Just before Christmas, Richard and I lifted the last of the garlic. This included the Takahue and Ajo Roja varieties.

Just like our early varieties, it was small. It had suffered rust, but very little of it fully rotted out with fungal issues.

After lifting it, I put it in the container and mostly tried not to think about it.

It cured as I was taking a break over the holiday period. After my annual gift to Dad, keeping some for ourselves, and giving some away, I was left with a little shy of 4kg of garlic to sell.

Not for growing

This week I got around to processing it – taking off the stems and roots, and making sure it was in good condition.

I’m not going back to growing garlic this year. Usually I would hold a pile of it to become seed garlic, but that’s not the case in 2024. It’s all gotta go! There is a chance I will grow it for personal use some time in the future, but it’s been a tough nut to crack.

Garlic (especially the hard-necks) does grow in Northland, but it’s still a risky business. And growing it in big numbers year after year after year has really not paid off for me.

Without access (or the desire to use) the chemicals used to prevent rust by commercial growers, it’s tough. The rust comes in, and infects the entire crop. It stunts the growth right when it’s meant to be racing ahead. It becomes this race against time and honestly, I’ve had enough.

My gardens and I both need the break.

5 years work

I’ve been collecting and growing my garlic since 2018. I’ve been really passionate about it, and that means it’s broken my heart, repeatedly.

5 different varieties have been growing well in my garden over that time, and I’ve learned loads. But there’s other things going on in my life now – a house to build, a course to teach. There’s no room for this struggle anymore.

So for now, the remaining stock of my garlic is on sale – for eating purposes – in mixed lots. You’ll get a lucky dip of varieties, and I promise you that this garlic is not available in stores.

Shallots and leeks

Of course, we still love alliums. We’re about to plant out the annual set of leek seedlings. The shallots have recently come out and provided a nice enough harvest.

Each November I sow an entire packet of leek seeds, then split them with a neighbour in January for planting out. It’s become an annual tradition that keeps both our households harvesting from our own gardens each year.

The leeks do pick up rust, but usually only once the garlic has been fully infected, and to a lesser degree.

Shallot harvest 2023

The shallots seem mostly unbothered by the rust, which is lovely. My purchase from KĊanga Institute in 2019 is still paying off for me, though probably not as well as usual this year.

Still, I’ll put 10 aside again this year and pop them in when I’d usually spend hours planting garlic.

Get them while they’re here

All is not lost for me – at least I got a garlic harvest, even if it was too disappointing to want to try again. And I’d like to recoup some of the effort I’ve put into them over the last 5 years.

So the last of my garlic is now on sale (for eating purposes, I don’t recommend you try to grow it), you can buy it below if you’re interested. The price is reflective of where the market is right now – priced at the advertised per kilo price from my local supermarket.

Still, you get quite a lot for that money. And people who have purchased or been given it in the past have told me that my garlic tastes better and lasts longer than the supermarket stuff. It’s not something I’ve purchased in a long time, so I guess we’ll have to take their word for it.