The forecast is set for rain all weekend with thunder and lightning, then some more rain for pretty much the whole of next week. With this in mind I made the decision to pull the garlic yesterday while the soil is still dry.
I grow my garlic from saved seed garlic that I have kept going for many years, it’s a big strapping hardneck variety called Red Duke and it’s one of the best I’ve ever grown. I’m very pleased with the harvest, nice looking bulbs with no sign of rot. Leek rust on garlic leaves has been present on other plots for a few weeks now, it only really took hold of my garlic this week and there’s still plenty of green on the leaves. There’s a touch of allium leaf minor action on some of the garlic stems, I picked off the little cocoons and set the bulbs aside to be used first in the kitchen. As usual, I will keep the biggest and healthiest bulbs back for replanting in November.
The raised beds on Plot 11w are taking some time to completely fill up, I’m getting there slowly, just concentrating on one bed at a time. Homemade compost has been set aside to mulch the larger beds on Plot 5 as I clear them, so I’m having to buy in compost to top the raised beds up. Next year I should have access to free homemade compost/mulch from the pallet bins.
Yesterday I planted 60 garlic cloves from bulbs harvested in summer, into one of the raised beds. I like to set the cloves out before planting, once satisfied with spacing (approximately 6 inches apart) I plant each one into the soil around 1 – 2 inches deep, pointy end facing up. The green shoots should appear in January, something to look forward to in what can be a long and dreary month.
My favourite garlic to grow is Red Duke, a hard neck variety with a hot spicy flavour. This variety has not let me down so far, even when covered in leek rust. Being a hard neck variety, Red Duke produces a curly flower stalk carried high above the leaves in summer which is known as a scape, snap them off to help the development of the bulbs but don’t just throw them on the compost heap! They’re edible and have a lovely pungent garlic flavour.
I always feel like I’m on top of autumn jobs when the garlic goes in, does anyone else feel like that? There’s still a bit of clearing and mulching to do on Plot 5 but an enjoyable amount of work for a sunny dry day.
Before I left for home I pulled up a sprout tree (it was already on the floor thanks to the August storms) and a big celeriac to go with our Sunday dinner. Believe it or not the sprouts are meant to be a short variety growing to only 2ft, I think I’m feeding them too well!
It’s so satisfying preparing the veg for our Sunday dinner knowing it came from the allotment and garden, carrots, parsnip, stored potatoes, sprouts and celeriac. All utterly delicious.
Seed potatoes are readily available from garden centres and seed merchants from early January offering many different varieties to chose from. Produced to be disease-free they offer the best possible start with growing your own potatoes. Chitting seed potatoes simply means encouraging them to sprout before planting, you can start chitting seed potatoes approximately six weeks before you intend to plant them.
To chit seed potatoes simply stand them in egg boxes or trays with the eyes facing upwards towards the light, keep them in a cool, light and frost-free place. They will soon produce short dark green shoots (chits) which will help give an earlier crop when planted, if the shoots are long and pale they need more light.
Potatoes can stay in their trays until planting conditions are right, usually from March onwards ready for lifting around June time. Main crop can go in a few weeks after earlies and second earlies, they’ll be ready for lifting anytime from late August through to the end of the year, depending on variety.
My seed potatoes are set out to chit in egg trays now, once again I’m growing second early ‘Charlotte’, a salad type easy to grow and delicious!