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  • Grow at Home - Garlic

    Used in everything from stir fry to Shepherds Pie it is pretty rare to find a household that does not have garlic in their kitchen cupboard. But, despite it being relatively easy to grow, many gardeners do not include it in their planting.

    It is a hard working plant that does more than just give a delicious crop though.  Like most of the onion family, garlic is great for companion planting.  Plant between rows of vegetables especially carrots and its scent will deter pests.  This gives a natural boost to your garden's pest protection.  Also, garlic is pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects too so great for encouraging wildlife onto your plot.

    Types of garlic

    There are two main sorts.

    Softneck

    Softneck (Allium sativum var. sativum) is the garlic which most supermarkets stock.  The bulb has a slightly hotter flavour than the Hardnecks, produces more smaller cloves and stores very well. Since the necks are soft, this is the sort you want if you have the time and energy create a garlic plait.  They also sprout relatively quickly so are satisfying to grow for the garlic novice.

    Hardneck

    Hardnecks (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) are closer to wild garlic, with more complex flavours. These garlics have subtle flavour differences created from the soil and weather patterns in the region where you grow them. The advantage of Hardneck varieties for the cook is that their skins usually slip off easily.  They do not store as long as Softnecks though.  Cure and eat them within 3 to 10 months, depending on the variety.

    Garlic_bulbs_with_flowers

     

    There is some debate about hardiness with some believing that Softneck will grow only in the warmer parts of the UK so if in doubt in the coolest parts of the UK it might be a better to choose Hardneck.  Which you choose is up to you though as there is anecdotal evidence of both thriving in areas of the country where they should be struggling.

    There are many varieties of each sort to choose from depending on the flavour and bulb size you would like to produce.

     

    Planting

    When to Plant

    Garlic needs a long growing season.  The cloves can be planted in late Autumn or early Spring but you will get a bigger crop if you plant in Autumn.

    Garlic_plants_in_bed

    Whatever variety you choose, to grow well, it needs a cold period of at least two months. For Autumn sowing, it is therefore essential to sow from early-October to allow the roots to develop before the cold weather sets in. With this in mind Hardnecks should be planted at the beginning of October but Softnecks can wait until around Christmas time. 

    The  Hardnecks will be slower to show themselves so even with this planting timetable you may see the Softnecks appear first.

    Where to plant

    We recommend growing garlic in a rotation system with carrots, onions, leeks, and other root vegetables.  A classic rotation is tomato family, broccoli family, onion family including your garlic.  But as a companion plant we find it makes a great space filler between carrots, sweet peppers, spinach, lettuce and parsnips, roses and other flowers too.

    How to plantrows_of_garlic_growing

    Garlic is rarely planted from seed with the cloves used instead.  These are readily available from seed companies and garden centres but you can use pretty much any garlic cloves hanging around your kitchen ... just gently break apart the bulb and each clove will produce it's own plant

    It can be planted directly into the soil but if you suffer from pests such as birds ripping out your young plants then sowing into Rootrainers first may help your plants survive.  See our recent Overwintering Onions Blog for the full story.

    Plant in fertile, well-drained soil. A Raised Bed works very well. Remove stones from the top 6 inches of soil. Work several inches of compost or well-rotted manure into the bed, along with your fertiliser of choice.

    Planting
    1. Break up the bulbs no longer than 24 hours before you plant them.  Be careful not to bruise or damage them.
    2. Sow the individual cloves 10 cm below the surface, root down (pointy end up) around 4 inches apart to give the bulb room to grow.
    3. Hardneck garlic loves to flower.  Cut off the stem close to the base of the bulb once the flower stem starts to coil.  This will concentrate the plants' energy into the crop beneath increasing the size of the bulb.
    4. Once the leaves go yellow/brown stop watering the plants.  Harvest 2 to 3 weeks later (June onwards)
    5. Try to harvest when the weather is dry.  Loosen beneath it with a fork to prevent bruising the bulb then pull up like a weed.  Leave the plants on the surface of the soil to dry in the sun for a few hours.  Move to somewhere warm and dry, to cure for 3 weeks.
    6. Thoroughly dry the bulbs then store them in a cool, ventilated place away from sun.

    Eating Garlic

    Garlic is unbelievably good for you.  It can lower blood pressure, fat and cholesterol levels.  It can also combat bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

    There are lots of opportunities for the gardener growing their own garlic to plant a few extra and leave it to flower or to experiment with young garlic, picked before it has matured.

    As well as eating the bulb the leaves and flowers are also edible.  They have a milder flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. You may see "green garlic" in the shops.  This is immature plant that has been pulled rather like a scallion.
    When green garlic has grown past the "scallion" stage, but not fully matured, it may produce a garlic "round", a bulb not separated into cloves like a mature bulb. This imparts a garlic flavor and aroma in food, minus the spiciness of the mature bulb.

  • Is this pudding the best thing about summer?

    Summer Pudding or Summer Fruit Pudding is a British dessert traditionally made of sliced white bread, layered in a deep bowl with fruit and fruit juice. The first reference to it as Summer Pudding in print was in 1904, but identical recipes for the much less catchy soiunding 'hydropathic pudding' can be found as far back as 1868.  You can of course still make it with stale bread but for a little extra indulgence my recipe uses brioche to add a buttery softness.

    So, I use strawberries, raspberries and currants Lone-raspberrybecause that's what I grow but if you have been more adventurous and have tayberries, loganberries, cherries or blueberries then these could be used too and have your children proclaiming that their family "make it with Tayberries and its simply the best!"  Nothing like creating a new family classic!

     

    Summer Pudding—using brioche

    This has got to be one of my best recipes; it is so easy and delicious. I make a lot of these in the summer with my children.  They feel so important to have made such a great pudding. You can use a variety of fruits, I always think it is nice to have a few blackcurrants as they are very flavoursome against the gentleness of the raspberries. Of course you can use some fruit that you have frozen to mix with the fruit that is in season.

     

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes

    Waiting time: min 3 hours Serves: 6 – 8

     

    Ingredients:

    2lbs (900g) soft fruits, raspberries,summer-pudding-with mint-on-top

    strawberries, blackberries, white/black/redcurrants...

    6oz (150g) caster sugar

    6 – 8 slices of Brioche

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Use a soufflé dish or pudding basin; cover the bottom of it and the sides with slices of
      brioche.
    2. Hull* the strawberries.
    3. Put the fruit into a pan with the sugar on a low heat, until the fruit has softened for 4 – 5 minutes.
    4. Take it off the heat and spoon out the fruit leaving most of the juices in the pan.
    5. Cover the top of the fruit with more brioche and pour the remaining juice on top of that.
    6. Put a plate that fits into the bowl on top and weigh it down with some kind of weight.
    7. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours – overnight is best.
    8. Finally, just before you are ready to serve, take it out of the fridge.  Take off the plate and the weight, loosen the edges gently and turn it out onto a serving plate.
    9. Perfect served cold with a splash of cream.

     

    * Hull means to take the stalks off the strawberries.

    For a printable copy click here Summer Pudding 

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