Garlic time again

It’s nearly the autumn equinox and time to plant garlic. I’ve ordered again from Yelwek Farms in Tassie—four bulbs of garlic (they sent five—they’re nice people) and also some more of their potato onions. They’ve just arrived. Look at the size of that garlic!:


I’m trying potato onions again although they weren’t overly successful last year; I don’t know why, unless the spot where I planted them was a bit too shady. I bought both white and brown potato onions and planted them in well-drained beds where they sprouted readily and grew lots of leaves. Then, over winter for some reason, the leaves began to die back and eventually all the plants rotted away. Not one single bulb from any of them. Was it something in the soil? Note to self: Google and see what attacks onions.

For some long-forgotten reason I pushed one bulb into the corner of a wicking box, not really expecting it to grow because I thought it would be too wet for it. Lo and behold, it grew and flourished and produced these:


Two dozen bulbs from one. Imagine if they’d all done that! I’d now be knee-deep in potato onions. And they weren’t small either—the same size as the new ones I’ve just ordered, so I’m keen to try again.

Yelwek garlic was successful for me last year, although my harvested bulbs were small. I’ve prepared the beds with more fertiliser this year. I’m wondering where to plant the potato onions this year. I think I’ll put some in the ground and some in a wicking box. I really want to be successful with them, they have such a lovely delicate flavour.

Well…in the process of writing this post, I’d written to Yelwek to say the onions and garlic had arrived and to thank them for refunding some of the postage (I told you they were nice people), and received a response from Lynn with some really useful info about growing potato onions. Here’s what she said:

They don’t like overwatering and once the tips of the leaves begin to die back (around mid November on) they don’t want water at all. The bulbs need a dryish  soil to harden and dry out. The occasional shower is okay, but if harvest is nearly ready and heavy rain is predicted, we harvest early rather than let the bulbs swell with the rainfall. The bulbs will not be good keepers at best. 
Having the bed raised even by 10 to 15 cms helps winter rains to drain quickly. We make walkways a spade’s width between beds and shovel the soil from the walkway up onto the beds. Mushroom compost mixed through the top 5cms of soil keeps the soil from becoming too compacted. We have a mushroom farm close by so it is economical for us to use it. 
Side dressing with fertiliser in Spring gives them a good boost along as does weeding so the roots don’t have to compete. Sometimes if we have time, we put a little mushroom compost around them again once Spring weeding and fertilising has been done, but the last couple of years we haven’t had the time and they have still done very well.

How about that for useful info. Thank you, Lynn. So I think my problems last year were due to overwatering and not something eating the bulbs. I don’t know why the bulb in the wicking box did so well then, but I will try some there again.

More on the strawberry wicking buckets: I’ve put them on the deck. It’s been so dry that the blackbirds are digging wherever there’s moisture and mulch, which happens to be in every garden bed and wicking box that’s being watered. I loathe them! They dig up seedlings and throw mulch everywhere. I’ve had to put nets over everything. They’re even coming up onto the deck where there are pots and wicking boxes. The handles on the strawberry buckets have come in handy:


Just right to throw a net over:



8 Responses to “Garlic time again”

  1. rabidlittlehippy Says:

    Yelwek are lovely aren’t they. 🙂 My potato onions thrived but I was a little lax on watering and the only ones that didn’t thruive were the ones I screwed too deep into the soil. I’ve just planted out some of my brown ones and I’ve ordered 800g more of the white ones as we’ve all discovered ust how awesome they are as fermented cocktail onions. (recipe here –
    I’ve saved my biggest and bestest garlic from last years crop to plant out this year. I think I need to double my garlic grown this year too. 🙂

    I did have a problem with 3 or 4 of my garlics last year in that they ended up with onion maggots in them. The fly lays the eggs at the base of the growth and then the largae hatch and eat down into the bulb. The leaves were curled and stunted and when I dug them up they smelled potently garlicky. They will also feed off any other alliums. The maggots themselves were miniscule but the rotten bulb was the give away. I poured brassica juice (brassica leaves soaked for a few days in water) liberally over my remaining plants. I don’t know if it stopped them, deterred them or did nothing but the rest of my crop was unaffected. It takes 6 years before you can replant alliums in the same place. Not sure if this is relevant or not with your potato onions last year or not but always worth sharing information. 🙂


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Jessie, thanks for the info and the link. I’ve just started reading that blog; I may have even found it through you.

      I didn’t know about onion maggots, will Google for more info. Thanks for sharing; that’s what blogging is all about after all.


      • rabidlittlehippy Says:

        I’m not a huge follower of her blog but it is my first go-to point if I’m looking up something fermented. 🙂

        Absolutely, that is the whole purpose of blogging. Sharing what we think and do and banding together in an online (and sometimes IRL too) community. 🙂


  2. narf77 Says:

    Bugger on your blackbirds eh? Maybe we can trade a few of each others bugbears and they will be easier to manage? I went up to vote on Saturday (fat lot of good it did but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and outside the local hall were some ladies with a plant stand and a few nick-nacks for sale. I picked up a couple of lovely little native orchids for almost nothing and as I was packing them into a box I noticed that they had a box of bulbs (mostly daffies) in paper bags. After having a pick through them I found 3 bags of brown potato onions! I couldn’t believe my luck and they even threw in another orchid to sweeten the deal. I only paid $2 a bag for my onions so consider myself lucky. I am going to plant them all out together (Jess bought me some earlier in the year) and see what happens. I will take note of what Lynn said but no problems on the dry soil here! 😉 I have garlic to plant out…best get planting! Cheers for the little nudge. I don’t know what I would do without you reminding me (have unplanted garlic in June is my guess 😉 )


    • foodnstuff Says:

      You can have my bugbears, but I don’t want any of yours, thanks very much!!

      Good result with the potato onions, I hope they do well. I bought again from Yelwek but they’re not cheap and I want to eventually be self-sufficient in them.


  3. Chris Says:

    Good wishes for your garlic and onions, they’re such a great staple. I have not succeeded in growing either, despite trying, but this year I’m going to plant garlic in a large, raised, terracotta pot. The bulbs are already in the fridge and just waiting to be planted out.

    Hope we both do well.

    Nifty idea with the bucket handles and netting too. I didn’t know black birds did that sort of thing. Perhaps they’re after the bugs who also like moist spots in the garden (aka: watered plants)?


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Garlic will do well in a large pot. That’s how I grew it the first year I tried.

      The blackbirds don’t normally bother about pots but it’s been so dry there’s no moisture anywhere except where I’m watering. I’m hoping when we get regular rains they’ll keep away. I’m tired of nets everywhere.


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