Garlic, Glorious, Garlic @TheGarlicFarm #gdnbloggers

First thing first, this is not a sponsored post. I love the product, I paid for it, and will always share the stuff that I think would be useful, folks are going to benefit from and draw some joy from.


I have now lifted all of the garlic on the plot. This batch was well and truly ready to be lifted as the foliage was going yellow, some of it had actually keeled over and part of it was starting to form flower buds. Definitely time, therefore to lift it and let it dry out.

It’s no secret that I have sown and grown seed garlic from The Garlic Farm before. It is by far, in my opinion, some of the best stuff that you can sow and grow as far as garlic goes. I find it wonderfully straight forward to sink and then to harvest. The bounty on harvest is always huge, a wonderful quality and always makes me want to grow it again the followig season.  This time of year, feels such a long time away from when it was first sown. Whilst other things such as tomatoes and squashes are only just kicking off, the garlic season is on the home straight.

Right now, Pops is a bit concerned that the house now smells of garlic. To be honest, I am little concerned too. I don’t recall it ever honking this much. Home grown garlic does smell, the scent is so much more intense than the shop bought stuff. Not in the offensive way, but the potency is indicative of just how fresh it is. At least there will be no vampires crossing into his conservatory.

I had sunk quite a bit of garlic; a fact that became rather apparent to me as pulled up the plants and proceeded to chop bits off. See, space is a premium for me. Many growers might plait and suspend it from the rafters. In the first instance, I am useless at the plaiting, and second I have no rafters. So I chop off the stalks-which I do believe you can use in cooking anyway-and lop off the very robust root systems and let the lot dry out in a warm and bright area. Hopefully the skins will dry out, become papery and allow the bulb itself to be handled more easily. The soil will also dry off and fall away, with the bulbs looking a little more supermarket brought.

As you can see, the bulbs come in an assortment of sizes. This is influenced by the variety and also the growing conditions. All the bulbs are solid bulbs, nothing has fragmented or rotted away; the drainage of raised beds does help. There is a lot of purple and solent wights in the harvest. This is meaty and robust garlic, with proper cloves that are intense and flavoursome when used in cooking. There are some diddly little cloves as well. These are usually the bane of Mum’s kitchen, and she complains that they are too small and take ages to peel and chop. I have yet to figure out how to prevent this from happening, alas all of the garlic gets used regardless.

With this years garlic harvest done and dusted, I will be looking into what will be sown in Autumn. A habitual thing,  only difference this year is that Mama F will want some and that will mean a bigger order!

Pudding, potting up and moolis #gdnbloggers

The initial plan for the day was to pot up rescued chilli plants. I had decided that i wanted some more in the poly tunnel; and in the coming days I try and find some more. I popped down first thing to have a general mooch, also to harvest gooseberries. More on the gooseberries later. Early on in the day, I was okay, I wasn’t sneezing so much; all was well. Fast forwards three hours to when I wanted to pot up the peppers; and I kid you not. Whooping sneezing; the horrible, squelchy, bogey-fied, ‘all right, there, Punam?” sort that has your plot neighbours wondering if you are okay and shouldn’t go home and lie down. With my “Yes, thank you, it’s just hay fever” response, I did try and carry on. I was going to pot up the chillies even if my brain made an exit. It took forever, to pot up those peppers and add slug tape. Once completed, I cried off; left Mama F and scarpered home whilst clutching rolled up balls of tissue. Mama F heard her first born whine and snort that she was going home.

Today was all about food. Making the most of what was harvested. Mum’s focus was all about the moolis-the things that I can’t grow-and mine was pudding based with gooseberries.

A lot gets written on this blog about growing, but not an awful lot gets written about eating; surely as a GYO thing, that is important! I was rather glad to see that the tomatoes aren’t doing too badly; the courgettes on the other hand, are a cause for concern with not a lot a fruit as they are slug/snail damaged.

