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Old August 12, 2016   #1
bower
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Default how to salvage garlic harvest

I just pulled my main porcelain crop yesterday, finding about a third of them have major damage to the wrappers near the roots - the tulip bulb mite seems to be the culprit as I've been trying to clean up the bad ones I can see the buggers crawling around.

Sooo. I would like to eat as much of this garlic as I can salvage, but not sure what to do next. I want to take quick action to kill the mites. Hot water would do it, but would the remaining garlic be still fit to eat?
Thought about using some alcohol to kill em. Again not sure how this would affect the undamaged cloves. Run to the store, buy wine, splash on garlic, drink the rest.... might work.
Or some kind of vodka-hot water dip, hoping to shorten the kill time?

Then again, maybe I should just strip all the wrappers off, consign THEM to boiling water for the kill, put all the stripped uncured garlic into the blender with some oil and use as is.
Going to be very garlicky around here for awhile, if this has to be quickly consumed.

Could I possibly remove the afflicted cloves and let the rest of it cure for a bit? Or too much risk that the mites will escape me, and even put my seed garlics at risk.
Also thinking of dusting all the selected seed garlic with DE.
I don't know how easily these mites spread themselves around or how they would travel inside the house here to ruin everything....
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Old August 12, 2016   #2
Worth1
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Oil will kill the mites about as fast as anything and not hurt the garlic.
But then you will have an oily mess on your hands literally.

Worth
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Old August 12, 2016   #3
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Oil will kill the mites about as fast as anything and not hurt the garlic.
But then you will have an oily mess on your hands literally.

Worth
I heard that 2% soap and 2% mineral oil killed them better than anything.
Can't do that and eat it though.

I'm down to the grim wrappers now, midway through a trial and error of hot water rinsing in the end I had to just peel em down to the cloves. The cloves are still fine at this point, but the bulbs are so wet and green, the wrappers are tearing off the cloves when I pull them apart.
So zero chance of letting them cure a little or eating them as needed.
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Old August 12, 2016   #4
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Well you could eat the mineral oil but not the soap.

You could use any vegetable oil as all it does is suffocate them.

I would recommend fermenting them.
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Old August 12, 2016   #5
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What a disappointment!

Would freezing kill them? I know many people chop and freeze their garlic rather than curing it for long term storage.
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Old August 12, 2016   #6
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I know nothing about those type of mites but last year I dehydrated some garlic cloves for garlic powder and I had really good results. Just slice the cloves and dehydrate the slices.

I ground them up in my coffee mill and then cleaned the mill by grinding some white rice and throwing it away.

I have chopped and frozen onions too with good results so maybe chopped garlic would freeze well too. I don't know.

If you submerge your cloves in plain water, will the mites float to the top and then you can air dry the cloves?
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Old August 12, 2016   #7
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Sorry to hear of your garlic woes

Here's an idea for when you have dealt with the mites.

Put the cloves in a blender with a little water (and some raw ginger too if you like it). Then freeze it in a baggie. Make it as flat as you can, then you can break pieces off it to add to your cooking. I often do this as a time-saver.

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Old August 12, 2016   #8
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Now that the garlic is out of the ground, if you dried and cured outside, might they leave?
Been growing for decades and never had a bug. Can you use these for next year's crop.
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Old August 12, 2016   #9
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Now the soil is infested with them too, no way would I replant any of that garlic and the planting spot needs to be rotated to try and get rid of them.

