Category Archives: overwintering alliums

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.

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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!

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.

 

Hello, Sunshine, where have you been?

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If you ask my Mum, the tomatoes have been looking routinely quite sad. They needed watering, and they were cheered up with doses of haitch two oh as and when required. What was more important, was sunshine. Sunshine, which has been somewhat absent and has finally turned up. And very welcome it is too, as it has kick started and renewed feelings of optimism as far as the allotment is concerned. According to the weather people, the sunshine is going to be around for a while; a week at least. With that in mind, the tomatoes have been sent outside to the path in Dad’s garden to start the process of hardening off. Unlike last year, where the tomatoes were all grown under cover; these are going to be outdoors and in raised beds or open ground. Currently they are all having a strop in pots, and I am hoping that if the plants sun bathe for the next few days that I can then take them to the allotment and bury them a bit deeper. The appearance of yellow flashes, tomato flowers, suggests that these all need to get a wiggle on and fairly soon.

This year’s cohort of chillies are the current room mates of the tomatoes, and will also need to be removed to the poly tunnel and be potted up. There are chillies here that are supposed to be small and stumpy, as it were, and those who are supposed to grow tall and abundant. I did sort them out into two groups to make the sorting out easier. The taller chillies will be potted up into large flower buckets, whereas the smaller ones are going to put into pots as they are not expected to take up a huge amount of room. In the last few weeks, the chillies have rather had something of a grow spurt and on time. In the next four weeks they will grow further before being moved to the poly tunnel. Having been sown a little late doesn’t appear to  have to knocked them too much.

With the chillies hitting a stride, there are also emerging seedlings. Recently sown cucumbers and squashes have started to come through. With the frost window remaining open until the next May bank holiday, both of these have got four weeks to grow and become more robust.  In my experience, squashes grow very quickly; you sometimes have to re-pot them to key up. I am hoping that with the four week window they are suitably sized for planting out once that they have been hardened off. With the cucumbers, I do intend for these to be planted and grown outside. I have previously grown crystal lemon outside and harvested a crop.

Seedlings are sat on the sidelines, mean making crumble. Last year I was able to harvest trugs full of apples and these were then frozen alongside some plums. Today has been spent making a plum and apple crumble. The second in four days!

With the crop of a previous year being used up, we can look to the future crop. A walk to the plot meant finding cherry and apple Blossom. The two cherry trees, Sylvia and Morello, are new additions to the plot; so it was rather heartening to see white buds n the Morello, but a lovely white bloom-just the one!-on the Sylvia tree. I wasn’t expecting to see any blossom on them this year, so I am really quite surprised to see blossom. I did check on the Concorde pear, that appears to have taken the frost on the chin, and is still looking frilly. The darling peach tree does still have a couple of deep pink blooms, there had been half a dozen; I did fleece at one point only for the wind to disagree with the shrouding.

The otherwise heavy clay of the allotment has had a chance to dry out. This has been to the relief to the heritage garlic that Marshalls were kind enough to provide for the plot. Garlic is wonderfully resilient, and is actually doing quite well given how much rain it has suffered. There are no signs yet of any bolting, and the ground is weed free so the bulbs should be making the most of the nutrients available from the clay.  The foliage is still very green and leafy, and with another eight weeks to go there is still a lot of growing to be done.

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I do like it when the post person delivers something that you’ve been hotly anticipating. Copies of ‘Sow Grow and Eat’ landed on our doormat and rather made my day. My thanks to the fabulous Howard-(the artist who once sunk spuds, remember him?) for having put the cover together. You will also spot that the Loldeantimber trug is now something of a cover star, it also appears in the book. Given how the trug is used so much on the plot, it was definitely going to end up in the book.

@MarshallsSeeds Heritage Garlic update

There is allegedly some rather nasty weather forecast for the Easter weekend. However, Good Friday has so far presented itself as being fair. There has been pottering around done today, but I have also  been double checking the heritage garlic provided by Marshalls.

You can also find the youtube version here.

The varieties are as follows:

  • Garlic Bohemian Rose
  • Mikulov
  • Red Duke

With the drier weather, the garlic appears to be doing well. It has most certainly taken root and the foliage is rather lush and green. It does have some level of resilience and should survive well. It will be really nice to see how this crop progresses and to have a good crop of garlic in the summer. I will most likely give it a feed in the coming months, and will have to ensure that the ground around the garlic remains weed free.

 

Sinking Garlic Round three @TheGarlicFarm

With the weather being relatively mild, I have taken the opportunity to sink a third batch of Garlic. What you see above is the rather abundant crop from last year, and the foliage that the autumn planted garlic had sent up before Christmas.

