Guest post by Kevin Jameson
Hi. I’m Kevin Jameson, an allotment gardener for nearly 30 years together with my lovely wife Angela. I’ve been interested in gardening all my life thanks to my Mum. She’s 90 and is still as keen as ever. Once you have the bug it seldom leaves you.
We try to garden in a sustainable way using organic methods. Mostly with very good results and a steady supply of produce but as any seasoned gardener will say, you never stop learning. That’s part of the joy of it. I’m very pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the blog and share some of our gardening experiences with you.
Gorgeous Garlic. So Easy To Grow
Not everyone is keen on garlic but we love it in our cooking and grow enough usually to last us for at least six months each year. Garlic is also very easy to grow and get reasonably good results almost every time.
After planting in autumn and waiting until early summer the following year, you should be rewarded with nice bulbs filled with a cluster of highly aromatic, juicy, sticky cloves. The bulbs will also store well for months if cleaned and dried.
Choosing Your Garlic
We save a few of our best bulbs to plant again so we’re now self-sufficient. Other options are to use bulbs sold by seed stockists (quite expensive), grocery outlets or maybe a gardening friend who has some to spare.
The individual cloves in the bulbs should be plump and healthy, not shrivelled or blemished. At this time of year, which is the best time to plant, bulbs are usually still fresh and healthy.
Planting Garlic. Step-By-Step
Planting garlic is very straightforward but remember, the growing bulbs are buried underground, so you won’t see the results until harvest time. Just like potatoes. Why not involve the junior gardeners in your household as well? Maybe have a bulb planting festival in the garden. Like hiding treasure for the future.
Step 1. Choose a flat piece of weed-free ground in a reasonably sunny spot in the garden. Mark out rows about 20cm apart with canes or sticks.
Step 2. Using a trowel, make holes about 6cm deep and 10cm apart along the row. Remove any big stones.
Step 3. Pop one nice big single garlic clove into each hole. Blunt end of the clove at the bottom. There should be 7-10 big cloves in a bulb. Cover over the garlic cloves in the holes with the soil that was removed.
Step 4. For a better crop, finish by sprinkling a general purpose fertiliser over the area. Then cover with a good thick mulch of compost. About 3-4cm. Caledonian Horticulture Kelpie Compost would be ideal.
Done! So What Next?
Well you have to wait a bit but not for too long. Most autumn planted bulbs like daffodils will show their new shoots in early spring. If you plant garlic now or before the end of November at latest, expect to see the first shoots poking through as early as January/February. About the same time as snowdrops start to appear. Some new beginnings during the coldest, bleakest months!
Harvest time is usually late June/July. You might need to refresh the mulch and water during dry spells though. Carefully lift the bulbs under the slightly withered stems and inspect your reward. Voila!
Garlic plants before and after harvesting this year
In an earlier blog post I described a couple of methods for growing carrots in containers to avoid damage by carrot fly, a common pest.
We’re happy to report a very decent crop once again. Well worth the extra effort.
Container carrots before and after harvesting