Yesterday we got around to lifting the garlic from their growing bed – the very last area in the allotment that we can cultivate for summer crops. This shot shows the full harvest on-site, with flowering calendula growing on the garden path, and nasturtium visible on the other side of the path.
The garlic patch was planted on 9 November 2019, and we had stopped watering the patch by mid-May, which was largely hot and dry (with a short cold snap).
It is recommended to stop watering garlic two weeks before harvesting to allow the skin of the garlic bulb to start to ‘cure’ or dry out and become papery.
After removing from the earth you need to lay out the plants with bulbs on a wooden board in a dry space.
Our harvest comprises two types of garlic – the French Germidour (soft-necked), which are small and purple tinged, as well as two Giant Garlic. According to the variety information both these types of garlic are quite ‘mild’ but nevertheless the scent as we lifted them from the ground was heady and powerful.
Last year we left them out on a plank of wood in the open air at a time when it was fairly certain not to rain. This year we are able to lay them out onto the wooden work space in the growing shed, so safely away from curiosity of foxes, squirrels and other hungry locals.
Because we’d stopped watering, lifting the garlic was surprisingly difficult work, with the earth hard-baked clay that was hard as concrete.
Despite having a sore shoulder, the big guy got to work right away, and turned over the new bed and broke down all the hard clumps.
In the end this was accomplished by putting all the really big clumps into a green waste bag and stomping on it – a Malink technique that results in fine crumbly ground.
The bed now holds the remaining lettuces, ready for harvesting themselves, and so we can start to plan on what to plant in there. We have new seed for dwarf beans and we could do more peas and try runner beans again… Or direct-seed some kohlrabi and turnip? Or maybe more salad? I also have some seed trays of sprouting broccoli, so they would be good contenders if the seeds are viable… And we also have the cuttings from the tomato plants which could usefully be planted-in somewhere…
Yesterday I started more direct-sown seeds. I gave up on two rows of seeds that have failed to come up in the raised strawberry bed.
There’s a single section in that larger strawberry bed where I’ve got a row of Swiss chard seeded.
I’d also earlier in late April/early May seeded rows of beet and orange calendula, but neither was showing signs of life…
So into those previous rows I turned over the ground, added a bit of soft bagged compost, watered and then re-seeded with Pak Choi and a single side row of Italian spinach.
The tops of the line of seeds sown was covered with soft bagged compost. This gives seedlings a better chance than growing through thick chunks of clay, and is a good way to improve the overall soil texture and composition of the bed over time.
The Pak Choi seeds are dated to 2022 but I’m not sure about the viability of the Italian Spinach. Only time will tell, but hopefully these come up. The Swiss Chard seedlings are doing well – I should probably thin these out soon.
In addition to the garlic harvest we also took home with us a lettuce and small green zucchini.
There was also more delicious early-summer fruit – a collection of red raspberry, yellow raspberry, and large juicy loganberries. Yum!
A little female Reed Bunting showed up immediately after Malink turned over the old garlic bed to prepare it for the next crops, and made her own harvest in worms.
Before departing entirely we dropped in on M’s plot and gave all the plants a splash of water. It was cool and dark with grey skies which threatened to rain, but I felt it in my bones as false. It would not rain. And so we watered. (And it did not rain, though there was a brief shower of a mere two or three minutes just after mid-day the next day).