So, first thing first. Mum harvested a few mooli. Declared that these would be dad’s lunch as she raised one aloft. There was also a handful of coriander that was harvested. I simply cannot get mooli’s to grow, I get seed pods. My mum on the other hand, was and is committed to the cause; she has sown loads on her plot and is now reaping rewards. Mooli-or japanese radish-is used not only as a salad crop, but Mum stuffs it into chappatis. With the coriander that she also harvested, today’s harvest was lunch. With atta (dough) already made, Mum grated the radish, added salt to the squeeze out the water; before seasoning with the contents of her spice tin. Adding to a rolled roti, this was then cooked on a tava. I had mine with a 5 minute raita as an accompaniment. You can also stuff chappatis with fenugreek, and this is next on Mum’s agenda. A note of caution, mooli’s are spicy, hot and blowaway the cobwebs. So if you don’t fancy the heat, stick with conventional radishes.

{You can find recipes for both of these in #plantpottales -the yellow one!}

As mentioned, before my focus was more sweet rather than savoury. This years gooseberry crop is exactly double compared to last year. Last, 250g came from the then new bushes. This year, with 500g, I’m making cake rather than jam, pickle or gin. I seem to have lost my jamming mojo, and will try to get it back at some point. The crop was added to a sponge mix containing desiccated coconut and golden caster sugar; one of the tins is still in the oven as I type. I fancied making a pudding, rather than jam as it seemed an interesting experiment to do.

So what happened with the cakes?


Now cooling. I assure you, they are golden and not burned!

Anyway, I am now dosed up with anti-hay fevers stuff. Exiting stage left; to feed to the veggies and harvest some roses.

Fruit ‘n’ flowers #gdnbloggers

I am temporarily hiding from the allotment. If I head down there now,  rather than be able to stay upright and water things; I will be standing in the poly tunnel sneezing and repeatedly. Admittedly, this is only the second time that I have reacted badly to the airborne pollen. I know that there are people out there who have suffered for longer and with arguably more severe symptoms. They have my empathy, as the anti-histamines turn me into something of a bumbling zombie. The choice is difficult to make, between sneezing so hard you wonder whether you brain is going to fall out through your nose, your ribcage feels a little like it will  crack and explode or feeling so zoned you have no idea what time it, what day is it, and how did you lose six hours whilst asleep?

The aim is to go play on the plot tomorrow during the middle of the say.

Yesterday though, I found fruit and flowers.

In the polytunnel, there are increasing number of purple haze chilli flowers, with one rather pointy purple chilli already formed. The other chillies are at varying stages, but there are buds forming that in some cases have formed lovely  white flowers. There is a distinct size difference. The larger chillies, such as jalepenos and hungarian hot wax form much larger flowers compared to smaller chillies such as prairie fire, sparkler and patio sizzler. I had to try very hard not to jump, as on close inspection, I found that a lovely lady spider-complete with a white spherical ball of a belly-had made her home in the leaves of a devil’s rib chilli. She is far braver than me, and I left her alone; she really wasn’t bothering me. I have started to water the chilli plants once a week. Given how it gets in the poly tunnel, that does mean that the soil does dry out in between feeding, so once fed the soil is moist for long enough. One thing I will say, is that the so far, the copper slug tape is helping. There is the odd nibble of leaves, but nothing has so far been reduced to a stalk.  There are blue pellets of doom, I’m afraid; these are sprinkled sparingly, but are in use.

Then there is actual fruit developing. Aside for the handful of tomatoes that now visible, and the red, ripening strawberries are being picked. I have noticed, that this time last year, I had made gooseberry and chilli jam. Which, seeing as I have gooseberry bushes now laden with fruit is no real surprise. They are all green, the ones that I can see. Though there are red, green, yellow, and one’s called invicta on the plot. This means that I will have to check the colour for ripeness, and probably try and squish them. One just to happen to fall off as I brushed passed, and was just asking to be bitten into. The result being, that I don’t particularly like tartness. I think I leave them for a while, whilst I determine what I might actually do with them. There was both pickle and jam made last year, and I need to decide which I fancy doing again.

