Garlic and potato onion failures

georgia_transplant(7b)June 24, 2009

At the beginning of November last year, I planted yellow potato onion sets (from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) and garlic cloves (a Creole variety I bought from Gourmet Garlic Gardens). I planted them in 9" raised beds filled with a few different types of compost, about 4-6" apart.

The garlic tops seemed to grow well, produced flowers and then the leaves turned brown. Then I harvested them. The onion tops grew (although not as full as some onion tops I've seen, but maybe that depends upon the variety?), then after about half to two-thirds of them flopped over, I harvested them too.

Each garlic plant I pulled had about 6-8 cloves, but they had not coalesced into a head of garlic. The onions I pulled looked exactly like what I put in the ground - very small onions. I didn't see any evidence of pests or disease in any parts of either the garlic or the onions. I read somewhere that the garlic not forming heads may be a moisture problem. We just had one of the wettest winters and springs on record here, and I did almost no additional watering as a result.

Any suggestions? I e-mailed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and so far they haven't gotten back to me.

Thank you for any help you can offer. I am still a very new gardener and so far my luck has not been very good.

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You did a couple of things wrong with the garlic. First, by not breaking off the "flowers" when they started up, you let the garlic put its energy into those instead of the bulbs. The flower heads are full of clone bulbils, smaller than the cloves in the garlic head, but identical. They can be planted to increase your stock, but it usually takes two years for them to mature instead of the single year it takes a clove to mature to a head. The second thing you did wrong was to let the plants get too mature. You should dig them when just two or three leaves turn yellow (not brown), or the wrappers deteriorate and the heads fall apart.

I haven't tried potato onions yet, so I don't know what to say about those.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:14PM
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Thanks so much Catherine! Your garlic advice makes alot of sense. I'm writing it in my journal so hopefully my next garlic planting will be successful.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:16PM
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Potato onions I grow are about the diameter of a half dollar when planted and divide 6-8 times over the season. They were starting to flop this past week. So im pulling and drying them now. Average clump is about the size of a baseball.

They should be planted on the surface of the ground like shallots.

When I first started growing them I was planting them way to deep and hardly got anything out of them. This could be your problem?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 8:29AM
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Don't be so sad about the potato onion failure. There is always a room for improvement. You can learn them every step of the way and through internet research. There are so many easy to follow guide in planting potato onions. Actually I found one from Google and I attached the link for your reference.

I hope this helps you.

Here is a link that might be useful: egyptian onion

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 1:15PM
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