Tag Archives: elephant garlic

The longest day means harvesting the garlic

My gardening eye had been on the garlic in the past couple of weeks. The tops were beginning to dry indicating that the best growth has happened below ground.
Ironically garlic is meant to help keep aphids off over plants but I had discovered numerous colonies of black aphids on my garlic stems. They were not welcome.

Time to harvest was hastened by weather news that we are to experience the dregs of Cyclone Evan here over the next few days. That will mean damp, humid, sweaty weather which is not helpful to garlic…..or lots of other plants……and humans.

After the heavy mists and rain of yesterday morning had been burnt off by the sun I headed out and harvested 41 head of garlic and 5 elephant garlic.

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Can you see the small bulbils on the elephant garlic?
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These heads are Year 2 heads and can be eaten (yum!) and I will plant the bulbils back in the ground to produce next year’s elephants. Ideally elephant garlic grows best in a roughish patch of ground where it can cycle through the years and regenerate as well as offering pickings for consumption.

I lack such a piece of ground and use a black tub instead so bit more intervention and organization is required.

The garlic is drying off in the garage, which will now smell very pungent for a while. No vampires in our garage.

Spring showers and small elephants

There is nothing quite like rain to make plants grow. Watering with a hose or a can does not always result in anything like the growth that happens after a shower or two of rain falls.

Some weeks ago I planted some elephant garlic bulbils and some new elephant garlic bulbs. I’ve blogged about garlic and elephant garlic here and here. Then I have waited and watched and hoped……but until the middle of last week there was no sign of any “elephants.”

We have had some warmer temperatures but we have also had some biting cold weather and hail showers so plants have plenty of reasons to be confused and slow to pop their heads up.

However in the middle of last week after some gentle showers I spied the tiniest green shoot. Now I have three shoots showing strongly from the elephant garlic bulbs and the newest wee sprout has appeared from one of the bulbils.

Being a gardener requires so much patience and trust…..and the assistance of some rain falling.

Bandicooting the elephant garlic

Earlier this year I posted about planting garlic in my garden, Garlic and Gumboots. The ordinary garlic is sprouting away but the elephant garlic is not visible at all.

So I decided to use an old gardening trick, normally used for checking out the crop of potatoes or for harvesting some very early potatoes before the whole plant is ready for pulling. This trick has been named “bandicooting”. A fellow blogger in America has posted on potato bandicooting and he offers the following:

To bandicoot a potato is a simple matter. The soil surrounding the potato plant is moistened until it yields to probing trowel or hand. The small, immature spuds near the surface are carefully harvested leaving their deeply positioned brethren to grow.
For readers of a certain age (5-100) and nationality (Australian) the phrase ‘bandicoot potatoes’ is instantly familiar if not evocative. The bandicoot is a small marsupial resident of Australia. Similar in appearance to a rat and armed with the foraging bravado of a pig bandicoots are famed villains in the Australian garden. Bandicoots are said to sense the first moment when a sweet potato can be dug or a melon’s debut to sweetness. Their larcenous, sly habits are immortalized in Australian slang. To “bandicoot” is to steal but with a touch of flair and skill.
Writer: C.Lindquist. Vegetables of Interest blog 2008

Bandicoot

My Mum was a great potato grower and would often report she had been bandicooting and then enjoying some tasty new potatoes with fresh mint and a little butter, salt and black pepper.

My bandicooting today determined that the elephant garlic bulblets were simply sitting beneath the soil, showing no signs of growth or development. I have since emailed an expert for advice. I have learnt that elephant garlic is actually a member of the leek family and probably should be planted in early spring and not at the shortest day. I may yet have to dig up my bulblets and replant them in early spring and with the tip showing above the soil, not buried beneath. What an interesting plant and so much to learn about the cultivation of it.