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Old August 12, 2016   #10
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Aw, what a disappointment. My first thoughts were to take the cleaned cloves and whiz some up with olive oil and freeze (in flat packs as mentioned above), then slice and dehydrate the rest. Save whatever seems OK for fresh use in the near term. For various reasons (weather and a very bad knee) my garlic crop is the worst one ever. It was harvested too late, and I know it will not keep. So will be giving a lot away to be used soon, then the rest will be frozen and dehydrated. Best wishes to recover as much as you can.
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Old August 12, 2016   #11
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Link on bulb mites.
https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/bulb-mites
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Old August 12, 2016   #12
bower
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Thanks everyone for all the helpful suggestions.
It seems that these mites like the warm and humid weather kicking in so close to harvest time. We had some thundershowers that really drenched the ground, and that new bed is all organic matter so it holds the moisture very well. Definitely to put on a long rotation. I'm still learning, may find more optimum places for garlic here.
The plants were very green without many brown leaves, and I wasn't sure they were ready to pull at all. But I saw a couple of plants went all of a sudden, pulled those a week ago and they looked like pics of 'basal plate rot' pretty pink all over the bulb and the wrappers getting gone. Then I pulled a couple yesterday and saw the wrappers coming off and rusty color around the root so I pulled the lot.
After cleanup of the worst bulbs, it's not as bad as I thought. Four or five I had to strip down to the cloves but the cloves are intact and fit to eat, although sadly I broke the wrappers taking them apart, they are so green and wet they stuck together. So I will have to try the freezing tricks.
Also cleaned four more under hot running water mainly the roots, got the damaged wrappers off and still a few around them so I have put them to cure separately, and will see how that affects the drying out. I put all the dirty wrappers etc in a bucket and filled with very hot water to kill the bugs before I compost the stuff.
Also checked and cleaned up the bulbs I pulled early - and surprised to find the cloves are still firm, the bad wrappers just peeled off and although they're split apart they seem to be curing ok and good enough to eat but not long storage. Looks like the pink was just their own colours showing through.
I still have 19 better looking bulbs of the Argentina which I hope to find some good enough for seed, I'll be cleaning them up tomorrow. The Music were mostly good, and I guess I'll be watching the Spanish Roja like a hawk, they are in the same bed as Argentina but they need another week to size up, so I hope it's a dry one.
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Old August 12, 2016   #13
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Henry, that is an excellent link on the bulb mites. Thanks!

I guess my bulb cleaning skills are going to be tested. I would hate to lose my Argentina seed stock.

My tap water is 140 F at hottest. That is supposed to be hot enough to kill most insects in short order, so I feel pretty confident about the bulbs that were washed off - if it doesn't damage them. But now I'm concerned about smaller numbers, since even a few can lurk about and spread when opportunity knocks.
Father's Daughter gave me a link last year, they recommended soaking cloves in kelp and baking soda solution for 24 hours then an alcohol dip before planting. I may try that, assuming I do have some bulbs that 'appear' to be perfect enough for seed.

What do you think about dusting my seed stock with DE? To protect against any spread of mites.
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Old August 12, 2016   #14
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You could try soaking the cloves in soapy water for 24 hours before planting it has been used as a control for bulb mites.
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Last edited by henry; August 13, 2016 at 06:28 AM.
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Old October 10, 2016   #15
bower
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Just thought I would post an update on my miscellaneous experiments in mite control.

The garlic that had obvious mite action and damage on the outer wrappers, I tried a three minute soak in 140 F water for some of the bulbs. This is not something I would repeat, because the heat caused "waxy breakdown" of some of the cloves. Those were the bulbs I broke up and ate first also dried the good ones for garlic powder (awesome stuff!!). There were only one or two cloves with visible mite damage at this point - freshly harvested - so salvaging was definitely worthwhile but harming the uncured cloves with heat, not such a good plan.

I also took several bulbs and processed as follows: First of all cut the stem back to 6-8 inches instead of keeping the greens on for curing. Removed outer wrapper with visible damage (rusty spots or streaks). Rusty sign could be seen around the roots as well, this time I used a nail brush to scrub the roots under hot running water (140 F). These garlic were then patted dry and set aside to cure in isolation.
I just moved these bulbs to the kitchen last week, and very impressed with their condition. they cured perfectly and were very clean, no sign of further mite activity.

On Saturday night I cracked and inspected my seed garlic - which I'd picked out as the best of the lot and also cured in isolation from the rest. All mite free except one bulb from the afflicted porcelain - when I broke the outer wrappers which are now loose, I found rusty streaks on the inside and with a hand lens I could see little white 'pearly' mites on the rusty part. Not moving and not many but there nonetheless.
Since the infested bulb was with its fellers in storage I wanted to give them some treatment but did not have time for a 24 hour soak - instead I opted for the 3-4 minute soak in 40% alcohol just prior to planting. Fingers crossed.
Also, since the 'scrubbed roots' garlic was so clean and perfect, I decided to make up for the bad bulb with some cloves from two of these. I didn't soak them in anything but marked on my map where they were planted. I don't even know if germination might be affected by the hot water scrub but I guess I'll find out.

Meanwhile I'm taking a hard look at the garlic I cured for eating this winter, with the thought that some damage may still be going on unseen. For eating and storage purposes, I would definitely do the root scrubbing in hot water - cure, if or when I see bulb mites again. As for the results of planting, will have to wait till next August.
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