Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’

Our October / Autumn Planting List

Seems like an obvious thing to have in one place, but I’ve been struggling to find a good planting list for October (or the rest of Autumn for that matter) So here’s what we’re planting:

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I thought we’d missed the boat on this one, as you usually have to sow seed a lot earlier in the year, but I spotted some seedlings at the Altrincham Wyevale Garden Centre and thought we’d give it a go.  They were sold as twelve seedlings for £2.99, were already a reasonable size and seem to be thriving. We’ve planted them 12″ apart, as per the instructions in “How to Grow More Veg” in our double-dug allotment-style bed. Apparently they should be ready to harvest in 34-36 weeks. We planted them on the 6th of October, so I’ll see how accurate that is when we get to harvest time.

Garlic – Early Purple Wight

This is one of the earliest varieties – as discussed in my aged post on 18 different varieties of Garlic. We got ours from the local Homebase – £1.99 for a large bulb. They can be planted September to November and should be ready for harvest from May-August, a couple of weeks after the leaves yellow and die back. We bought two bulbs, and they have split into 20 good-sized cloves.

Red Onions – Electric

Another one of our purchases from the Altrincham Wyevale, 100 bulbs (“sets”) for £3.49. We’ve planted all of these in the allotment bed, the packet says you can plant them from August onwards, and that they are an “Over-wintering” set. It’ll be interesting to see what yield we get – 100 red onions could last us all year! It doesn’t say when to expect the harvest – just to wait until the tops start to die back. We’re planting sets rather than seed as they are apparently a lot more reliable. Not a very resilient solution though, so maybe we’ll try and harvest some seed for next year’s crop.

White Onions – Senshyu

Also from the Altrincham Wyevale, 100 sets for £3.49 again. These haven’t gone in the ground yet as we’ve run out of space in our single bed. Time for some more digging I think!

Autumn Planting Pea – Twinkle

This was a bit of an impulse buy at Wyevale. And the thing I hadn’t spotted on the label was the crucial “protect from frost”, so they haven’t been planted in the ground, but in pots that can be taken into the polytunnel when it gets frosty (assuming we ever get the polythene on the tunnel!). I don’t rate their chances of lasting the winter, so we may have to build them a cloche or a coldframe.

Broad Beans – Sutton & Aquadulce Claudia

All of the gardening magazines are listing these as things to plant now, so I got some as we were passing the seed aisle in B&Q. They haven’t gone in the ground yet – no space! But that’s ok, as the packets say to plant them Nov-Dec, with harvesting from April (Sutton) and May (Aquadulce Claudia). The Sutton beans suggest they need a cloche too – looks like I might be busy trying to work out how to make cloches!

Thats all that’s going in for us this autumn – I’ll let you know how we get on.

Starting our “allotment”

Purple Sprouting BroccoliOK, don’t get too excited, we haven’t got to the top of the 15-year queue for allotments. What we are doing is starting to turn large amounts of turf into productive garden beds. In addition to the Aquaponics system we have in our polytunnel, we are going to have eight conventional allotment-style beds. Each will be 5’x20′ and we’re going to try the planting styles detailed in the excellent “How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Can Imagine“. This means we’re planting a lot closer together than the instructions on the packets, and we’re not planting in widely spaced rows.

According to the book, this should give us maximum yields with minimum weeding and we should be able to reach every plant in the 5-foot wide beds without walking on the beds at all. The downside? It’s all about the soil! So that means digging . . . lots of digging. And compost . . . lots of compost.

Luckily we seem to have really good, deep topsoil. From digging the holes for the sumps in our aquaponics system I know it goes down about three feet. Unluckily it has had turf on it for a long time and so it is incredibly solid – too compacted to consider planting into, and it’s causing real drainage problems. So, we dig, and dig, and dig. The book calls for double-digging which is hard work but at the end of it the difference is amazing. These big thick slices that we’re levering up break apart into a beautiful fine soil and with plenty of compost mixed through it is finally possible to think of this piece of ex-lawn as a possible vegetable garden.

The hardest bit is getting rid of the turf. Lifting and shifting it took far more time than doing the eventual digging so we’re going to have to work out a better way to do that. The result is a little underwhelming, but we’re happy with it:

Allotment bed

That’s half of one of the eight beds – it’s 10’x5′, fully double-dug with a couple of big bags of compost dug through for good measure. We’re now planting it up with over-wintering onions (red and white), garlic, and purple-sprouting broccoli. This is our first real go at growing our own food, so wish us luck! Hopefully the slugs haven’t eaten it all yet!

