Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘organicgardening’

Garlic harvest

It’s the time of year to be harvesting  garlic. I planted mine last November in pots on the patio, they survived the winter very well and I’ll hopefully have a bumper harvest when I dig them up this weekend. Garlic is really easy to grow, even if you’ve only got a small outside space and if you’re addicted to garlic bread, like me, definitely worth it because home grown always tastes better. 

It’s best to buy garlic for growing from seed catalogues/your garden centre so you know which cultivar you’re growing. Garlic is a hardy plant, growing up to 30cm high. In China it’s grown for its young green leaves, used fresh or blanched, and for the flower stems. In the UK we tend to only use the cloves, which vary in colour from white to purple  and also in strength of flavour. If you can, use a strain adapted for your region.

Garlic prefers an open, sunny site on light, well drained soil. Freshly manured and heavy, poorly draining soil should be avoided, unless you put a layer of coarse sand or potting soil beneath the bulbs to improve drainage.

Garlic tolerates a variety of climates but bulbs may not form in temperatures over 25°C. Many strains require a cool period of 30 – 60 days hence autumn planting. Garlic has a long growing season, another reason for autumn planting. Cloves should be pushed into the soil flat end downwards, up to 10cm in light soils less deeply in heavy soils, but always with at least 2.5cm soil covering the clove. For highest yields space cloves 18cm apart. If you don’t have loads of space 7.5cm – 10cm apart is fine, rows 25-30cm apart. I planted 2 cloves per large pot and 4 in my big potato pot.

After planting garlic needs very little attention. Some strains, like mine produce a flower stem. Cutting this back 2-3 weeks before harvesting is said to increase bulb size by up to 20%. Garlic should be harvested when leaves start to turn brown in mid-late summer. In dry conditions it can be left outside to dry for 7-10 days, if it’s wet dry inside.

Recommended varieties for the UK are: ‘Cristo’, ‘Long keeper Improved’,’Ivory’,’Marshall’s Mediterranean’, ‘Thermidore’. All performing best from autumn planting. 

Good companion plants for garlic are beetroot, carrots, lettuce, raspberries, roses, strawberries and tomatoes. Avoid planting garlic next to beans and peas.       

My garlic has flower stems (see first pic) so I’ll be cutting those this weekend in preparation for harvest in 2 weeks, I might experiment with cooking them like they do in China. But however good my garlic harvest is I doubt I’m going to beat the size of my in laws gigantic crop! (see below with pic of my mother in law)


Veg patch planting schemes made easy

If my recent article about choosing your veg, planting schemes and crop rotation made you feel planning a veg patch was too much like hard work I’ve discovered an online tool takes all the hard work out of it. www.GrowVeg.com is the website and it’s really good.

The software doesn’t download to your computer you just need adobe flash player to use it. The first 30 days are free then it costs £15 per year or £25 for 2 years. Essentially you construct a scale plan of your garden and then fill it with the veg you are going to plant, the site automatically calculates how many of a certain type of veg will fit in the bed you have drawn. The site gives lots of information about growing vegetables and once you’ve specified your location it will calculate your regional frost dates. 

Not much different to drawing a plan with pen and paper you might think but there’s more. The sowing and harvest dates for each veg are calculated automatically and presented in a table. You can work out your successional planting scheme by clicking on each month in the year and it will automatically show you which beds are free that month. You can also add planting/growing notes for each veg and it will work out your crop rotation for the following year at the click of a button. There’s also a facility to work out a square foot planting scheme.  Once you’ve decided on your scheme for the year the site will send you emails to remind you when to plant the veg that you’ve chosen.

Overall I was very impressed at how easy it is to use and I think it’s a really helpful tool for those who are just starting out with growing veg.

Here’s a picture of the plan I did for my current planting scheme .

And here’s the sowing/harvesting table that GrowVeg automatically produced.

New article Growing vegetables:part 4

The fourth article in our growing vegetables series is now on line under the articles tab. The topic is germination. 

Last Sunday I posted about planting some late summer lettuce. Here’s some pics of the seeds and their sucessfull germination.