Tag Archives: 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.

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Making the bed

With a storm full of rain predicted to hit our area tomorrow I decided to get out and make the bed in preparation for this year’s garlic crop.

Garlic crop 2011

I had forked the soil over a day or so ago while the sun shone on my back. Today I dug through a generous quantity of sheep pellets and added this sweet smelling, no cost maple leaf hummus and some stinky half rotted sea weed out of my seaweed tea bucket.

Once it has rained and soaked all these goodies deep into the soil I have some lime to add plus a sprinkling of bulb food. I will plant the garlic at the time of the shortest day.

Perhaps it will be consistently cold by then which assists in the growth of garlic cloves. Many of our spring bulbs are leaping out of the ground as the mix of warm days and some chillier ones continues.

While out in the garden before the storm force winds hit we gathered up a large plastic bag full of maple tree leaves to begin the slow break down process to provide us with even more leafy hummus next year. This year I added a good quantity of sheep pellets to ensure better decomposition.

Nature has provided well for the garlic bed this year.

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.

Friday wrap-up, a day late

Saturday 2nd July: Friday wrap-up, a day late.

So here are a few things that have happened today. It has been a good one.

 I realized that the very cold weather we have had this week is just the thing to stimulate my newly planted garlic bulbs.

 The coffee was good and hot at the café this morning

 A friend and I had a discussion about resilience which is a topic we are both interested in

 I walked around the lake near our shopping centre and enjoyed the winter light, the water, the birds and some stunning colours that surprised me in the depths of a steely, raw winter’s day

 Hot soup was just the right food for lunch

 I took some interesting photos on a walk near my home. I’ve included these two of a Melia tree near our local dairy. It looks so vastly different to the one in my garden.

 I completed my Garden Bird survey and was delighted by the number of chaffinchs in the count this year

 I did a guided meditation as the light of the day faded

 Everyone enjoyed their hot roast dinner

 There was some humorous television to watch in the evening.

And I found a new blog which I will be following closely with great interest. I’d encourage you to have a look:-)

Garlic and Gumboots

Saturday dawned sunny, mild and windfree so with the shortest day just behind us I decided to plant my garlic. I had prepared the tubs a few weeks earlier to allow the sheep pellets, lime, compost, bulb food and dry all purpose plant food to simmer away in the weather in order for the soil to be ready for the bulbs.

I have two tubs for garlic this year. One is planted with elephant garlic and the other with ordinary garlic. The beauty of elephant garlic is that small bulblets form off the head which can be planted next season to produce more large, tasty heads. My two elephant garlic heads this summer yielded 13 bulblets…..a kind of elephant family herd size I reckon. I have planted all 13 bulblets so I expect to have masses of elephant herds next summer

I prefer the cloves of elephant garlic. They are large and their papery skin is easily pealed. One clove is often enough for the dish I am cooking. The taste is somewhat milder and nuttier than ordinary garlic. The stalks and flowers are pretty impressive in height and size too.

“Garlic used as it should be used is the soul, the divine essence, of cookery. The cook who can employ it successfully will be found to possess the delicacy of perception, the accuracy of judgment, and the dexterity of hand which go to the formation of a great artist.” – Mrs. W. G. Waters
I’m not sure that my cooking with garlic reaches the heights of great artistry as Mrs Waters says it will but it is really satisfying to know that growing garlic to cook can contribute to the soul and divine essence of cookery. That has to be good for us.

While the weather was fine and dry on Saturday we have had plenty of rain and the grass is sodden. So later in the day it was gumboots time while we trimmed trees and did some general tidying up in the garden. Thank goodness for gumboots as they keep your feet warm and dry but there is also something very satisfying in sloshing about in gumboots. It is probably a memory from childhood when gumboots allowed you the freedom to jump in puddles, wade through shallow streams, mess about in mud and enjoy different sensory experiences on the ground.

We even have a quirky, comic song about Gumboots here in New Zealand, written by John Clarke. Here is the chorus and a verse:

“If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary
‘coz you would have a dose of the ‘flu, or even pleurisy
If ya didn’t have yer feet in yer gumboots.

Now there’s rugby boots and racing boots, and boots for drinkin’ rum.
But the only boots I’m never without, are the ones that start with “gum”.
I’ve got short ones and long ones, and some up to me belt.
I’m never dressed ’till I’ve got on me gumboots.

If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary
‘coz you would have a dose of the ‘flu, or even pleurisy
If ya didn’t have yer feet in yer gumboots.”