How can I avoid getting rust on my garlic?

Traditionally the shortest day of the year - 21 June, is the time to plant garlic but anytime from May through till the end of July/ August is usually fine. The trick is that garlic needs a good winter chill for the bulbs to develop. However, last year a lot of people struggled with rust (pictured).

Rust is a fungal disease that affects garlic, leeks and onions. It can impact bulb development and also kill your whole crop.

Rust doesn’t cause too much of a problem if the garlic bulb is well-established before it gets the rust but it can cause stunted plants if your garden gets hit with it early.

So, to avoid that happening we recommend getting your garlic plants in as early as possible. Look for a place with good air circulation and if you had rust in the last 2-3 years on your garlic or onions, make sure you plant them in a different spot this year.  Dig in some compost, and a good general fertiliser or use a potting mix if you're planting in baskets or pots. Dig a little hole and place each garlic plant inside it. Fill it in with soil so the leaves stick out the top.

We also found that keeping your garlic growing actively is key to preventing rust. What we mean by this is to keep an eye on your garlic and if you notice that it's a bit dry add a bit of fertiliser and not wait a month or so do to this. If things are slow this is generally when diseases such as rust appear. We also recommend watering the base of the plant rather than leaves, this stops any diseases from spreading. To encourage larger bulbs apply Tui Organic Seaweed throughout the season.

Once a month put 20ml of liquid copper in a watering can and water your garlic.

If you do get rust on your garlic go here for tips on what to do. For tips on harvesting your garlic go here.

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