Tuesday Treasures – Day 28 NaBloPoMo 2017

I was absolutely thrilled today – because I had to go to work 🙂

It’s a wonderful thing to look forward so much to something that too many people consider a chore – but the crew I work with are fantastic, and this time of year is pretty awesome. We’ve got the Oak Food Garden up to a point where we’re starting to harvest a lot of food!

Today, we harvested the rest of the broad beans and they’re going to be (mostly) blanched and frozen for use by the Wednesday Cooking crew in the next few months. We also pulled our experimental garlic crop, one of the first things planted back in February and they’re now hanging inside to cure. This was grown from a head I provided – the same garlic that more or less failed for me this year. It’s given me some clues as to why mine didn’t do well this season, my soil is just that much heavier and holds a lot more moisture.

Beautiful huge heads of garlic – note the $1 coin for size reference!

Although they’re a bit late to be going in, we planted a lot of tomatoes today, that we hope we’ll make into Passata come autumn. The Wednesday Cooking group are making healthier lunch options and have been making pizza and salads. We harvested a lot of salad greens for them today, Cos lettuce, endive, tiny white celery flowers (absolutely delicious in salad!), silverbeet and red orach.

This is the first pick of the orach, which we planted fairly thickly from seedlings I raised only a couple of months ago. While we were picking, I discovered a volunteer tomato, looking very happy. I thought it might have come from someone’s lunch tomato that could’ve ended up in the bed (we’ve only reclaimed the area in recent months), but further along the row, I discovered more healthy tomatoes! Every one up against an orach plant!

Red Orach and sneaky Volunteer Tomato

Then the penny dropped.

Two years ago, my friend Sara gave me some Roma tomato seedlings she had no room for. I had a great crop and dried most of them, the seeds ending up in the worm farm. The following winter, I must have used that tray of compost in one of my wicking barrel dwarf apples – and got a bonus crop of tomatoes last summer!

I dried some of those too and would’ve put the seeds in the worm farm – I hate wasting anything. And of course, I used some worm compost in my potting mix when I grew on the orach seedlings a month or so ago. So, the interlopers will be cossetted and cared for, eventually overwhelming the orach, and I hope they crop as well as they have for me the last two years 🙂

 

 

A Quick Friday Update – Day 4 NaBloPoMo 2016

It’s been a mixed week. I’m trying to finish a uni paper and keep up with spring planting in the garden. Meanwhile, gastro has stormed through my household and has left all of us feeling a little less than wonderful!

There have been lots of good things though.

The last couple of mornings, I’ve been lifting more heads and weeding the beds as I go. While this year’s garlic crop will be less than last year on average, the heads are undoubtedly bigger.

img_20161104_095312

 

As soon as the garlic’s gone I’ll be planting advanced tomato seedlings. A few weeks ago, I found an out of date packet of Debarao (aka De Barao) tomato seed while I was planting out this year’s summer vegetables and decided to plant the packet as well as some fresh seed. Amazingly, the new packet did nothing but the out of date all came up. I’ll be pricking these out into cardboard grow tubes in the coming weeks and probably giving a lot away to friends!

img_20161103_103437

And finally, Bernard Black the Bunny is settling in really well. He is playful and cute and like most rabbits at that age, has a voracious appetite and the cutest, biggest, fluffy paws ❤

img_20161103_100001

 

Garlic Goodness – Day 2 NaBloPoMo 2016

Hi everyone,

It’s been raining again, something I’ve been saying a lot this year! For November in the southern hemisphere however, this can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing. Root crops can be susceptible to fungal diseases and I’ve seen potatoes rot in the ground from too much water. I noticed last weekend that a few of my garlic plants (the ones I could see through the weeds that keep coming back!) were sending up flower buds so this morning I took the time to check near the edge of the bed.

Usually, this involves removing the mulch and then gently (and patiently) scraping the soil away from the stem until I can see the shoulder or top of the bulb. But today the soil was so soft and damp it was very easy – a little bit too easy really! At this stage of the year, my garlic is usually just starting to swell and hasn’t as a rule formed a head yet.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled this monster out of the ground!

img_20161102_104628

There was a little bit of mould on the outer layer but with careful curing I think the crop should be fine. Last year I lifted my main crop in mid November but I think I’m going to be looking seriously at getting most of it out of the ground this coming weekend.

Knowing when to harvest garlic is another one of those arcane arts, and there’s a lot of disagreement about it. Some people wait until the leaves are turning brown, but I find the heads have often separated and don’t store as well if I leave them in the ground that long. Usually, I look for any where flower heads (also called scapes) are forming and if the lower leaves are starting to die back, all the better!

Curing is another often overlooked necessity if you want to store your heads into winter. A friend in the UK lays his garlic out in a greenhouse for a couple of days until the outer skin starts to harden and any soil in the roots dries and falls off. If I did that (even here in Hobart) I’d have mushy baked garlic by sundown! I like to hang mine by the tops behind the laundry door for about a week. It’s warm and dry there but with good air flow and very importantly shaded from the fierce afternoon sun. After they’ve got a tough outer skin, I clean up the roots with a paring knife and roughly plait them for storage – again behind the laundry door. Last year my household ran out of home-grown garlic in August (a record for us!) but I’m hoping for September this time 🙂

For the sake of being logical and making a comparison, I checked another garlic plant further in the bed – and pulled out another fully formed monster. Do note, my hands are quite small but these heads are really big!

img_20161102_104359

Ultimately, no one knows your garden better than you, all its microclimates and idiosynchrasies. What works for one gardener might not work for another. You have to make your own decision about when to harvest and be prepared to get it wrong sometimes, as I have some years. The key is to learn from it and not give up!

Let me know what your experiences are too – I’m always keen to hear from other gardeners 😀