Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Talking about garlic and spuds (and a summer harvest)

It's full swing in the potager as my various summer crops begin to come due for harvest. I love to put my basket over my arm and head out with a pair of secateurs to fill it. It's best done as a lazy potter in the late afternoon, when the brick paths are sun-warmed and a glass of wine awaits me on the deck.

The basket above was a bit more work as I had to dig up my spuds! That's always fun though, like searching for buried treasure, and the thought of melt-in-your-mouth new potatoes kept me going. I grew my usual Laratte heritage potatoes, which were a bit small when I dug them up - probably they could have gone on growing for a few more weeks but I needed the space in the bed. There were also a few purple-skinned potatoes which are probably Heather, and must have grown from an overlooked small spud from last season. This year I shifted my potatoes to a new bed to see if they fared any better as last year they were quite small... but as I didn't grow Heather again (at least not on purpose) I can't quite tell. I did plan to grow my spuds in grow bags or straw this year but I didn't quite get around to it - so maybe next year!

Also in my harvest basket are runner beans, sugar snap peas, strawberries and raspberries, a zucchini, and a cheddar cauliflower. (The caulis did well this year - they were planted in early spring. There are a few small caterpillars on them at harvest time but they are still small enough to wash off easily and not have caused much damage.)

 The main point of this post was going to be to talk about my garlic and shallots. (Garlic pictured top, shallots bottom.) I harvested them around New Year's when the weather was warm and dry. The leaves were dying off and had been for a few months actually - they started looking a bit sad in spring and I must make a note here to water more in spring! When there aren't any other seedlings in the potager I don't tend to put the sprinkler on it, but I must make sure I do it next year.

The size of my garlic bulbs is average-to-small this year and here are the possible reasons why...

- not enough water in spring
- some bulbs being crowded by pansies (though not all of these ones were small)
- there was an infestation of those little black bugs that like onions. These horrible bugs also took out a lot of my chives! Very annoying as pests aren't supposed to like to munch on alliums!

 When I had dug up my bulbs I spread them out in the sun on this old wooden trellis. At night Jon and I moved it into the garage. When they have dried like this for a few days they can be tied together and hung in bunches. I cut the leaves off and store them in baskets hanging from my garage rafters.

 I'm much more pleased with the size of the shallots. To replant shallots, you just break up the clumps and keep the biggest bulbs for replanting. You put the bulb back in the ground in winter and it sprouts and divides itself into a clump of bulbs. Easy as anything and you get a very high return for putting just one bulb into the ground! I usually plant 4 (the bulbs shown come from 4 plants) but next year I'm going for gold and planting 5.

All right, enough talking about all this food, I need to go and either cook, freeze or otherwise store it. Are you harvesting any crops from your garden right now?


  1. I had a disappointing garlic harvest this year and I put it down to lack of water and growing them in a shallow trough, rather than a garden bed.
    Loving the look of that cauli!

  2. Hi Ruth..
    A very nice harvest, I like your basket. Congratulations! Your cauliflower pleased me. I failed on growing my purple sproute broccoli. They grew up vigorously but don't give flower at all.
    Overall, I love to see your harvest. :)

    1. Don't give up on your purple sprouting broccoli yet Hari! I have found that they can take up to 6 months to sprout sometimes. I'm not sure why but I have had the same thing happen and if you leave them long enough they should sprout. If you need that room in the bed for something else it's annoying though!



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