Tag Archives: garlic

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Preserving and progress

Rain has stopped play today, it’s grey and grim outside. The perfect opportunity to take stock of what is happening on the plot. Means I can update you on the blog, also work on another creative project. A project that builds on the blog actually, none too dissimilar and to be made public later on this year. Let’s just that whilst the blog is updated as and when I have something to share; the creative project is something of a summative assessment of all plot based learning experiences. That is a story for another day though.

So what has been happening this week?

The chillies are cropping weekly, and with the hungarian hot wax chillies loitering on the window sill I wanted to use the constructively. Mum’s been using them in her kitchen as per usual. They’ve gone into assorted Indian dishes, and even the odd fenugreek stuffed chappati. That is after all what they were grown for. The same goes for the harvested garlic crop.

The plums in the pan aren’t mine, not sure where they are from. I fancied making a jelly, and this is somewhat popular amongst friends and colleagues. I was rather traumatised emptying the jelly bag of the purple pulp; it didn’t look particularly nice. It looked as though it belonged on a medical ward. The juice for the jelly was a wonderful claret colour, and that meant wiping down all the surfaces onto which it dripped.

Chillies and garlic also went into a chutney, and I even did an experiment. I found a recipe for piccalilli and have tried this for the first time. I think its a bit mellow and probably needs more a kick; however it awaits taste testers.

Courgettes have started to crop; no thanks to the confused weather. There are other squashes and crops starting to come through too.

The ghost rider pumpkin is starting to sprawl out with its dinner plate sized leaves. Spotted a few babies, that may or may not have been pollinated. With the scarlet emperor beans in full flower, the climbing french beans have started to form gangly pods.

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.

Garlic and gooseberries

No, no together, I assure you. At least not yet, not until I make a gooseberry pickle type thing. Two harvests in fact. The first, was of the garlic bulb. Purely as it had fallen over. I hoiked out the purple and and green bulb,not expecting the bulb to have split into cloves. Lo and behold, it had! There were quite a few cloves actually, and all very potent. These are the over wintering ones from the garlic farm, and  I do have say that at the moment I am rather impressed. Have yet to harvest any more, I usually wait til the foliage has gone all pale and raffia like. This went into an aubergine, tomato and pepper chutney.

Another experiment, came courtesy of the maiden gooseberry crop. These are my first ever gooseberries. And they went into a jam. I did bite into gooseberry the other day. I didn’t like the gooseberry, the gooseberry didn’t like me. I did want to experiment though, so these were jammed with a scotch bonnet.

#NABLOPOMO: Garlic growing good

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#NABLOPOMO April 201 starts today and the theme is Grow. Seems fairly apt for a blog that centers on growing your own fruit and vegetables.

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Garlic, this is something of an update. I have a number of varieties that are currently growing. These are::

  • Early Purple wight
  • Lautrec Wight
  • Elephant garlic
  • Provence Wight

Other than the odd weed, the garlic seems to be doing okay. The green shoots appear to be strong and robust. With he wind of the last 24 hours, they are probably little wind scorched today.

This crop was sunk in the autumn last year. Here in England, sowing garlic happens-in my experience-from about October onwards, and then can also be done during the following spring months. In my experience, I have found that sowing garlic in October, and in raised beds, is a more effective, and produces a reliable crop. In comparison, sowing into open ground, and I have heavy clay, has not been as effective. They require little maintenance, and are pretty much left to their own devices.

In years passed, I have sunk a lot of garlic. Mostly to see which varieties produce the most bulbous, most garlick-y of bulbs. We use a lot garlic in Ma’s kitchen, most of her cooking has garlic in it, so it is always used. I think I even have a large jar of pickled garlic, somewhere in Ma’s pantry. There are of course, also a number of health benefits associated with it.

The seed garlic that I have sown, is from The Garlic Farm on the isle of wight. I know that some growers do tend to use the sprouting garlic that they may have lurking in the back of their cupboards. I’m not sure if this is a good way cultivation, since I have never done that. Some of the garlic that we buy in the supermarkets is better suite to different climates and is commercially produced.

Garlic update March 2015

It’s been a long time since I wrote about the garlic that was planted during the autumn last year. You can find that post here where I planted it.

The varieties are:

  • Early Purple wight
  • Lautrec Wight
  • Elephant garlic
  • Provence Wight

Generally, I will plug it in, and then pretty much leave it alone. Such is the beauty of planting garlic, other than feeding during the spring and weeding from time to time, I have observed that not much else is needed. In the past, I have grew it both in open ground and also in raised beds. In my experience, planting and growing in raised beds has produced a bigger and better crop compared to growing in the open ground.

So far so good, I will  have to feed these in the coming weeks. At this moment, the need to weed isn’t too bad. There is nice green foliage that has some way to go before it is shows that the bulbs are mature. The full maturity is indicated when the foliage becomes raffia like and pale, it also keels over in some cases.

#NaBLoPoMO: Planting Autumn Garlic 2014

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Once again, I am planting garlic. I have already planted one batch of Provence wight into a raised bed. So today, I have plugged in garlic into a second bed. A third has been prepared and tidied up as I might plant some more yet. Every year, I try to identify and plant an appropriate variety. it’s been fun trying to establish the best, the results have been quite interesting. The one key finding, is that raised beds are beneficial. In the past, the cloves planted into raised beds have been bigger and more flavoursome. By that, I mean pungent!

On the other hand, cloves plugged into open ground, have been much smaller. Ma has complained that these are then very difficult to peel and prepare. You would easily use a dozen of those smaller cloves in the place of three larger ones.

Beyond the Provence wight, I am also trying Elephant garlic this year. It is technically, a leek with garlic tendencies, The first that I have tried this, and the difference is already clear in the size of the cloves.

The garlic arrives in bulbs, as you can see. This year, I have found some from http://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk/ I was impressed by the size and quality of these. As well as the fact that this is a nice autumnal collection. Whilst there were three loose elephant garlic cloves, the rest of the bulbs are broken down into singular cloves. These cloves are then plugged into the dirt, with only their tip exposed.

Many people, will use supermarket garlic. There has to be caution with this, I think, In some cases, the garlic is for different climates and may not necessarily take off. I’ve never done it, but that’s not to say it can’t be done or isn’t successful.

In the past, when there has been an abundance of garlic, some the crop has been pickled. Rather nice actually, and has kept rather well. The majority has been used successfully in cooking. There is just something about fresh, home grown garlic. It certainly keeps longer, and definitely tastes different.

Garlic planting: Provence Wight

It is that time of year again, where I look at overwintering allieums. That’s garlic, onions and shallots. This year, there are no over wintering onions and shallots. These crops are simply not successful enough for me. With the heavy clay, tendency to flood, these tend to be written off. However, garlic is something of a staple. It grows well, and is always used. It is sad, when we run out of home made garlic.

This year, I have taken the decision to plant garlic into raised beds. Mainly as I have more success in raised beds, in comparison to the ones in open ground. This is across varieties, and I have sown many different varieties over the years. This year, I have gone with provence wight as it has performed the best when planted previously. At this stage, I have planted about four bulbs worth. This has filled one raised bed of 2m x 1. Far fewer than I haver planted, which is a little sad. I am looking into perhaps sinking more, being more scrooge like. Plus, mama H will bend my ear about how much room I am going to dedicate to garlic. Thing is, I can sow it around the edges of raised beds, and then plant things in the middle.The allotment wouldn’t be the same without garlic being planted.