The varieties that have been dibbed in are as follows:

  • Lautrec Wight
  • Early Purple wight
  • Solent Wight
  • Tuscany Wight

I had taken the decision to sink some more as it felt like I didn’t have as many cloves sunk as in previous years. This batch like the first batch sown in Autumn has been placed into raised beds. There is an additional batch that is open ground further up the plot to offer something of a a contrast. All of the garlic sown will get used, it is not as though there will spare unwanted garlic in the kitchen. I am sure that of the varieties sunk, some are old favourites and others are very new to the plot. Some of the varieties are quite mild, creamy cloves that you might need a few of on a dish. Others are thick cloves, very pungent and not necessarily needed in a great quantity. I do like the purple and pinked skinned ones though, these seem to have some character.

In my observations, garlic does take time to get going. This was often a cause for concern for me in the past, as I would worry that the cloves had  been sunk and didn’t appear to be doing anything at surface. What I hadn’t considered that below the surface the cloves were sending out roots and establishing a system to anchor themselves in and gain nutrients. Over the autumn months, slowly but surely the green foliage started to rise and poke through the soil. These are my observations with autumn planted garlic, I have only previously sown spring garlic once before. Even then, the open ground in which it was sunk was entirely boggy and not particularly conducive at that time to the garlic. I have waited to try again, and kept in line with previous experiences by planting into raised beds.

For me, having raised beds has been very useful. Cloves are still planted deep enough, with a hole made by a dibber and the tip only just being visible. Drainage is improved and there is reduction in the likelihood of water pooling around the clove, collecting and causing the seed to rot. That said, cloves of garlic do appear to be fairly resilient, and the garlic sunk into open ground is only a matter of weeks behind that sat in the raised beds. The foliage is present and correct, just a little shorter. If it is difficult to have raised beds, I see no reason why garlic can’t be sown in containers. In fact, the first time that I grew onions and shallots; they were sown into and grown in containers.

December on the Plot

Have finally taken a wander down to the plot, having spent a little time away from the plot with real life.  There wasn’t a particular task in mind, but I did take my secateurs with me as I remembered that the roses probably needed pruning.  I also wanted to have a look at any possible damage that the recent storms may have done to the plot. I was worrying about the grapevines as they were already in something of a bad shape. Turns out there wasn’t too much damage, the plot is soggy more than anything.

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The Garlic Farm Garlic is coming on in leaps and bounds. Unlike previous years where I have had numerous varieties of garlic; this year has a much smaller range. The garlic farm garlic is in raised beds and is starting to come through. I have in the past, worried about the garlic not doing very much. I have learned that it is important to just be patient and let the garlic do what it has to. The seed garlic has been pretty much left to it’s own devices, and beyond planting, I have worried very little about it.

I had taken my gloves and sacaeuters for the roses and autumnal raspberries. I didn’t get as far as the raspberries, I will have to look at those after Christmas. What I did do, was wander around the roses and prune what I could. However, some of the roses are still blooming. As you can see, William Shakespeare 200o has a handful of blooms that will hopefully unfurl in the coming days. I am somewhat surprised really to see the roses blooming still.

There are three roses bushes on the plot, that are something out of Grimm’s fairy tales. Sprawling, prickly bushes, that I planted when they were nothing by twigs some years ago. They weren’t expensive, each one was exactly £1 from a poundshop, funnily enough. These are rose bushes that have grown like triffids compared to the rather delicate tea roses. They are also rather vicious, if you look at the stem of one of the roses.

I didn’t always have three. To start of with, I had two. I must have pruned one, and left a stem. It founded itself wedged into the clay, and rooted. So today, I had a thought. A scientific question, really. If I pruned off the two bushes, and kept some of the cuttings, might I end up with bonus bushes. This may or may not work. I had pruned the stems at an angle, and a lot of the material is actually budding. So I have wedged a few cuttings into the clay. Clay that was otherwise bare and where a rose bush might not be a bad idea. I have no idea what these roses are, other than being being, and from Holland. I do remember the labels being in dutch. (I might have to learn a little, just to understand the plant talk)

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The grapevines have been looking rather sorry for a long time. I have been battling to support them all the way through the summer, and anticipated that they might have keeled over entirely with the stormy weather that we recently experienced. However, they don’t look too bad. The windy weather has stripped them of their foliage, but this was probably causing them to bank over anyway. The next task for these will most likely to be create a more robust frame for them to clamber over next year. Though I am not too sure whether I am supposed to prune them again. I did prune them last year, and kept two main branches for each vine. That did appear to help the growth of leaves and the amount of fruit that cropped.

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Heritage seed garlic from Marshalls is starting to push through the clay. You’ll have to look very closely, but the shoots are just about visible. In comparison to the seed garlic in the raised bed, this is in open ground. I was worried that it might have been eaten up by the soil as we have had quite bit of rain. However it does appear to have been a little more resilient than I had thought. Rather looking forward to seeing how this goes.

