The Q&A Archives: Dying Baby Garlic

Question: My garlic has been in for three years. Every year it comes up healthy and fast, gets about 10 - 12 inches tall then dies. Do I have them too close maybe? Soil is sunny and well drained. Also, do they like alot of plant food, acid or not? Thanks so much for your help, as I am a new spice gardener. Burpee, your the Best. You have helped me so much.

Answer: Herb gardening can be quite rewarding. But it's frustrating when you have problems and don't know what's wrong. Remember that just as we need clean air and pure water for existence, plants need the very best in soils for their survival. Many new gardeners overlook this. Soil should be dug deeply, and amended with lots of organic matter such as compost or leaves. Since plants take nutrients from the soil, it's up to us as gardeners to replenish the soil to keep it healthy and alive for the plants we grow. Plan to build a compost pile this year so you have ready access to this tremendously important soil amendment!

It's likely that your garlic could be suffering from nematodes which are microscopic worms which attack plant roots. Creating a healthy environment (soil) will lessen the ability of the nematodes to survive in the soil. There are three other things to try. Choose varieties that are resistant to root nematodes. Always rotate your crops so the same members of the crop family (e.g., garlic and onion) are not grown in the same spot in successive years. And plant marigold with your garlic since they are purported to repel the nematodes.

Garlic can be fertilized lightly when it's planted, but providing a good healthy organic rich soil is the best nutrition for the plants. Good luck with your garlic and herbs this year!

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