in a hilltop bed that received a good quantity of compost in the spring and in which beans were grown this past season (hopefully adding lots of nitrogen to the soil). In addition, I doubled the amount of composted manure & chicken pellets that I normally use. I also added soybean & kelp meal. In the spring, I plan to fertilize a couple of times with a liquid kelp fertilizer.
When I planted the bulbs in the fall, I decided to keep the 5” spacing unchanged. I would rather test the fertilization methods first before I start increasing the spacing, which would ultimately lead to fewer bulbs overall.
I grew two varieties of shallots this past year - Golden shallots & seed grown Camelot shallots.
In the fall of 2014, I tried a little experiment with the Camelot shallots - I wondered what would happen if I planted the bulbs (that had been grown from seed) in the fall, just like I do the Golden shallots. Well, the answer is that they survived the winter just fine and they even divided as regular shallots do - but then they all bolted.
|Overwintered Camelot Shallots & Garlic Scapes|
The Camelot shallots grown from seed performed very well, in spite of the irrigation issues this season. I harvested more or less the same as the 2014 quantity of 33 bulbs weighing 2.7 kg (6.04 lbs).
Overall Impressions & Plan for Next Year
I'm quite satisfied with the shallot harvest this past year & it should take us through until next summer just fine. It would have been nice had the Golden shallots divided properly, but I don't mind the fewer, larger bulbs that much.
I've already determined that I don't need two full beds of onions, so the shallots will be taking up space in the onion bed this coming season instead of in the garlic bed...which means more garlic for us - YAY! This also means I won't have to net the garlic bed. When leek moths* first made an appearance in my garden, the garlic was not affected but since I grew the shallots in the same bed & they did sustain leek moth* damage, it had to be netted.
I will not be making any other changes, either with methods or variety. Both types of shallots play a role in the kitchen - if I need a larger one, I reach for the Camelot; if only a tablespoon or two is required, I go for the Golden shallots.
The Golden shallots are already in the ground, having been planted at the same time as the garlic in late October. Camelot will be grown from seed....in fact, I will be doing that this week.
*I originally thought that the alliums were being attacked by onion maggots but have subsequently realized that, in fact, I was dealing with leek moths so have adjusted this post accordingly.