Last year, we had a small harvest of currants. This year promises to be a little larger, as observed when riffling through leaves. The fruit hang like beads, and can be found  beneath a canopy of leaves. The bushes are still young, and still become established. The varieties that I have are red lake red currant, versailles white currant and wellington blackcurrant. The blackcurrants just happen to match my current nail varnish.I will be keeping an eye on them for ripening fruit, and again trying to decide what to do with them.

(And yes, that is slug, hovering in the fruit bushes)

Reduced: #Plantpottales #Sowgroweat


Just to let you know, that for the duration of the growing season-til October-ebook/kindle versons of both #Plantpottales and #SowGrowEat are reduced in price.

‘Playing with Plant Pots’ is now priced at £1.99. You can find the link on the side or click here.


‘Sow, Grow and Eat’ is now priced at £2.00. The link is also on the side or click here.


The paperback versions remain the same if ordered via amazon.


You can however obtain paper copies from me at a reduced priced(whilst stocks last) via PayPal.

Sow grow eat is priced at £8 plus £2 P+P

Plant pot tales is priced at £6 plus £2 P+P

Simply get in touch via Social media-twitter, instagram, FB or drop me a line via email: pfarmah AT hotmail DOT com. -Enter the email manually, as I don’t like spambots and you don’t want them either!


Lifting Garlic: @Marshalls Seed Heritage

Marshalls Heritage garlic


A while ago now, Marshalls got in touch to see if I would like to sow and grow their heritage garlic. I have grown quite a few varieties over the last few years, and I am also open to trying something different. In addition, in my mind at least, garlic is something a plot staple. All of the garlic is sown and grown passes through Mum’s kitchen and is used in both Indian and other cooking.

Having received the heritage collection in the post, it was then sunk into the soil at the allotment. The cloves did take some time to come through; this time is used to develop a root system; eventually lush green foliage was sent upwards and that is what you can see from the image above. It certainly looked very robust, and has to deal with a lot erratic weather.

There has been a lot of patient observation over the last few months as the up and down weather as it does cause the plants to bolt and send out flower buds from time to time. This was what I was keeping mind as I harvested the garlic today. The flower stalks were just starting to form. That doesn’t render the crop useless, but it is hint to start taking it all up and use.

Taking up the garlic was fairly straight forward. Wet soil meant that it all could be pulled up quite easily without having to resort to a folk to lever out the bulbs. You will see that I have snipped off the foliage. This is purely for practical reasons to allow storage. Space is at a premium, so the foliage is snipped off to leave a neck. The bulbs are now sat on trays and will dry over the coming weeks.

I can safely say, that there is now a very garlic-ky scent in the air! There are quite a few bulbs given the number of bulbs that I started off with. All of which will be used in the coming weeks and months. This will allow a better insight into the flavour of the bulbs. You’d think that all garlic was the same, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Different varieties come in different sizes, have a different provenance; all of which will impact upon the flavour. All being well, this will be considered carefully and soon.

Blooms and Buffy: Frocks, fruit and flowers

The last week has seen several episodes of rain and flooding; not very conducive to going to allotment. I finally made it to the plot today to see what the state of play was; there are weeds to  be got rid of but also lot to positive about.


The first handful of strawberries have been harvested. A couple of them a little under ripe, but they are bright red and edible. I may have even eaten one to taste check, and I not even a big fan of strawberries. These have arrived a little earlier than usual, with strawberries usually cropping around Wimbledon fortnight. I know that sounds very cliched, but I do have memories of hearing of Andy Murray winning wimbledon and only having one strawberry that year.

The rain has done little to thwart the roses; they are a bit damp and fluffy, but still blooming. There are easily a dozen roses in that bouquet and in an assortment of colours.

