Sunday, November 30, 2008

Down the garlic path

Garlic - the stinking rose - one of my desert island vegetables. I love it, and use it all the time in cooking. If a recipe calls for 1 clove, I add two, if it only says onion, well, it gets a chopped clove as well. Odd that I had never really eaten the stuff until I was about 17, when my mother began, somewhat daringly, to sprinkle a bit over the Sunday roast, prompting a more unenlightened boyfriend to ask if the meat was off. Anyway, I am so pleased to announce that these beautiful pink pearls have been planted in their freshly dug garlic bed. The variety is Music, a hardneck porcelain garlic, ordered from the Really Garlicky Company http://www.reallygarlicky.co.uk/
As they grow this commercialy in the North East of Scotland, I am hopeful that in my wee bit off the M8 corridor, we will see more than a few bulbs. All in all about 90 cloves were planted, and they are now snug in bed with a light covering of bubble wrap, just to give them a start. I'll take this off in a few days, when this frost has lifted a bit; it is -6 here tonight and I am a bit clucky with my cloves.
You can see the bed before I started on it almost three weeks ago now. I am only getting a couple of hours at the weekend to work on the plot, so I am pretty pleased that I have something to show off. This was a bit of a nightmare. Couch grass and buttercups had been allowed to make merry here for at least 3 years, and they were enjoying their party. And nettles! How hard are they to dig out? Is every nettle in the world attached to each other, by some sort of nettle internet?
Still, with my own gloved hands I dug this out, removing as much of the white straggly roots as I could. I don't imagine I've got it all out, but hopefully enough to be able to keep it under some control later on. Fiona, the white hen, shows off her good side in this photo, and is not quite so modest in the next one. The surviving Broon Twin also checks out the newly dug garlic patch. They like to get involved when they can - especially if there are worms going. Actually that was one aspect of digging this out that did bother me- the huge amount of worms that die. I know there are loads of them, but they do such great work that I hate to see a single one harmed. Well, the sharp eyed reader may note the amount of digging that still has to be done, so I'll have to get over it. Once these beds are in place, I don't intend digging much, or at all, come to that. Mulching will be my keyword.

Anyway, there is enough space here to fit in another raised bed next to this one, which will be planted up with onions. There is enough room for shallots in the garlic bed, as 90 cloves at 6 inches apart only takes up half the bed. I am hoping to plant the escalote grise from Thompson and Morgan. It is an autumn planted variety, but I reckon it should be ok to start it off in February. Any more good weekends over the next two months will be spent digging out the onion bed, but I also want to give the blackcurrants a prune, move some roses and perennials round to the front garden, and build a herb spiral (see the spiral seed link) Oh - and a few other diversions to be organised in the next month. Better get perusing those seed catalogues and get my letter off to Santa.

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