Rust…and how to deal with it

It is with great regret that we inform you that our fantastic over wintered garlic plants have Rust….A LOT of it.

We’ve grown garlic once before at home. This was a great success so we assumed it would be an easy crop to grow.  Unfortunately, until we started talking to people at the plot, we didn’t know it’s history.  You assume that things will grow well as it is a well-worked site.  What you don’t take into account are the failures and crop losses other plotters have had and, more importantly, how they will affect you and your growing season.

What is Rust

Rust is a disease that more often affects leeks, but it is associated with all Alliums.  This means your garlic, onions, leeks and chives are all at risk.  It’s is a fungus that generally shows itself in Mid-Summer/Early Autumn (unless you are at our plot)…

How to know if you have a Rust problem

Rust first shows itself as orange/red dots on the foliage of the plant  These dots are otherwise known as “pustules” which, when disturbed, can spread to other Allium varieties.  As the condition worsens, the leaves will turn yellow and growth will slow down.


Rust on our Garlic – May 2016

How to deal with a Rust problem


There is no real way to deal with this issue.  No chemicals have been proven to tackle it.  As we are gardening organically, other gardeners have told us to remove the affected leaves carefully and leave the garlic in the ground to use as and when.  Others have said, to prevent further spread, remove the crop completely (again, with careful consideration for other crops which may catch it).

How to prevent Rust

As Rust is a disease which can be carried through airborne spores and ground contact, it is very difficult to prevent the issue.  RHS advises not planting Alliums too close together to prevent spread.  Also, crop rotation is key to prevent planting Alliums in the same location that the Rust hit in previous years.  Unfortunately, Rust thrives in certain conditions which are out of our control.  Warm, wet weather, much like the winter we have had recently, allow the disease to grow and spread quickly.

Our Plot

How are we going to tackle this, I hear you ask… we are going to try and remove the affected leaves as carefully as possible.  We will remove them from site and hope the remaining plant will come back fighting.  Not only do we have to be aware of our other Alliums, we must take care in not spreading the Rust site wide.  It’s hard to imagine our first ever crop being a failure but this may come to be a reality.  I think the important thing is not to spread this failure to other plot holders around the site.

Before we started at the allotment, we had never heard of it.  When you start planting, part of you assumes that these things simply won’t affect you or your plot.  But, in researching the issue, we have realised that anything can happen.

Be ever vigilant, fellow allotmenteers, these things are out to get us and our food, and you won’t even see it coming!

If you have any advice on Rust, your experiences and how you dealt with it, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  We are always keen to learn more! 


The Horticultural Channel – Online Facebook Group

RHS – Leek Rust Profile



2 thoughts on “Rust…and how to deal with it

  1. It may well prevent the spread but I’m not sure if it would help with the ground from previous years. I think a combination of the weather and not knowing what was planted there the year before has played a big part as its our first year there.


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