Phew. Now all they need to do is grow, so that in six month’s time I will be able to harvest them at my leisure, instead of during the hurly burly of the Christmas Holiday season. Either I have been very smart or completely misguided. Check back in six months… mark it on your calendar.
The first task was to sort out the bed. It is one of my long beds and follows my tomatoes in my crop rotation in the vague hope that any antibacterial properties exuded by the onion and garlic will clean up any residual lurgies hanging about in the vacated tomato bed. Not that the tomatoes will be back in the same bed for another four years, but I like to think I’m doing some kind of healing and restorative work in my garden.
But as it was one of my long beds it has suffered the same problem as the pea bed. So have the other two long beds, but I’ll get to them. When I realised one layer wasn’t high enough to protect my plants from soggy bottoms during a wet summer, I put another layer on each bed. The square ones held together well, but the long ones bowed in the middle and all the soil falls out the sides. Not on this bed – not anymore. I fixed it.
The bed was pretty much weed free as I’d been keeping it that way for months. One thing I have learnt on my onion journey is they hate weeds! Onions are not team players. They hate competition. To avoid a repeat of “that” summer when my entire onion crop… an anticipated years supply, ended up as pickled onions in two modest sized jars – I weed well. The best approach to a well weeded garden bed is to make sure there are none in there in the first place then I fluffed up the soil and added loads of good rich nutrients like compost, sheep poop, blood and bone and a good helping of fertilizer. These plants are going to be there for a long time so they need a good fuel reserves to help them along the way.
Once again I got out my handy dandy trellis to use as a planting guide, as the grids are approximately 5cm square, so I plant one clove or seedling, miss a square and plant another. Then I miss an entire row and start again. It works perfectly every year. Just to give myself that confidence before I start I visualise the size of a garlic bulb and onion and off I go on my merry way.
I planted 96 garlic cloves, which should work out roughly two bulbs a week for next year and 144 Brown Spanish onions, 112 Californian Early Red and 48 Pukekohe Longkeeper, which for some reason didn’t germinate very well this year and so I didn’t get many at all. These are normally my staple crop. Luckily I had the Brown Spanish, which are a limited edition heritage seed. All in all that’s 306 onions and is a full year’s supply of one a day, if you allow for takeaways once a week (although the rule still applies – something from the garden in every meal, even if it is my killer hot chilli sauce) and eating out somewhere else for nine days. “Um, can we come over to your house for tea…. We’ve run out of onions…”
Come again soon – the birds are still singing and the sun is still shining. Oh what a lovely winter.
Sarah the Gardener : o )