Tag Archives: garlic

Hello, Allotment and #Destinationstartrek #gdnbloggers

plotoctober.JPG

Hello, allotment, I have missed you.  I have missed the grapes getting ripe, and being plucked from the vine. I have missed cutting the last of the roses, all of the glads are now done. I have missed you and quite a bit.

Today, after what feels like an age, I have made it to the allotment to see what is happening and what I might do next. Ordinarily, as this time of year, I would be thinking about or will have planted garlic. I haven’t got that far yet.

Over the last few weeks, things have been a little unsettled. Time has been challenged, stretched, I have been battling against cramped head space with lots of things competing for my attention. I have had lots of reports from Mama F who has helped keep things in relative check on the plot. To be honest, not a lot has fruited this year, so she’s just been overseeing it all. I don’t think this years lack of productivity has made things easier.

Going today, was case of taking stock. Taking a moment, to breathe. And when your shoulder feels like it is going to fall off as does your arm as adrenaline and cortisol drag you through a stress response; that is quite difficult.

Why do I mention that?

Well, that’s my stress response. First thing first, I’m okay. If I wasn’t, I would say. It’s all a bit implicit, rather than explicit. There is some anxiety invoking issues that my brain and body don’t really like. Explicit, in that whilst I feel okay and am coming to terms with recent challenging events, there is something implicit that is not helping and would rather I had horrible pain from time to time. Not all the time, but occasionally and it’s rather irritating as you ordinarily take thing head on and do them to the best of your ability. But we have plan! The idea is to work through these concerns, get a balance; feel a little more congruent and use the allotment to do that. The allotment has always served an additional purpose beyond plot to plate food; it contributes greatly for me in terms of maintaining positive mental health. It is something that I have always promoted, that gardening, horticulture, pottering on the plot has a positive effect on mental health. I would be daft to not practice what I promote.

That is why I have a picture of a blank bed. I am aiming to sort the plot out over the autumn and winter months, change the second half of the plot; nothing was cultivated this year in that area and it has effectively become fallow.

We have had some produce to cheer me up. The above chillies and garlic have met their fate in the base for tonight’s dinner which is prawns in a masala. The  base is simple enough: garlic, onions, ginger with carom and cumin are sauteed. Tomatoes are added to this, as well as the contents of a masala box and both fresh and powdered coriander.

 

The video can also be viewed here

As well as liking the allotment, I am also a fan of star trek. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the original series and it’s impact upon modern contemporary culture has been huge! As teenager, I remember watching ST: TNG as a precursor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer; that was the height of my Thursday nights. Subsequently, voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise followed. I might even find myself watching the extension of the franchise with the new one pencilled in for next year.

There is the most tenuous of links between Star Trek and Horticulture. I remember watching Neelix growing tomatoes in a cargo bay, there was Keiko the botanist and at one point Janeway and Chakotay end up on a planet where they have to grown their own food. On a more contemporary level, we have had a certain British Astronaut growing seeds in space; so this whole thing is not entirely without foundation.

It’s funny, even though they were on the poster, I don’t remember seeing Picard, Janeway or Archer….

I did hear a certain George Takei; I heard  but did not see, as he was delivering one of the paid talks and I didn’t book any. He sounded lovely!

It was months ago, that I decided to put a star trek convention on my list of things to do. After all, I had already gone to an Angel/Buffy one, it made sense. Lo and behold, I saw this advertised! Naturally, I had to go along and see what it was all about.

The first part of my journey had mild fury as the trains from hobbitland to the centre of town were not running. In true persistent fashion, I hopped onto the rail replacement and made it to the NEC all ready to go. My first thought? “Wow, how many red shirts are there?” Some of which were in the queue for Costa, which rather amused me. If you are in Command, you may need a strong Americano.

As with the buffy/Angel con, there was loveliness in being with like minded people. For the record, I am a blue shirt. (Trainee counsellor, psych teacher, I think that qualifies….) The highlight for however, was this. Being sat in the Captain’s chair in a replica of the TNG enterprise.

Yes, it was as cool as it looked. (no, no one is trying to beam in to my right, it just looks like that…)

tngbridge

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.

garlicbulbs.JPG

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.

 

Glads to planting tomatos #gdnbloggers

plot.jpg

Doesn’t look too bad, does it?

This would be plot, as we approach the ides of May. Over the last few days, the calmer and warmer weather has allowed the plot to dry out a little. It looks less like what one of the ‘old boys’ of the allotment described as a paddy field. It is drier, yes, and I am able to see the wood for the trees. Especially, as the potatoes have stared to come, the odd previously sunk gladiolus are also coming up and the grapevines are starting to look alive.

I mention the glads, as more have been sunk today. I think I have read somewhere that glad’s have their naming roots in Gladiator swords. Actually makes me smile, but also think of Clash of the titans. In  the older Harryhausen movie, skeletal gladiators rose from the earth; so I often imagine this as I see thin green and scarlet tinged blades start to rise from the soil. More on the glads later though.

