Friday, 21 October 2011

It's Never The Same As The First Thyme

It's time for me to insult you all by reminding you how to plant Garlic and Onion sets and sow Broad Beans and Peas.
I say insult because of a recent conversation, (I said something, they replied. That much), I had on ™Twitter.
BBC Gardeners World had reached that time of year too. Big cuddly Monty was about to go to great lengths to explain how to plant Garlic bulbs when , almost as one, a group of friends online all complained that this was in fact helpful but patronising as not only do most viewers already know the basics of planting vegetable but this 'advice' had been repeated annually for several years.
Now, I'm not one to criticise but isn't all gardening advice repetitive?
By the very fact that gardening relies on the coming and going of seasonal changes and the Circle Of Life (copyright Elton John), things will repeat but it is the manifesto of the horticultural correspondent to find some new angle or new approach to the mundane and repetitive.
That said, I'm going to start by talking about planting Garlic..

Grow it. Even if it's just for fun, for the hell of it. To prove you can. To give away to friends or just to string together and hang from the kitchen rafters Brittany Farm House Kitchen style.
Just do it right.
Don't grab a sorry looking specimen off the shelf, or worse, from the chilled cabinet at the local supermarket.
Yes, Garlic reproduces by division so each clove grows into a bulb but there are different varieties that cope with different climates and conditions. The supermarket offerings will have grown in a nice warm sunny climate on probably enriched well drained soil. Yours will struggle to survive in cold, wet conditions on claggy,heavy soil in our temperate and varied climate. 
Choose wisely. Research growing conditions locally and find a supplier from the U.K.
Try The Garlic Farm on The Isle of White. Not exactly next door neighbours but close enough for our purposes.
Maybe you're reading this with a slight brogue accent? Try Really Garlicky, a Highland Garlic Farm.
Whatever you do, remember you are growing a crop and you'll want to treat it the same way you would any other crop. It will be hit by pests, as it is an Allium, think of other onion type plants and the pests that ail them. Viruses, diseases and other weaknesses. Feed them, give them good soil and water them well. 

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