Garlic & The Year of the Pea

I planted all my garlic last week, about 60 cloves in all. I always do it at the autumn equinox. Unfortunately, last year’s harvest wasn’t good enough to replant and I’ve had to buy new bulbs. I’ve been getting miserably small bulbs over the last 2 years. I don’t think I’m feeding it enough.

When I first started growing garlic, I did what most references I read said to do—plant cloves on the shortest day and harvest on the longest. Those first bulbs I got were so disappointingly tiny that I was ready to give up. I must have missed harvesting one, because it re-sprouted the next autumn and eventually grew into a giant! So from then on, I’ve planted my cloves in autumn (at which time they sprout within a week) and harvested them when the leaves brown and wither. Longer growing season = bigger bulbs (in theory).

This year I’m ‘doing’ peas. They’re so easy to grow and so useful to have in the freezer, for adding to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, risotto and pasta dishes.

So far, I have 11 varieties to try—for flavour, yield and ease of growing.

Climbing varieties:
Purple Podded
Angela’s Blue (also has purple pods)
Alderman (also known as Telephone)
Field *

Dwarf varieties:
Massey Gem
Blue Bantam
American Wonder

* I call these Field peas for want of a better name. They’re an unknown variety that came up in bales of pea straw I bought for mulch years ago. I saved seeds and have been growing them each year ever since. They’re really a semi-dwarf variety and they bear reasonably well.

I’m growing the climbing varieties in my wire circles where it’s easy to put up a tepee for them to climb on. These are Purple Podded, just starting to head up the strings:

I started sowing on 31st January with Field peas in a wire circle and in a large pot on the deck:

The dwarf varieties are being tried in wicking boxes and wicking tubs and some will also go into wire circles. These are Blue Bantam, in a wicking tub, sown 16th February. They’re flowering already, after 34 days. Looks like I’ll get an early yield. The wire circle helps keep them confined and the crossing sticks give them something to grab on to:

These are also Blue Bantam, in a wicking box. They’re flowering already, too:

As soon as I pick a handful of peas, I take them inside, put a small saucepan of water on the gas, and while it’s coming to the boil, I shell the peas. Toss them into the boiling water, give them a minute to blanch, scoop them out into a bowl of iced water to cool and then it’s into the freezer. Couldn’t be easier!

4 Responses to “Garlic & The Year of the Pea”

  1. lindawoodrow Says:

    I plant my garlic around the autumn equinox too. I have <a href="; about 70 cloves in pots now, and another 70 or so to go in in about a fortnight. And my peas (an snow peas) planting season is about to start too. I grow Telephone and Massey Gem climbing peas, and Oregon Giant snow peas, and there is a mildew resistant, 1.5 metre climbing snow pea I grew for years that I’ve now lost, and I’m trying to find the variety again. I don’t bother with the dwarf peas and snow peas – climbers have so much higher yield for space. Love the change of crops the changing seasons bring!


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Linda,

      I don’t grow snow peas because for some reason they don’t agree with me. I just can’t eat them (without them coming back up a couple of hours later. Ugh!). Shelling peas are OK, though.


  2. veggiegobbler Says:

    I like the look of your wire cage for peas. I might do that myself. I’ve done snow peas before but this year I’m expanding to snap peas too. Can’t say I’m much of a pea fan but everything tastes better when you grow it yourself. Good luck with your garlic. I’m giving it a go again this year too despite failures in the last two years.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi VG,

      I was sort of forced into the wire circles thing because it was the only way to grow anything that the rabbits couldn’t get at. But they’ve worked really well for most things, especially bean and pea tepees.


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