#NABLOPOMO: Garlic Planting part two @TheGarlicFarm

The second batch of garlic is from The Garlic Farm. This summers crop was by far one of best I have had had, so for me having them again was really a good way of trying to replicate that success for next year.  Hopefully it will be just as successful. I was really surprised, and impressed, by the size of the bulbs that cropped. Also there is a real and definite difference in the flavour and strength of home grown garlic compared to that bought in the supermarkets.

I have chosen the garlic lovers collection from them this year. This batch of garlic contains:

  • Red Dontesk
  • Tuscany wight
  • picardy wight (I had to resist saying ‘make it so’ as i planted this one)
  • Vallelado wight
  • early purple wight (we’ve had this one before)
  • Provence wight
  • Solent wight

This batch has been sunk into two raised beds. I had thought that I had too much garlic. As though such a thing might be possible! The worry had been that there wasn’t space. Turns our there was enough space and more. I have saved the elephant garlic to share with my aunty, for some reason it bolted on my plot this year.

At least now all of the autumn garlic has been planted. May be, just maybe, I might try a spring batch.

#NABLOPOMO: Garlic Planting part one @MarshallsSeeds

Thanks to Marshall Seeds who kindly send me some heritage garlic varieties; and start with with arguably the first planting for next years growing season.

In general, Heritage fruit and vegetable varieties are still very new to me. Something that I tried to do this year and am looking to carry on into the future. Garlic is no different. It is staple part of many Indian dishes, and Ma will always use the crops that we produce on the plot in her kitchen.

Over the years, I have sown and grown many different varieties. The varieties in this batch are:

  • Red Duke
  • Garlic Mikulov
  • Garlic Bohemian rose.

I have broken up the cloves from the bulbs. Each individual clove is then dibbed into the freshly dug over earth that we prepared last week. I say we, but in reality it was my mum digging it over and removing the weeds and grass that offended her by just growing. She doesn’t the weeds and is always trying to make the plot what she terms to be ‘tidy’, I do not know how the grass even dares, in knowing that it will be unscrupulously pulled out.

I am conscious that there is a risk of bird pulling the cloves out, so they are covered with only the tiniest bit of clove sticking out. Hopefully, they should be okay.

Garlic 2015: The result @TheGarlicFarm

The garlic is up. All of it. Both raised beds have now been emptied of the overwintering alliums, and I have not been disappointed. I have been trying to grow garlic now for five years. Over that time, there have varying levels of success. And then there was this years crop. This has to be by far the best garlic harvest that I have had for a long time. The biggest of the bulbs are huge compared to those harvested in the past. And they are rather garlick-y to smell too!

All drying out to be used in the coming weeks.

The Garlic Farm. Try it.

Harvest and homebrew kick off 2015

The garlic foliage has dramatically keeled over, indicating that it is rather good to go. The seed garlic was sunk last autumn, having been purchased from the garlic farm. Over the years, I have brought and planted lots of different varieties of seed garlic. This was the first ever batch from the garlic farm, and I do have to say, I have not been disappointed.

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As of yet I have only harvested the one bed; I have two beds of over wintering garlic. The foliage had fallen over completely, was all very straw like and yellow. The bulbs didn’t take much lift, and moved out of the soil quite easily. The vast majority of the bulbs are very, very big. By far the largest that I have ever managed to sow and harvest. Big clumps, that are almost trying to split away from the main one. And they honk. Honk of garlic. There are assorted varieties here, and the purple ones are my own personal favourite. Not least because of their size, but because of their smell as that indicates the flavour they will yield. These are solid and stable cloves. What will happen now, is that they will be left to dry for at least a few weeks. The skins and peel should dry out and become crispy. These are better than good garlic bulbs, and I don’t do plugs of people just for the sake of it. This is produce that has come from an excellent seed producer and exceeded my expectations. I would certainly order again from The Garlic Farm.

Then comes the home brew.

Also harvested from the plot today was the last of gooseberries and and also raspberries. I am lucky to half allotment neighbours who ask me to liberate their excess fruit. I don’t ever filch fruit, by virtue of ethics, I always ask permission for the fruit is liberated.

With the gooseberries, this was always going to be their final fate for this year. I have so far made an experimental jam with them, and also an experimental Indian pickle. Their final fate, was to be used to infuse gin. There was a lot of experimentation last year with all sorts of fruit. An interesting learning experience, that produced interesting Christmas presents for family and friends. I also received, via a twitter conversation, really good advice from the lovely Thane Prince. Add coriander seeds to the gin. This advice worked last year, so I am taking it up again, having raided mum’s garam masala stash. Whilst I also plan to make some form of raspberry ice cream; the gin is one possible experiment with those that I have been looking at for a while.

The process is simple. Put fruit into jar, add sugar and steep. Then place into an airing cupboard and wait for a bit. The raspberry gin is apparently quicker than the gooseberry gin; a matter of only a couple of weeks. Gooseberries will be left for a while longer.