In further pest and pestilence news from the community garden, my garlic has developed a nasty rust fungus problem. And mine is by no means the only affected plot, thanks to a miserably cold and wet April and May. And June.
Thank heavens for our garden Education Committee of One who knew what it was and tenaciously spent time researching how to deal with it.
Notes-to-self if you are encountering this issue:
- The fungus can spread to leeks and onions also, but not other types of plants
- Caused by excess rain and lack of light and/or soil inadequacies
- Possible solutions: Create sprays with either baking soda, milk, neem oil (huh?) or chamomile tea (see recipes below)
- Cut off the leaves then dispose of them (NOT in your compost bin, people!) to ensure the fungus does not spread. Word on the street is, the stalk continues to photosynthesis even if you remove the leaves
- Disinfect your clippers, etc. also to ensure the fungus does not spread from plant to plant (this is serious, folks!)
- The good news is garlic rust does not appear to affect the garlic bulb — I pulled one to test and it looks just fine
Organic, Rust Fungus Spray Recipes
- 1 gallon water, 1Tbsp baking soda, 2.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1Tbsp milk per gallon water
- 1 tsp neem oil, 1Litre water or chamomile tea
These teas may be more preventative than cures; spray on infected leaves in morning for several days in a row (especially if rain is washing off leaves – the oil helps spray stick to leaf).
I have cut off all the leaves and am trying the baking soda recipe. I have no great hope of eradicating the rust, but I do hope to minimize any further infestation on both mine and my neighbours’ plants.
More on Garlic
If you want additional general info about garlic such as how and when to harvest and cure it, check out the Garlic Farm website, which I found in my garlic research travels.
They are located in British Columbia (middle of the province at the US border in a town appropriately named Midway), and sell organic garlic seed in Canada and the US. They start taking orders July 2nd on a first come, first serve basis for delivery in September. Get your order in now!