19 June 2008

Mid Season Garlic Haircuts

Come June-ish, hardneck garlic shoots up a pencil thick 'stem' with a kind of upside down teardrop shaped pod that goes to a long point. The stem, as it grows, curls around in a couple of loops. If left, this pod at the end gets bigger and little cloves form inside which then drop to the ground and start new garlics. You can propagate garlic this way, but from what I've read, you get a better garlic bulb if you cut the scape off when it curls once or twice since then, the plant's attempt at making seed is thwarted and it'll put all of it's energy into forming a bigger, juicier bulb. Since I use cloves from a bulb to plant garlic the following year I don't need the seed cloves from the top scape and I just cut them off.

Apparently you can steam or stir fry the scapes and eat them too! They're supposed to have a milder garlic flavour. Softnecks do not grow these scapes, and for both types of garlic you can tell when they're ready to pull by looking at how much of the leaves have browned and dried back.

10 June 2008

Onion Disaster, Onion miracle

First off, the Onion Disaster. I have been starting onions every 2 weeks since march, so I have quite alot of onions right now in the garden. They are currently at the 'green onion' stage, so thicker than a pencil and not quite starting to bulb yet. I've been really happy with my onions since it was one of my goals to grow better onions this year. I started them from seed and i didn't thin them out, so they are growing in bunches, on average about 5 onions per bunch.

Now, one of the other new vegetables I chose to grow this year was bush beans. Since I've never grown either before too in depth, I planted the bush beans right beside the big row of transplanted onion starts and went away satisfied at my garden planning. Fast forward two weeks and OOPS! I didn't realize that beans and onions are enemies. From garden experience I know the basics of companion planting such as tomatos/basil/nasturtiums, garlic/roses, borage/strawberry, the three sisters, mint/cabbage and various other successful pairings. I was reading up the other night in one of my big garden books and what a surprise it was when I read that beans and onions don't grow well together. I couldn't really figure out why, nobody had an explanation, just that they wouldn't grow to full yield. I was upset that I had not researched beans enough to know this, but what can you do? At least the onions were green onion sized, it's just that there was so many i had to pull that now I have a huge excess of green onions so I've been forced to give away alot. So even though my planning of a successive harvest of onions is kinda out the window, at least I learned something I'll never forget. Beans hate Onions. :)

Now on to the onion miracle. Last year I bought some organic onion sets from a guy at a Seedy Saturday. I planted them that year, grew a bunch of bunches of onions, cured them, hung them in braids to dry in the basement. They've been there ever since last july/august and I've been eating them steadily. For fun last week I planted a couple in a grand experiment.

small onions from last year:


I was SO excited this week when I saw little green sprouts poking up through the soil. I was also very encouraged by the successful impromptu experiment and planted some more! Go onions! Go onion miracles!

9 June 2008


Easy Peasy Cheap plant row labels. Cut out of pop cans and wire.

3 June 2008

So much gardening!

Well! It's been REALLY busy this past month. Despite being a pretty cold May, I've been planting like crazy. This year I'm trying some new things. Leeks, raddichio, new types of lettuce, and storage onions are some examples. I've planted about 4 different kinds of lettuce so far including 'great lakes lettuce'(above), 'red coral lettuce', romaine lettuce, good ol' brun d'hiver lettuce and of course we'll be planting some bronze arrowhead later on. The romaine lettuce is my 3rd generation of this type. For two years in a row, I've grown it and saved the seed, then replanted the seed. It's best when picked young. New herbs include Betony, Swiss Mint and Orange mint. Of course I'm growing all the regular tea herbs, chamomille, peppermint, Bergamot, Lemon Mint, Marshmallow, Cilantro, thyme, lemon thyme, Borage, Strawberries, Basil, Dill, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, soapwort etc etc. I love herbs, I think every year I will add many new types of herbs to the garden. Onions are going very well. I hope to store a whole bunch of them and eat them throughout the winter. The garlic just keeps getting BIGGER. I can't wait to pull it up. The hardneck varieties are just starting to get the scape thing that curls.The only issues we've had so far is a late blight problem on the tomatos I started and some of the other plants I had hardening off out in the front of our house. There's been construction on the street for a couple of months now, and it's pretty dusty in the air around our neighbourhood. I'm pretty sure, since late blight is contracted by stuff from the air, that the construction was the cause. They are digging pretty deep and stirring up all sorts of stuff that ends up in the air. To support this, is the plants hardened off out the back of the house, that didn't have any problems. With every problem though, you learn something, and I recovered by growing different tomatos and starting some new beans and stuff.

3rd generation romaine:

white icicle radish:

wala wala onions:

The spinach I'm growing is a slow growing vining spinach. It's awesome and has red stems.