There was also some adventuring this week. Adventuring, that I have been looking forward for some time and is completely unrelated to the allotment. I actually went to a convention. Not a conference, a convention; a convention celebrating Joss Whedon’s Buffy:The Vampire Slayer and Angel:The TV series. Two shows, that I have very fond memories of having watched them as a teenager; and two shows that I can watch over and over alongside Star trek and Shakespeare. So I went.


And it was rather fun! An amazing opportunity to talk to other whedonites and to meet some of the stars as well. The highlight was meeting Anthony S Head who played Rupert Giles. There were eight guests in total, and it never ceases to amaze me just how iconic Buffy and Angel were. Hearing the guests talk about their jobs was simply mind blowing.

This was the first time that I had ever been to a convention, so I was a little bit worried as to what expect. It was however a really positive experience, and sat there at half ten talking about Buffy episodes at a disco was rather surreal. As you can see, part of it involved dressing up. That is my attempt at Bad willow, though I do look more an extra waiting to keel over in GoT. On the right, that’s a better attempt at dressing up to attend a whedon prom.

I can safely say, that whedonites are by far one of the most amazing groups of people in the world. I flew solo in this adventure, I didn’t take anyone with me. Yet there were couples there-a couple of which had very new babies in tow, I take my hat of to them!-where whedon was a shared passion. So in being by myself, i was adopted and made to feel very welcome at my first convention.There was a huge diversity in age ranges and nationalities, people had travelled in from very far afield. Apparently, there are not many Buffy/Angel conventions, so this was a rare one.

Not just roses: #ethicalroses #gdnbloggers

As well as there being fruit and vegetables on the allotment plot; we also have roses. Roses, gladiolus and sunflowers tend to make the floral triad  on the plot. However, this year, we only have two out of three. The glads are starting to make an appearance, with thin green blades protruding through the soil. For now, the roses are well and truly kicking off.

If anyone tells you that having an allotment plot or gardening in general, isn’t romantic; then they really haven’t ever smelt the roses. Especially roses that are home grown, grown and not flown; roses that  are grown in fairly English soil-I add that caveat as I know that the clay on the plot has been there since the second world war and probably a great deal before that too-and not clocked up air miles from lands afar. Regardless of the variety, these roses are English roses, and just happen to be tended to by a Bollywood Gardener. Both the roses and I, have roots and firmly here on this, this sceptre’d Isle. ( We have William Shakespeare 2000 and Falstaff the fruit tree on the plot, one day there might be Anne Boleyn and others).

I can also say, that should there ever be a partner and significant other turn up; I would rather they worried about diamonds-ethical ones, yes-rather than placating me with roses. I can grow my own, and I like them.

There was a worry that since we have had rain fall in sheets, that the plot was on a serious go slow. It is as far the tomatoes and squashes are, even the runner beans. The roses were still very bare; but then they started to bloom and burst. Plus there are aphids all over the shop, and I rather they weren’t.

In the space of ten days, I have gathered-it feels wrong to say harvested, do you harvest roses?-three bouquets. This for me, is the truest sign that summer has started, and that allotment change is coming. That there will be blossom, buds, and fruit. Two out of three bouquets have been sat in their place upon the sill in the kitchen, with the third being donated to a good home.

It is a shame, that the blog doesn’t have smello-vision, as I cannot write to describe the scent of these fresh blooms. Zingy lemons doesn’t cover it all. And they do smell, they do honk! Very often, you might buy a dozen roses from a posh florist, they don’t whiff. These do, and wonderfully so. I always laugh around St.Valentines day (No, the single cynicism has nothing to do with it) with the flush of roses, and how they look lovely, really pretty, pricey; but that’s it. Nothing else to them; and that for me, says a lot about romance and roses!

