Sunday, 28 October 2012

Snow melts and alliums in!

allotment
Splitting cloves
We had been starting to fret about our order of over-wintering onions and garlic arriving from Thompson and Morgan, thinking that with the nights darkening and the clocks about to go back, time was running out to  get the blighters in the ground. I think in television they call this kind of thing "jeopardy". Just when I was getting ready to ask to cancel the order, up they turned; cue much punching of the air and "yeeha"-ing. Well not quite, but I was chuffed...

I had vague plans to get onto planting them this weekend at some point, so was less than impressed when we got a covering of snow on Friday evening, which was still in evidence on Saturday morning. I took a wander down to the plot to show some visiting friends our smallholding, but the allotment must be quite sheltered, as there was plenty snow over everything  and the water in the butts was frozen over. Not a planting-things-out day.

Today has been a whole lot warmer, with only a bit of drizzle to interrupt an otherwise good late-autumn gardening day, so, friends having left, I headed on down on a planting mission.

allotment
The plot, today. Soon-to-be allium patch in the middle.
newcastle
Patch- prepare to be dug!
Last week, we had very roughly dug over a patch in the middle of the plot which had previously been home to broad beans, dug in some fish, blood and bone to try and get things off to a good start, and covered it, so it didn't need too much digging today. With the ground having been quite sodden in the first place, it took a little while to get it broken down to a relatively fine state.

allotment blog
Dug!
Around this time last year we planted Senshyu overwintering onions, and some anonymous garlic that we bought from a stall at the Quayside market in Newcastle. This time round we're being a bit more thorough and scientific about things, going for three different kinds of garlic (Messidrome, a softneck; Chesnok Red and Edenrose, both hardnecks), plus elephant garlic, Shakespeare onions, and finally, a mixed bag of red, white and brown onions. It should be interesting to see which types, if any fare better than the others.

Once the ground is dug, planting onions and garlic is pleasingly hassle-free. Onion sets go, about 10cms apart, in shallow drills which are then covered up to leave just the tip poking out.

allotment blog

Elephant garlic gets buried about 4 inches deep, and regular garlic in trowel dug holes just under the soil surface. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the elephant garlic. The cloves I planted today were massive


I managed to get the last of the garlic in just as the gloom was gathering, which was about 4pm; no more midweek evenings down on the plot now, that's for sure.

All done
I just had time to harvest some chard, some black radishes, some lettuces and a few leeks. I'll never get bored of seeing pictures like this:

grow your own

We ate some cooked chard for the first time tonight, first wilting down the stalks, then the leaves, in some butter and a splash of water. Absolutely delicious, and it's a real looker to boot.

grow your own

Finally, in praise of black Spanish radishes; these really have grown beautifully for us and have a full a spicey/radishey flavour. I like how oddly some of them have grown.

grow your own

But once trimmed and chopped, they're also very pretty, the dark skin looking great against the pale flesh, and making a nice change from more regular red radishes.

grow your own

So, a successful day, finished with a dinner made only of things we've grown (a first!); leeks, chard and romanesco cauliflower, each cooked in nothing more than butter, water, salt and pepper. Fantastic.

6 comments:

  1. We had a steam train ride up to Newcastle and then west to Carlisle on Saturday and it was very cold. We did see sprinkles of snow from the train window but Carlisle was bright and clear.

    Our onions and garlic are planted although some of our garlic has been retained to plant in tubs.

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    1. Steam train? That sounds fun. My folks are from Dumfries so I know the Newcastle-Carlisle run well; parts of it are lovely. I'm hoping the ground isn't already too wet and cold for our allium plantings. Will probs do some in pots as well, as a bit if a back up.

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  2. Just processed your blog for blotanical. I love growing veggies and will be reading your blog archive. Welcome!!!

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  3. When I look at all you have done I feel very ashamed thinking about the mess on my allotment. I really need to get something done and get the garlic and beans in the ground before it gets too cold. Fing3ers crossed for the weekend.

    Everything looks great and you should be very proud of yourselves!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouragement! Hopefully the weekend will bring some decent allium and bean planting weather. In fairness, I probably cherry-pick the more successful and salubrious sections of the plot to write about; our recently failed winter spinach and lettuce are notable for their absences here...

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