Archive for November, 2008

Garlic harvest

November 27, 2008

I’ve picked all this year’s garlic after a couple of hot days ‘cured’ the plants. I would have preferred them to go a bit longer but keeping the water up to them was becoming too hard as the days warmed. I’m quite happy with the harvest—some of the bulbs are at least as big as I’d buy in the greengrocer.

I hang the plants under the house until the roots have dried then cut them off, brush any loose dirt from the bulbs and hang them again until the leaves are dry. Here’s what they looked like. There are 4 bunches like this, over 60 bulbs in all:


When the leaves are thoroughly dry I’ll cut them off and hang the bulbs in a mesh bag in the laundry cupboard. (One day I’ll get around to learning how to plait them). I’ll save the biggest bulbs for next year’s planting, which I always do at the autumn equinox.

The garlic always wants to sprout in the autumn and usually isn’t usable after it does, so this year I’m going to try sun-drying some cloves to try and extend the shelf life a bit into the winter. It would be nice to have garlic all year round.

Oh dear….oh damn!

November 21, 2008

It seems that She Who Prides Herself On Never Making a Mistake has gone and made one (sob!).

What I’ve done is to mix up two varieties of tomato. The San Marzano that was planted into the water wicking box on the deck has morphed into a Grosse Lisse. I became suspicious when the first fruits appeared round and not egg-shaped.

Actually, I became suspicious a while before that, because the plants that were supposed to be Grosse Lisse, planted down in the main veggie garden, were so lush, so compact, so unlike-any-Grosse Lisse-I’ve-ever-grown. Now they’re producing oval fruits and that sort of clinches it. So the mates of the Grosse Lisse in the wicking box (planted down the back) and originally thought to be San Marzano, aren’t. And what I thought were San Marzano’s are Grosse Lisse.

Still confused? I’m not surprised.

If you haven’t clicked away by now, here’s what happened.

I had seedlings of San Marzano and Grosse Lisse. Because SM’s are determinate tomatoes (short-growing, don’t need a stake) I thought I’d try a couple in a wicking box up on the house deck.  The remainder of that batch were planted down the back in the main garden, labelled San Marzano. I never intended to put Grosse Lisse in a wicking box, because they’re indeterminates (tall-growing, need staking) and I didn’t think the wicking box would have enough room for the root system. I intended to plant all those down the back.

So anyway, I’ve now got two Grosse Lisse in the wicking box and true to form they’re sprawling all over the place and I’m trying desperately to find places to put stakes.

Obviously, care is needed during the process of removing labels and planting.

All the tomatoes are looking great and producing fruits and that’s the main thing.

Oh, and I’ve planted three Roma tomatoes in another wicking box. They’re similar to San Marzano so I hope I’ll get a good idea of how the smaller, more compact varieties will go in the wicking boxes.

Of baths and compost bins

November 12, 2008

Old second-hand baths are really useful. I’ve got two now. Both are used to store extra water and both are also used to grow duckweed and azolla, which are scooped out and added to the compost bins or the worm farms, or simply used as mulch around seedlings.

Duckweed and azolla are floating water plants and in the warmer weather can be incredibly prolific, doubling their mass in a matter of days. The quickest way to grow green stuff and all it needs is a body of water and a weak supply of nutrients. Beware of adding too much—azolla can be killed very quickly by excess nutrients. I usually just add a bit of worm ‘wee’ from the worm farm. Incidentally, azolla has a neat trick—it can take up nitrogen from the air, so is a rich source of this element.


I usually make compost by putting soft green material through the mulcher and putting it into one of the worm farms or the compost tumbler.

Anything that’s too hard to mulch, weeds, or miscellaneous stuff like vacuum cleaner dust, goes into a wooden bin that holds about a cubic metre. Here the stuff is left to moulder away slowly, aided by worms and slaters and the occasional family of mice.

When the bin filled recently, I topped it off with a layer of soil and some pea straw, watered it and left it. When I discovered I had too many seedlings to find room for in the main garden, it looked so inviting that I shoved the excess in there. They’re doing well, not surprising, since somewhere in there there’s a bag of chook poo that someone gave me, that had set like cement and I couldn’t do anything with it.


There’s lettuce and wild rocket, 3 different varieties of pumpkin and 3 of cucumber. I expect them to trail happily over the edge. A few potato plants have since appeared and some yarrow and nettles are growing through the sides of the box.