At some point, I did actually count how many roses bushes there are on the 200 metre square plot. I just can’t remember the exact figure, but it was around thirty. Ten, are hybrid tea roses; the posh sort; such as lover’s meeting, ruby wedding, the peace rose, Christian dior and silver jubilee to name some of them. There are a couple of poundland roses, pink sprawling bushes with thick stems, vicious thorns but lovely compact blooms that leave carpets of petals. These are a wonderful surprise. Started out as sticks that were no bigger than a foot; but then grew like triffids. Thorny, vicious triffids, that you want to be angry with but when you see them bloom, you stop seething.  Last but not least, the bulk of the plot roses are lost label roses. Roses, that in transport and transfer from their place of birth to their retailer have lost their labels and ended up in a bargain bucket. With these, it is basically pot luck as to what they are and what they do. Some of them, are tall and sprawling-the yellow ones, largely-the others are pink and stay quite close to the ground. When these are in full bloom, the top half of the allotment, is an avenue of roses and just smells amazing. On a nice day-yes, I know, British summer day-with the right wind passing through, the fragrance of roses is out of this world.

#bollywoodgardeners Roman Adventure


When you get asked to go on an adventure that has been speculation for nearly a decade; you don’t hang about. You make sure you have a good pair of shoes-I broke them in for a couple of weeks before hand-find a canvas bag-I had one already, funny that-and then you plot you itinerary. Well, you don’t, but you do have a sister who does.

You count down the weeks, the days, the hours; then, with your suitcase in tow, you set off on an adventure.

The hashtags #Bollywoodgardener #adventuring get used, and you take in, arguably what is the adventure of a life time.

Let’s see the pictures and then I will tell you all about it.

In four days, we must have walked miles. Thank goodness for the shoes. Their first test, with the roma card, was the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. This not the first Roman theatre I have seen; the one in Tunisia is pretty damned epic too. Seeing the Rome version peeping out between two modern buildings, was indeed something else. Then you actually get in, and you get a better understanding of how it might have worked. Having savoured that, there was a walk around the Roman Forum.

Day two, was Vatican City.  There is one key thing for me here. No matter what you believe in, or even if you don’t. This visit cemented for me, the power of human beings. What it is, that we are mortals can achieve when we put our heart, soul and mind to something. (Oh, and don’t mention to me the most expensive Ice-cream I have ever bought, and right out side the vatican. Nice, but not that nice). Seeing the sistine was something else; the room itself is rather dark with only slivers of natural light coming through. Yet when you step in, and are holding your sisters hand so you don’t lose her amongst all of the pilgrims and tourists; you are amazed by the sheer brightness of the colour. You just have to look, look up and then down. The images are just wonderfully vivid-restored, remember-but rich. It is then you realise just how much a single human being can achieve. There is of course much more to the Vatican, you walk through a number of galleries to get to the chapel, and these too are to be appreciated.

Lunch was delayed, as we made for St.Peters basilica and square. The television images do not do it justice. Yes, that is Petal in the square up above. Our departure was heralded by a selection of bavarian brass bands having something of a trumpet off in the square. Now that was interesting, but we were hungry and off to find chow and the cat place.

Food was found, and so was the cat place. A set of Roman ruins, that were home to a cat colony. We were about to leave disappointed having not seen any furballs, but the sound of mewing stopped us. We did the obligatory cooing over kitties basking in the sun; they were actually quite cute. A visit to a Da Vinci exhibition-found by fluke-further underlined the magic of the human brain. Da Vinci devised a tank!

Day three was spent trekking, and we found ourselves in the bone crypt of the capuchin friars. Left me slightly uncomfortable, the reminder of my mortality. But I get the concept. A walk through some part of villa borghese was as far as gardening went. A very English type park, with Lord Byron at the entrance. (We did try Villa Medici, but the tour was in French and we had missed the English one on the Sunday morning). In the morning, we had spent some time in a queue. In the queue for the opera. Have never been, even here in England. Only serves for the saying, when in Rome; so we did. But it wasn’t just an opera. It was La Traviata. Directed by Sofia Coppola, and with costumes by Valentino. So we stood in the queue, with posters around us telling us that a performance was sold out. Crossing our fingers, we ventured to the open window. Panic not! The posters were the previous evening. Phew! Ten minutes later, we had tickets, a pocketful of soul and excitement. We were going to the opera!