Fruit trees were looking frilly, the falstafff apple still is actually. I think the pear tree has somewhat suffered, and has been scorched by a frost. I was quite clad to see that the Morello cherry had blossomed out in bulk, as I wasn’t expecting it to be in bloom so soon after planting.

Today the task was to plant out this years cohort of tomatoes as well as sinking more gladiolus.

Having moved from home, this years tomato plants have been sat in the poly tunnel for a week or so. I did make an attempt to plant them out on Wednesday, only for the heavens to open whilst I planted just the one plant out. There were another fourteen plants to be planted out today, with seven additional plants being given to mum for her half plot. The first thing to keep in mind, is that whilst we are half way through May, a threat of frost still exists here in Birmingham. So if we do have a frost, these are probably for the high jump, and it truly be ‘good night, Vienna’ for them. There is an assortment of varieties, with yellow stuffer, aisla craig, marmande and cream sausage amongst the plants. Some of them have lost their labels, so I will have to take a rough guess if and when these do fruit. I did actually see a baby tomato on one of the plants on Mum’s half plot. All being well, they will be happy and won’t be frosted. Famous last words, I know.

The other job was to sink more gladiolus.

FullSizeRender
basket full of blooms

In the last couple of years, I must have sunk hundreds. There were a hundred that were sunk today. Thankfully,  of those sown over the years, are starting to sprout. These are however, largely in raised beds. Those there were in open ground are thin on the ground as Ma has dug over large patches where they might have been on the edges and scattered them around. That’s not a bad thing, they will appear if they want to. I have found that those in the heavy clay of the open ground may well have decayed and disintegrated over the winter; during the summer they did actually flower quite well.

  • Butterfly mix
  • Purple Flora
  • Black Surprise
  • Video
  • Green Star
  • Essential

The varieties that have been sunk, vary from being dwarf varieties to larger, giant varieties that are easily four to five high. I am intrigued as how the green variety are going to turn out, as well as the black surprise. I remember giving the latter ones away last year when I felt that I had too many to sink. The purple ones are a favourite, and always look rather pretty. There is a vast variety in the butterfly mix. A smaller dwarf variety, this selection usually contains many different colours.

 

In the next few months, garlic will be on the agenda. This is the garlic kindly supplied by Marshalls, and it’s not doing too badly. There is strong and healthy looking foliage, that indicates just how robust garlic can be and especially during rather erratic weather conditions. I am very glad to say that it hasn’t bolted; there are not signs yet of a flower forming on the top of the garlic scrapes. The foliage has certainly filled out and become more leafy. When it starts to go brown and hessian like and falls over, then it will time to harvest .garlic

@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.

IMG_6581

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)

.

IMG_6584

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.

IMG_6591

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.

Plot Plunder, winding down

“Oh, Punam, I went to the Plot, your grapes were flat again. Tomorrow we need to fix them.”

“Right, okay.”

“Oh, Punam, we didn’t see these. All of these marrows. We must have missed them.”

IMG_5914

And so started the conversation, and I suggested we take a walk and see what the deal was with the plot. This week has seen a return to work, and teaching has started. I was in something of a daze yesterday at six in the evening, having finished teaching; so a walk this afternoon was scheduled as being necessary after a day of training. I am hoping to do some volunteer work in the coming year, so a large proportion of my day had already been spoken for.

“Mum, there’s seven of them?”

That means chutney at some point this week.

We took a walk, and removed the last of the patty pan, sunburst courgettes. There are a few other yellow courgettes remaining; and soon they will slow down. Once all of the squashes have started to die a death; the aim is to take up the plants and compost them back into the ground. I know that I shouldn’t plant more plants than necessary, it is however difficult to not comply when your mum wants more than one plant. Yet we both get fed up of seeing frequently appearing squashes by this time of the year.

IMG_5915

The climbing and runner beans are also starting to slow down. The last of them-she says-are now waiting to be chopped up and frozen.I had forgotten just how much you end up with, if you sow quite a few plants. We have had a combination of blue lake and cobra climbing french beans, as well as borlotto beans, scarlet emperor and painted lady runner beans. These had been sown in two batches, as I had been convinced that the one tray simply wouldn’t be enough. I think mum is quietly fed up now of chopping and freezing them. She is still to get used to the colour of the borlotto beans, I think they add character to the wig wams.

IMG_5905

It has been a while since we have successful cropping of a butternut squash on the plot. The very first one was called Gladys, and this one would be gladys mark three. After all, even the ghost rider pumpkins are always called Bruno. I cannot remember now whether this is waltham or hunter. It is butternut squash nonetheless. There have been yellow butternut squash type thing harvested during the summer, more spherical in shape. Not too sure as to what will be done this with yet, but I am sure that it will be put to some good use.

IMG_5903

Newly arrived today is the box of over wintering garlic that will be waiting to be sunk. I think the latest that I have ever planted is the end of November, so I am aiming to do sow sooner than that. This will mean clearing raised beds of the assorted plants before plugging in. I don’t plan to sink into open ground as the heavy clay tends eat the cloves and I also find it harder to monitor weeds.