The seasons roll on and each one brings its own moods. I personally love Autumn for its cooler evenings, epic sunsets, the promise of rain and the planting of Garlic! I can’t think of a more versatile vegetable and I can honestly say that I put Garlic in almost everything I cook. One of my favourite snacks is to toast some bread and then rub a whole clove into the piece of toast before drizzling over some Olive Oil. Instant Garlic Bread!
I’m forever amazed at the huge amount of varieties available to gardeners. From the wild growing Three Cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) with its very mild flavour and tiny bulbs, to the hotter Asiatic varieties and the giant European ones. Sometimes I wish I could grow them all. This year we’re planting Japanese Red, Purple Monaro and the mystery variety I’ve been carrying around with me for the last five years now which I’ve still yet to positively identify. This is the reason that its important to label everything! It’s a lovely and mild, nutty Garlic that thrives on neglect . (We have it planted around the perimeter of Wagtail and it grows without any soil amending or irrigation!)
Last year we experimented with the planting times at Wagtail, using two test cases side by side in the same bed. We planted one lot of the Garlic in April and harvested them as the leaves started to brown off in October and the other we planted using the old lore of “Plant on the Winter Solstice and harvest on the Summer Solstice.” We found the earlier plantings grew larger and had much better shape, kept better and there was no discernible taste difference. The solstice guide is easy to remember and probably works a treat elsewhere but it doesn’t ring true for our little urban farm. This year we’re planting earlier to see how our Garlic reacts. This is a key point in any gardening. Every Garden is different. Different soils, different micro-climate, differing amounts of Sunlight hours, the list goes on. Experimentation is key in growing your own veggies, everyone has their own experiences and are usually happy to give you some instruction but the most valuable advice you can garner is from your own Garden. Hopefully our latest experiment pays off!
Garlic’s medicinal qualities are well known, almost instinctual I think. As soon as I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or flu, the first thing I reach for is a clove of Garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, it has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, it helps regulate blood sugar levels, it helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, it can help ease the pain of toothache and it makes food taste amazing! Well, not the imported Garlic that’s been irradiated and denatured that most people buy from the so-called “super” markets. That tasteless stuff’s the reason why there’s so many small scale organic Garlic growers popping up all over the place. Nothing like a poor product to make people proactive! Hmm, I might just plant out two beds this year…
I had to add this! The batteries on the irrigation controller went flat (dry patches and struggling seedlings in the garden were a dead giveaway) and we didn’t have any spare double “A” batteries to replace them. Chuck in some triple “A’s” and use a couple of 5c coins to finish the circuit and voila! MacGyver eat your heart out!