And what an experience. Thankfully, we had checked before the story; I do that anyway, but it did help, knowing what the gist was. As did the subtitles. Epic doesn’t cover it. Voices, costumes, being the youngest by about fifty years, all adds to the experience.

The closing days of our adventure held the trevi and  the spanish steps. The Spanish steps were a bit underwhelming; covered with scaffolding. I am unsure and wholly unconvinced of their would be splendour. The trevi was all very sparkly and clean looking. I made my three wishes to fall in love three times; as to whether they come true and when, you and I can both take some guesses.

All in all, I am very glad to have adventured to Rome; it is a huge privilege to do such things.

As for the next adventure.

It remains to be seen.


Weathering the strangeness

June has arrived, and it has been rather strange in it’s infancy. The weather hasn’t exactly been the best, confused and entirely erratic. We have had rather nice windows, punctuated by cold and chilly days reminiscent of early autumn.

With that, I have been looking at the tomatoes and squashes that were transplanted prior to the end of May bank holiday. (I was adventuring, and more on that later) Ordinarily, squashes grow like triffids; they are rapid, hungry and likely to take over the patch of ground into which they have been sunk. Looking at them though, they do rather look a little developmentally delayed. Perhaps it is early, perhaps I am overestimating them; but they should have started to get a wiggle on. I suspect that the inclement and inconsistent weather has some what confused them.

There are factions of the plot that are doing well, that are resisting the variance in the weather. Waking up from a slumber, the grapevines have started to send out leaves and bulk up on their frame. Small clusters of flowers and fruit have been spotted, and indicates that the vines are so far quite happy. Even the currant bushes are starting to flower and flourish, and look as though they have been strung with green pearls.

June, July and August generally involve garlic being harvested. In spite of the horrid weather, the Marshalls Heritage seed garlic appears to be romping away. It is a little wind burned, which given the windy nature of the site is not all that unusual. The foliage is still lush, green and is now nearly a metre high; it looks rather robust. It may be some time yet before the foliage starts to die back and become raffia like.


Summer is coming…One hopes


I cannot sow and grow mooli-japanese radish-to save my life. Each and every time that I do, the crop bolts; we end up with mooli pods. I have long since given up, but Mama F has taken this challenge head on. What you see above, is the result of her handiwork. They look like a mooli, but I think they are probably icicle radishes; there are probably mooli on the plot somewhere, and she will no doubt tell me. But as you can see, they are straight, day glow white, and they were, edible. They ended up in a salad, rather than meeting their fate in a paratha, which is normally the done thing. I have however, been charged with getting more seeds to so that they do end up in a paratha. The key is though, that we have had a mooli-of a sort- from the plot, and it is home grown.

The chillies are coming, the purple ones at least. Imperial purple flowers have formed on the purple haze plants and fruit is forming. The other plants are not to far behind with smaller and white flowers becoming visible. Hopefully we will have some chillies before long.

Roses! For me, these are a true indicator that there is change on the way. The roses in Dad’s back garden have already started to bloom and blossom, mine are usually not far behind. There are easily two doze or so bushes on the plot. These range from rather posh roses, through to the lost label roses that you see above, to a couple of poundland roses. These form a triad of flowers; with glads and sunflowers usually being on the plot. The glads are on their way, but there are no sunflowers this year.

I like my roses, with the wonderful smell of zingy lemons that hangs in the air as you poke your nose in to take a waft.I am rather looking forward to home made bouquets as we have seen in the past. To be honest, I don’t tend them as pedantically as I could, beyond the removal of dead heads and stems for the kitchen vase.


Raspberrries and strawberries are in full flower and ready to fruit. Some of the goosberries are already laden. There does appear to be more than last year, which is a good thing. Maybe more pickle, and the odd jam to make.