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Archive for the ‘Watering’ Category

Solent Wight Garlic Bulbs

I love roasted fresh garlic and this seems like reason enough to plant a row or two whilst the ground is not frozen at my allotment. My mate Colin says, “Plant on the shortest day (well only 4 days to go!) and harvest on the longest”. I’m yearning for summer already! You can plant cloves anytime between November and March and I’ve plumped for Solent Wight from the Garlic Farm as it has a great taste, grows happily in our climate and stores well. Prepare your soil well, adding plenty of compost and give your bulbs the sunniest space possible for best results. Be careful as you divide the cloves as any damage may lead to rotting and plant an inch and a half (3-4cms) deep, root down and pointy end up, about 6 inches apart. I’ll feed with Potassium sulphate in February, water well come March, then pray for a bit of sunshine to help it flourish. Here’s hoping……

P.s. Garlic can be grown in pots as well as in the  ground, although bulbs probably won’t grow to such a large size. You’ll  need a pot at least six inches wide and deep, but the bigger the pot, the more bulbs you can grow (and the less watering you’ll have to do!).  Planting bulbs three to four inches (7-10cm) apart, you can fit 3 bulbs into a 6inch (15cm) pot, 6 into an 8inch (20cm) pot and 9 into a 10inch (25cm) pot.

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Wow, I love digging up potatoes. Especially when they look like this! I grew a selection of colourful tubers sent to me by  Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, as well as my all time favourite, Pink Fir Apple, at my allotment this year.

I grew these on top of grass à la no dig, as per my last post, initially covering them with about five inches of compost.  However, I hardly earthed them up (mainly due to my lack of energy to haul bags of compost to the site) and just left them to do their own thing all summer. Buoyed by my Charlotte potato success, I thought  I’d see how they were coming along after all the rain (and finally a bit of sun). Although the yields are not quite as large, due to my lack of earthing up , I’m still really chuffed with a decent crop of my beautiful multi coloured tubers (and my knobbly Pink Fir Apples). The larger purple potatoes on the left and in the top image are Arran Victory, named in 1918 in celebration of the ending of the first world war. They have a high dry matter and are good for everything except boiled potatoes. The dark pink are Red Duke of Yorks (1942) and the lighter pink are Red King Edwards (1916) -both good all rounders with their skin happily retaining their colour when cooked.

Last night I made lilac mashed potatoes out of the Salad Blue Earlies (cross-section above), which according to the Carroll’s website is a novelty potato dating back to the early 1900′s and not a salad potato at all! Very tasty, but slightly disconcerting alongside my pinkish salmon!

I’m never really convinced about the value of growing main crop potatoes when my growing space is somewhat limited, but these heritage potatoes make my heart sing, so I will definitely be continuing my ‘no dig’ experiments in a more ordered fashion with some of these good-looking lovelies next year.

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Just read a fab post by Michelle at Veg plotting about leaves that can take all this damp weather we’ve been having and one of her images was of this beauty Cos ‘Freckles’. I  noticed this variety in Sarah Raven’s catalogue last year as it needed ‘plenty of water, but not too much sun’. I couldn’t have predicted the weather (or hose pipe ban!), but I hoped it might do well on a bit of ground that only gets 3 or 4 hours of sun in the morning. I merrily sowed seeds in modules at the end of February, planted them out about 6 weeks later in our community front garden and have been happily picking and eating them for the last month or so, and sharing the bounty with a few other neighbours too. Following Charles Dowding’s advice, we pick the outer healthy leaves, leaving the small inner leaves to carry on growing, enabling us to harvest over a longer period.

Although not completely devoid of slug damage, they’ve held up really well compared to other crops grown in the same garden, but I’ve also planted them bang slap in the centre of the plot, leaving other veg nearer walls to fight off (not always very successfully) armies of slugs and snails.

I love the look of this Cos lettuce, where some plants ‘freckle up’ more than others, and it has a great texture, slightly crunchy at the base, but with plenty of softness in the rest of the leaf too. Just about to sow another batch as it can be planted up to the beginning of September for autumn (and possibly winter?) leaves. Most definitely on next year’s list already.

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