Ail ail sailor…choosing seed garlic for a coastal plot

We planted our first crop of garlic in our new garden this year (2016). I was very lax on taking photos unfortunately.  We only had the house midway through the previous summer (2015), much too late to plant garlic. This year seemed much windier and colder than last summer and we believe the garlic suffered more from that than from any disease, and with everything else we weren’t really prepared for it – our wind netting went up a bit too late.

Vegetable plot July 2016

Garlic and chums in the new veg plot, July 2016 – foreground is raspberries and white borage, then gardlic, shallots, beans, kale, yacon, Chinese artichokes…you know, the usual. Wind netting in place in this picture – the empty bottles on top of cane to avoid too frequent trips to the eye surgeon

The tops were bashed about badly and started to rot before they had begun to die down – no signs of any disease, but it’s been hard to get them dried off and a number of bulbs had to be thrown away as they’d gone a bit odd before they dried off. This year we intend to plant fewer cloves, better spaced out, possibly slightly ridged – the wind netting is ready and if we get our skates on there may even be some wooden hurdles, though that’s probably a bit optimistic.

The best performing varieties were the “Wight” varieties, Early Purple Wight and Solent Wight, bought from Tuckers – our “local” nursery, also seemed good value and I’ve used them before. We also picked up some Cristo from the garden centre – in past trials on Which? it rated highly but once again we found the bulbs very small and won’t be growing it again. We’ve grown a fair few other varieties in the past – looking at some notes we had good results with Marco and Germidour, and even Cristo in the past. I’m very poor at notekeeping which is one of the reasons I’d like to get blogging  again as we start a new garden.

Garlic, dried off. Not certain which variety these are.

Garlic, dried off. Not certain which variety these are.

In past years the varieties of garlic available seemed to change year on year and you couldn’t bank on buying the same variety one year to the next. There are still “specials” every year but it seems some varieties are pretty consistently available. I need to get an order in for a couple of bulbs as soon as possible so I’ve been looking at what’s available this year and what might be most suitable for our cool, damp, maybe windy conditions here. Shortlist so far:

Garlic varieties for a cool, wet plot:

Early Purple Wight – Widely available, local supplier Tuckers says: “ideal for British conditions…An early British variety…harvest May to June, will keep for three months but best used fresh. RHS AGM” – £2.40 a bulb at Tuckers. Performed well in 2016 in our new plot.

Solent Wight – Tuckers again: “ideal for British conditions. Latest maturing. Harvest July to August; should store until April. RHS AGM.” Also a Which? best buy although produces a smaller crop. £2.40 a bulb.  Performed well in 2016 in our new plot.

Extra Early Wight – Final word from Tuckers: “harvests about 10 days earlier than Early Purple Wight…earliness and reliability”. £2.40 a bulb. Earliness sounds promising, and presumably either the same breeding or at least similar research to the other two above.

Picardy Wight – The Garlic Farm says: “Adapted to cooler and wetter conditions, will grow anywhere in the UK that has proved a challenge to other garlic…will keep to May the following year.” Sounds perfect!

Vallelado Wight also sounds promising for my conditions: “This softneck is more tolerant of our wet cold climate than other Spanish types.”. Same price as Picardy Wight. Tuckers also sell this but don’t mention the tolerance attribute. The question is how tolerant *are* other Spanish types…one to try in the future though.

Where might I buy:

Tuckers: http://www.tuckers-countrystores.com/seeds/vegetable-seeds/garlic-bulbs/ – sell single bulbs which is great for smaller plots or making up your own mix. I’ve bought from here a number of times and generally the bulbs have been pretty good quality. £1.25 delivery on garlic under £30.

The Garlic Farm – http://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk/ – £5.95 for two bulbs for the varieties I was looking a, but postage is £4.95 which makes it too much of an investment on the scale I’m growing (free over £40 which is great if you can group together). I suspect most suppliers source their seed garlic from here.

Simply Seeds – http://www.simplyseed.co.uk/garlic-bulbs.html – not tried these before. Good price (£1.99 a bulb for Picardy) though smaller stock, and delivery is £2.99 which seems fair.

Other suppliers are a bit crazy on postage, or unclear, or sell only in larger packs. I suspect we’ll go with Tuckers again, but will have a look in to Simply Seeds as they seem to be a genuine nursery, their prices and postage are reasonable and they stock Picardy Wight which I’d like to try. The Garlic Farm is probably best saved for when we have more room!

If anyone does read this and has suggestions on a good variety for my conditions, or a better supplier, I’m all ears. (That’ll make an excellent pun when we get to grow sweetcorn again).