Shiitake Hazelnut Vegetarian Pate

With two of my recent themes being Hazelnuts from edible hedges and growing our own mushrooms, imagine how delighted I was to find this recipe over at Fungi Perfecti:

Shiitake Hazelnut Vegetarian Pate

4 oz Shiitake Mushrooms
1/8 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 tsp dry sherry
3 oz Neufchatel cheese
1 tsp fresh parsley

Trim and discard woody ends from mushrooms. In a food processor, finely chop mushroom caps and stems. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute for at least 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, pepper and salt. Chop parsley in food processor. Add hazelnuts and process. Add Neufchatel cheese and process until smooth. Add sherry and mushroom mixture, and process until well-mixed. Spread or mold in serving dish. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers. Yields 1 cup. Other mushrooms can be substituted for or combined with Shiitake.

Isn’t that just the perfect use for all my nice garden produce? (not sure how to grow a Sherry tree yet though 🙂 ) It’s a recipe from Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets – which is definitely on my to-buy list.

18 different types of Garlic

I love garlic, but I’ve never really thought much about it. Garlic just comes from shops doesn’t it 🙂  ?

As plans for our new garden progress it’s something I’ve been thinking about growing – we just use so much it’s a pain to keep buying it (and it’s not so cheap now either). Imagine then how my interest was piqued by an aside on Gardeners Question Time, where one of the panelists admitted to growing eighteen different varieties of garlic. Eighteen! I had no idea there were so many, so I decided to find out more – what were the differences? Flavour? Climate? Size? And how do you grow them?

Here’s what I found:

 Garlic Facts

  • There are at least 400 varieties of Garlic (possibly more than 600)
  • Split into two main varieties – hardneck and softneck – softneck store better (longer).
  • Should be able to grow them across the UK.
  • Don’t store it in oil – a recipe for botulism!

Garlic Calendar

  • Plant: October to February – needs a couple of weeks below 4deg.
  • Fertilise: In Spring, fertilise with nitrogen and sulphur.
  • Harvest: May to July.
  • Store: Until the following February.

Tips for Growing Garlic

  • Plant individual cloves base-down in a free-draining soil, with about 25-50mm of soil above the clove.
  • Grow in full sun.
  • Can be planted close together, recommendations range from “almost touching when fully grown” to “8-10cm spacing in 30cm rows”
  • Water well during the growing season (March onwards), but in the early morning, to reduce the risk of rot and mould. 
  • They need a five or six year rotation plan to reduce the risk of White Rot. That includes not planting them where other members of the family have been – onions, leeks etc.
  • They need to be kept clear of weeds, as they do not compete well – hand weeding is unfortunately the best way.
  • Protect from harsh frosts with mulch.

Pests and Diseases

  • Rot & Mould – water early, and stop watering once Bulbing is finished.
  • Leaf Rust (rust coloured patches on leaves) – avoid moist shade; burn affected plants.
  • Nematodes/eelworms/thrips and Onion Maggot – use clean cloves for planting, rotate crops.

Companion plants

  • Don’t plant with: Peas & Beans, Asparagus.
  • Use them to mask the smell of your carrots, and protect them from Carrot Root Fly.
  • They deter slugs, so plant them near your lettuce, rocket etc.
  • For crop rotation reasons, plant with other Alliums – onions, leeks, shallots, chives.

Harvesting Garlic

  • Harvest when all but about half-a-dozen leaves have died back.
  • Try and harvest during dry weather to aid in drying.
  • To harvest: lift gently – avoiding bruising – with a small fork, shake off soil, and leave to dry.
  • To dry: leave on the soil for a couple of hours, then eat (delicious “fresh” garlic) or prepare to store.

Storing Garlic

  • Garlic can be stored several ways – the primary ones are curing (the type you buy), and freezing.
  • To cure your garlic: Dry it for 2-3 weeks, ideally on racks in a dry shed, then either plait and hang up or trim the leaves off and store in mesh bags. Make sure you store them in a  warm, dry area with plenty of air movement (cold causes it to start to sprout). depending on the variety, garlic stored this way can last up to eight months.
  • To freeze garlic: you can freeze it unpeeled or chopped, or puree the cloves with oil (2 parts oil to 1 part garlic) and freeze immediately.

U.K. Garlic Varieties

The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight have a good range of varieties, including many that are proprietary and unique:

  • “Early Wight, a purple hardneck garlic produces the first fresh garlic bulbs in the country” – harvested in May.
  • Purple Wight, a hardneck variety with large bulbs – around 8 large fat cloves – harvested in June, and will keep until December, has a “strong, hearty” flavour.
  • Their July harvest brings Solent Wight, “a white softneck, long-keeping garlic with wonderful bouquet” that will keep until the following February, or even later. (£9 / 5 bulbs, also available in 1kg packs)
  • Purple Moldovan – an heirloom variety with beautiful flowering stems and large bulbs (£9 / 3 bulbs)
  • Lautrec (Violet) Wight – From Lautrec in South West France, deep purple cloves with a “creamy, smooth flavour”, also producing beautiful flowering stems – the ultimate “ail de cuisine” (£9 / 5 bulbs).

Thanks for invaluable help from these sites: Garlic World, The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight, The Gardeners Calendar, GrowVeg, Gardening Zone