Monday, 9 November 2009

Onions & Garlic

Onions & garlic - the stalwarts of 'over-wintering' planting. Overwintered veg go in now - about 4 months early, to give them a head start in the new year. Given that it's not going to get your onions ripe 4 months earlier than a spring planting (possibly only a few weeks) it's maybe not the most space efficient return on your investment of space - but then, hey the planters aren't exactly overflowing at this time of year!Plus garlic is one of the plants that actively benefits from the cold - giving you bigger bulbs - so it's certainly not a waste to get that in now.

Garlic likes:
1. lots of organic matter - rotted straw, leaf mould, sand   
2. not being waterlogged (so good drainage essential)  and
3. a sunny position.

I bought 2 bulbs as 'seed' garlic  - Thermidrome; early and high yielding and Iberian Wight; large fat cloves(!)

This year thought I'd also try my luck with half a bulb of field garlic I'd got left in the kitchen that came from the local market, as you can see below its already started sprouting so may get knocked back by winter frost, we shall see - a garlic competition with 2 pedigrees versus the underdog!

I split the bulbs up, made little holes with my fern trowel about 10cm apart and twice the height of the clove then just dropped the cloves in, covered with compost and labelled them up.

Onion likes:
1. a firm soil (stand on it if you're growing in a planter)
2. a sunny position

I bought 2 varieties of onion set  - Yellow Senshu and Radar, both good over wintering performers. You can grow onions from seed or sets (baby onions harvested earlier in the year and 'frozen' in time) - sets are much more reliable than seed and frankly there are only so many challenges a working girl needs so sets it was! Be sure to pick out the biggest and strongest of the onions and then, heartlessly, discard the rest.

Again I planted them about 10cm apart but this time only just under the surface of the soil - in fact some of the papery trails were still visible, looking like wispery little plant markers . Hope they don't signpost a potential meal for the garden wildlife.....

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