Garlic in storage in a box

Garlic in storage – in a flat cardboard box for ferrying in and out of the sun/rain for drying, now quite a convenient way to store it

 

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More blogging fundamentals…

Day Five – explore some themes

I started that thinking why would I bother…but I’ve never really liked the grey on black banner on the old theme I was using and I thought well, if I can find something with a bit of green in the custom colours (that I don’t have to pay for..) then I might give it a go. I rather like the clean look of this one for now, and although I could do without the titles in caps, it makes a change.

Day Six – Make an Irresistible “About” Page

Well I think that’s setting the bar too high, but I’ve tried to shorten it, take out some (not all) of the gibberish, and split it up in to sections. Tadaaa: https://esculentetc.wordpress.com/about/ – I also added a gallery widget with some of my favourite photos from the blog, which I think makes it a bit prettier and certainly cheers me up every time I look at it.

Day Seven – Start Personalizing Your Site

Too bored of fiddling with images for another site at the moment, so this is a stopgap and will suffice for now. I’d like to do something similar to my old one with apples, peas and nuts, but it needs to have a wide area of light background if I want to keep a blog title on there (which I may or may not do).

Day Eight: Introduce Yourself to the Neighbors!

This one seems a bit mercenary, leaving comments to entice people to visit your blog. I think I’ll continue commenting when I have something to ask or praise on a blog. One thing I’d like would be for it to be easier to keep track when you post comments on other blogs, as sometimes you don’t get a reply for ages afterwards and then it’s easy to forget and miss a response.  Must remember to click “email me” where there’s an option.

Day Nine: Get Inspired by the Neighbors

This is a good idea, and lots of good posts seem to come directly from another, or from reading a range of posts on a certain topic. But I’m still not playing on this one because I think it feels odd to piggyback off someone else’s work just to complete a challenge for myself. So, no thanks WordPress!

Day Ten – aha…Build a Better Blogroll

Finally another one I can actually do. My blogroll (which is a horrific word) has barely changed in years. A couple of the bloggers had stopped posting, a couple had changed their names / URLs and I think a couple were no longer my cup of tea (some of those I’d removed before). In addition I’ve started to read different blogs which I’d like to add. I’ve started by checking the links, adding descriptions, and adding in one more blog for now. Now that I can look at it again I can start updating it over time.

Screenshot of Esculent Etc blog

Screenshot on 26 September 2016, with new header, gallery, colours etc. How long will it last, and how long will it take before I abandon it again? Tune in next week folks.

Who do I write for?

Um, eh heh, hum. I feel a bit of a humbug even saying I write at all (I certainly don’t seem to do it very often although when I do, I surely make up for it with the word count). This is the next stage in the WordPress blogging fundamentals wossname…not really a course, challenge is probably pushing it a bit. The WordPress thingymabob then.

Day Four: Identify Your Audience

(Audience? This is getting worse.)

We often create posts hoping that a specific person (or persons) will see our work. Who’s your ideal reader?

Today, publish a post you’d like your ideal reader to see, and include a new-to-you element.

Tomatoes with predator (Roma, Gardeners Delight, Black Cherry, Brown Dog. One of those is not a tomato)

A post shared by @clusterofhedgehogs on

 

That above is my “new-to-me” element…an image embedded from Instagram. I don’t know how I feel about Instagram, with all the showing off (see above) and evil corporation thing. But then this is The Internet and we’re probably all elements in an experimental computer programme run by white mice and green bug-eyed monsters so it’s probably simpler just to enjoy the pretty bits of it, eat the tomatoes and stroke the dog. Looking at the above I think I’d rather embed my own images in future, but I’m trying this in good faith. Clever little widget though, to be fair.

As for “my ideal reader” and a post I’d like my ideal reader to see…well, let’s ‘ave a go.

We’ve not done terribly well with tomatoes this year and I am wondering if it’s just us. This year seems to have been colder, windier, and possibly wetter – certainly more inconsistent. However eventually the tomatoes have started to crop – some shop bought plants again and some grown from seed. Part of today’s dinner is pictured above: I’m particularly pleased with the Black Cherry and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, sweet but rich, and fairly productive cherry tomato. This year’s crop has also reminded us that Gardener’s Delight has something going for it. Roma, Marmande and Moneymaker from the supermarket are all somewhat indifferent as were old Salt Spring Sunrise seeds and the last of my Brooks’ Special.

I suppose if my ideal reader were to read this, I hope they’d find something useful, reassuring, or curious (tips on varieties, that we had rubbish weather too, or that we had rubbish weather while they bathe in the vats of excess tomatoes they have during this season to beat all tomato seasons). And I’d like to hear their experiences too so I suppose the next thing is to add “tomato” to my WordPress reader tags and try to discover some more interesting and encouraging gardening blogs.

That’s all folks, it’s a poor mishmash of a post (perhaps more of a gazpacho) but I’ve done it so WordPress won’t take away my keyboard licence.