Devastation in the garden

Well, the devastation is more in my heart. I’m cross, frustrated and feeling pretty damned flat to be honest. Martin is the one likely to be most devastated.

I’ve had 3 wonky garlic plants in the garden now for a while which I’ve been watching and trying to decide what to do about them. Sadly I wasn’t at my brightest as it never occurred to me to dig the silly things up. I wish I had. I finally hit up Dr Google the other day to research what causes curled stunted and yellowed leaves in garlic and I was gutted to learn that there are dozens of things that do. 😦 No help there. I kept reading, trawling through agriculture reports with pesticide recommendations (bleuch :() and finally hit upon what I thought was right. I kept reading. Yep, things fitted. But did they really. Onion Yellow Dwarf Virus or OYDV seemed to fit but just not quite right so I kept reading then tripped across onion maggots.

As I’ve mentioned before I am not so good with creepy crawlies so I was not looking forward to researching this topic too much I can tell you. I read up somewhat, looked at a picture or 2 and found that symptoms seemed to fit VERY closely. Then I found this blog post and the picture (4th picture down) of the stunted garlic looked very familiar. Here’s my garlic for comparison.


This one is standing (curling up and dying) alone.


On the far side of the garden bed to the others.


Then 2 all but next to each other.


Not a happy little garlic.

So this morning I went out to find out. NOT a happy morning. Digging for maggots is not what  would call a great start to the day. Finding them makes it even worse. Here is what I dug up and saw this morning. 😦

2 of the 3 culprits currently in the old spud box where we compost our cat poo (the compost is safe to use around fruit trees and ornamentals but not near vegetables and such, particularly root veggies).

2 of the 3 culprits currently in the old spud box where we compost our cat poo (the compost is safe to use around fruit trees and ornamentals but not near vegetables and such, particularly root veggies).

The rotting and chewed up bulb left behind by the maggots.

The rotting and chewed up bulb left behind by the maggots.


I just hope the rest of the crop doesn’t look like this.

I am now trying to decide what to do with the rest of the garlic in that bed, the 2 beds of potato onions, the bed of leeks and onions (one of the leeks had been gifted but the recipient has been warned not to compost the roots and to keep a close eye out). The leeks, onions and potato onions all appear to be happy and healthy but I have noticed some yellowing in the leaves of other garlic although the leaves are appearing healthy otherwise. What to do. Dig up all the garlic in the bed with the 3 infested plants? Dig up the neighbouring bed too, one or all? How very frustrating and it’s pretty devastating for the prospect of us harvesting a years supply of garlic for my garlic addicted husband.

It's a bit blurry  (iPhones do not do high quality close up shots I'm afraid) but I've circled what I think are the maggots.

It’s a bit blurry (iPhones do not do high quality close up shots I’m afraid) but I’ve circled what I think are the maggots.

And this one either had other bugs or the same ones at a different stage in their life cycle.

And this one either had other bugs or the same ones at a different stage in their life cycle.

If I have identified them wrong and you can point me in the right direction, or if you have dealt with the same problem and have any hints and tips I would greatly appreciate any advice you have to share.

It’s not a good day in the garden. 😦

15 thoughts on “Devastation in the garden

  1. graceoverflowing says:

    Oh no! It is hard to know what to do. Is there any natural treatments you can use that may help the others? I guess you can look at it in two ways. You lose the garlic crop but maggots or pulling them up but if you pull them up you are hopefully able to save the rest of the bulbs. Better to lose one crop than the whole bed. Good luck w decisions.

    • There are some natural things I can do and will be doing. Chillies, garlic, onions and soapy water mix, I read somewhere that brassicas can be used to treat them too and I have some brussel sprouts that won’t set now that I can pull up, soak and use the water to pour over the garden (I can’t find the link now though) and sprinkling ginger, cayenne pepper and all those spicy spices around repels the flies and stops them laying but for the eggs already laid the damage is done and I guess the maggots are safe and sound underground and in the garlic bulb by then anyway. Still, worth the expense of some ginger methinks. 🙂

  2. narf77 says:

    Sigh…nature is always out for her cut when it comes to our hard work! I would be pouring every spicy hot pungent thing onto the sods but if they are wriggling happily and enjoying garlic’s heated spice methinks they are somewhat immune to the hot stuff. I wonder if the damp conditions made it easier for them to infest your garlic? Might be worth looking into and hopefully it is reasonably easy to eradicate. All in all a sad day for Martin indeed! 😦

    • From what I’ve read they can be a bugger to eradicate as they will feed on anything allium left in the garden and you can’t plant there for 3 (I’ve also read 6) years and with 3 beds of garlic, 2 of potato onions, one of onions and leeks and another with a few garlic bulbils growing up I have only 2 of my raised beds can carry alliums next year. It’s a huge blow although I will plant garlic again next year, just somewhere else yet to be figured out (I might play mix and match and plant them amongst other plants next year). High organic matter, particularly that still breaking down and the damp both contribute although the former doesn’t apply in this case.Hopefully the other plants are unaffected and continue to grow good garlic for us. I’m still pretty cross about it all but then as you say, nature is out for her cut and I guess these flies and maggots are just doing what they do. I do have a bit of a mono crop happening, albeit smaller scale. Lessons learned.

  3. LyndaD says:

    Oh Dear, how damm frustrating for both of you. Bloody Bloody Bloody…. see im swearing for you. Though even in your frustration you are still helping me. I was just about to throw a big pile of healthy sprout plants to my friends chooks (since my girls wont eat them) when you mentioned that you would soak them – green compost tea. Clever girl. Im going to find a big bucket tomorrow.

    • The sprout ants are more than a compost tea. Brassicas contain something that onion maggots don’t like I think. I read something about it but cannot find the link now. 😦 Something in brassicas as they break down is bad for onion maggots from memory. I dug up 3 more plants to check for worms, replanted 2 and discarded a 3rd. I’ve nothing to lose by brassica water but a LOT to save. 🙂

  4. Jo says:

    Oh, so sad! My garlic leaves often have yellowy streaks, but it doesn’t seem to affect the bulbs. I think it might be a virus as opposed to maggots. Whenever this kind of thing happens I am grateful for vegie shops. Imagine how terrifying it would be if you HAD to live off your crops and they failed…
    If you are going to plant marigolds as nematode repellers, they need to be African marigolds, tagetes, not calendula, and you need to plant LOTS.
    All the best – hope you can save some..

    • Thanks for the tip on marigolds. Typical though that the calendula off which I hope to keep the petals are not going to help me in the veggie beds. 😦
      Yes, living off ones crops must be a scary venture but at the end of the day, garlic is wonderful and healthful but it’s not a staple crop for bulk. I can understand the devastation of the potato blight in Ireland and the famine that followed much more now. I’ve learned an important lesson about mono cropping though.

      • Jo says:

        I planted a packet of calendula seeds 12yrs ago, and they still pop up every year! I dry them for tea, and the bees love them, and the flowers make me so happy..

  5. […] of the biggest and best from the garden for this years planting, I have 12 braids. Given my earlier fears of losing my entire crop I am, to say the very least, over the moon! No other plants were affected by the maggots and […]

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