November is up and running, dumping us deep into autumn and battering our senses with the fortnight long Guy Fawkes festival celebrations. I used to prefer it when they were confined to just the one night, but now the oohing and ahhing at twinkling fireworks has been replaced with grumbles and moans as the explosions frighten the dog and the garden becomes littered with soggy cardboard tubes.
But this rude nighttime cacophony does serve one useful purpose – it acts as a memory-jogging klaxon that it’s time to get busy with the autumn garlic planting.
Last year’s garlic harvest was slightly underwhelming. I experimented by growing bulbils and corms, prized from the previous year’s harvest, which gave me very mixed results: a few decently pudgy bulbs; a few skinny tiddlers. The experiment was slightly tarnished as I didn’t plant them out in the best patch in the garden, emphasised by the equally spindly leeks peeking over their shoulders.
This year I’m going back to basics and have got hold of some quality garlic bulbs to shove into a well prepared raised bed. I’m growing three varieties: the pinkish Carcassone Wight; the ruddier Red Duke; and the potentially large, purple Bohemian Rose. Three hardneck varieties that should not only reward me with vampire-scaring cloves but also some equally delicious curly green scapes.
The new bed has been weeded, the feral cat’s crap* tossed over the fence, and a few scoops of manure have been mixed into the existing soil. The bulbs have been split and each clove of garlic dropped into holes spaced a hand width apart and filled so their tips sit just below the surface. Providing the cat doesn’t dig them up they’ll grow over winter and swell to a mighty size next spring.
Garlic supplied by Marshalls
*The local cats are taking advantage of the dog cowering in the corner of the living room. He’ll be back soon. They’ve been warned…