The last of the garlic and spuds

It will be cloudy here today with a minimal chance of rain so I'll be out in the garden planting up geranium Rozanne, a Lillipop Soda Pop gaura and a rosea, the final plants in our newish cottage garden. Before that though I want to write about the last legs of our vegetable garden - a thriving collection of common and not-so-common vegetables and fruits we started growing here in 1998.



It all ended with our final crops of garlic and potatoes being dug up in early September.  We always grew the garlic variety Glen Large, one suited very well to our sub-tropical conditions. It's a purple garlic, with a good garlic taste and one crop per year gave us enough garlic for an entire year. They were planted up in March and harvested in August/September. If you want to grow garlic, it's best to know which garlic to grow in your area and when you have your garlic, break up the heads, select the largest cloves for planting and that will give you the best harvest. If you've chosen good quality organic heads, you can eat the smaller inside cloves.  Planting small cloves will give you small heads at harvest time.


When you harvest the garlic, allow them to lay in the sun for the first day, then brush off all the soil, and lay them under shelter for a few days before you clean them properly. Trim the bottom roots, cut off any bent or broken bits and hang them to dry for a few weeks. Then you can cut off the green tops and bring them inside to use.  It's a good idea to put aside enough cloves to plant the following year. Don't forget to choose the largest cloves, wrap them in a brown paper bag and leave them in a dark cupboard or if you're in a hot climate, in the bottom of the fridge until you're ready to plant them.




Our other final crop was Rudy Lou potatoes. It was the first time we'd grown that variety and the harvest was dismal - small potatoes, only 5 kg in total and very bland.  We planted them in April and harvested in September and I'm pretty sure the lack of rain during that time, coupled with not enough hand watering gave us such a disappointing crop.  Potatoes are usually a good vegetable for the backyard gardener. We had great success with Dutch Creams over the years but whatever your choice, if you look after them, they'll generally reward you with potatoes much tastier than those from the supermarket.



So now the cottage garden is growing well. It's mainly flowers, herbs, cucumbers, a few leafy greens and tomatoes. I picked four White Crystal cucumbers yesterday and had a cucumber sandwich for tea last night. This variety is the cucumber that was commonly available when I was growing up in Sydney in the 1950s. They have an excellent taste and is far superior to those watery, plastic wrapped cucumbers.  If you're looking for a good cucumber that will add a lot of flavour to your salads, this is the one to go for.

In the next couple of weeks I'll take a few photos of the cottage garden as it is now. Hanno and I were sitting out there the other day and we are both very pleased with it. It won't be the hard work the vegetable garden used to be but it will give this old lady something to fuss over every day, as well as a few things to eat and flowers for the house.  Happy gardening everyone!


29 comments

  1. What's that about being an old lady? LOL! Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remind myself that I am now 71 but not as old as you though..by 4 months. Ha ha! I have let my veggie garden go too and am trying to keep some of my flowers alive in the big dry. The hollyhocks are growing really well for some reason. A DTE forum member gave me the seeds. Rhonda, have a great day and give Gracie a big hug from me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chel, you'll be an old lady in about four months. I'll send your certificate of authenticity when the clock ticks over. I wish I could grow hollyhocks. What beautiful plants. Gracie says hello.

      Delete
  2. Cottage gardens are very rewarding. I have one, too. Funny that you wrote about red potatoes, I just finished eating one. I bought mine at the store, though. No having rain really changes the harvest. My Meyer lemon tree didn't give me any fruit for years during the drought! This year it is covered. I hope you get some rain soon, and am happy to hear that you are enjoying your flowers. They are good for the soul.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your garlic looks great and good tips. I have only tried growing it once and they were tiny so will try again next year. I might grow the same variety you grew as I'm in Brisbane so should be good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy, Green Harvest will have Glen Large next year at planting time. That's where I get mine.

      Delete
  4. Looking forward to seeing your new cottage garden thrive over the coming months. This weekend is a long one here in Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup, so I will be planting out my tomatoes (local belief is not to plant out tomatoes until after the Melb Cup, as the last of the cold/frosty nights have gone).
    Some basil, an eggplant, strawberries and alyssum will also be added to the veggie patch, whilst at the nursery I couldn't resist buying an Gallipoli Rosemary (this plant has been produced from cuttings originating from a wild rosemary brought back from the hills of Gallipoli by a wounded Digger)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Rhonda
    I am just putting in a no dig garden as a reward for retirement. I had thought at 63 I was a bit crazy but I realized I wanted to be a little self sufficient and I was inspired by your writings. I am being measured and building 2 areas that are manageable. I am in Brisbane and will give that garlic a try. Looking forward to seeing your new garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Bernie. It will be a great reward that will keep you nicely occupied during your retirement. Good luck.

      Delete
  6. I love homegrown garlic and it is one of the few things that I rarely if ever buy as we are able to grow what we need. I am about to buy my bulbs for sowing for next years harvest, as I am in the Northern Hemisphere and we are heading into Autumn this is the time I put the cloves in the ground. I remember well the first time I did this, it was like magic when, months later, I dug up whole bulbs. It was a great feeling and very tasty!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You folks are just youngsters! My dad is 88 years old and still gardens a huge garden in West Michigan. He grows enough to share with my family although this year was not a good year for most veggies. The rabbits kept him hopping and they ate ALL the green beans and he tried replanting at least 3 times. The butternut squash didn't do so well either. But he had lots of cabbage, grapes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, cucumbers, peppers to share with us and enough for him and mom (86 years old) to can and freeze.

    Alice

    ReplyDelete
  8. Gorgeous garlic, that. I will never again buy garlic, as it is so easy to grow. Sounds like your cottage garden is coming along. What a wonderful way to spend your time. Continued blessings...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good Morning Rhonda, I was wondering about your garden and the changes you are going through. I would like to know the process you have gone through in redesigning your garden and working out what plants you want. I have to change my garden but it just seems so intimidating and I don't know where to start. I would like to make the garden more friendly for the parrots, our kookaburra Fredrick and butterflies. While I don't have the time for vegetables for us. I seem to have all the time for Fredrick. Any advice you can provide will be very much appreciated. Regards Megan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning Megan. The process has been very loose and organic, just making one small step and then another. However, I'm sure that with a little more thought I could create a blog post that would explain what we did, when we did it and why. We have a family of kookaburras here so I know how charming they can be, and we all need charm and interest in our gardens. Leave it with me and I'll think about it a bit more.

      Delete
  10. I am enjoying reading about your transition Rhonda. Is there any thought to updating your book to include life in this next season? You're reaping the benefits now of what you've sown in the past, both figuratively and in reality. I appreciate the wisdom shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tracey. I've not thought about updating any books but if there is a call for it, I could write about life in older age, how we created the life we've got now and how we got here. I'll just have to think about how I do that well and what form it would take.

      Delete
  11. It will be a pleasure to watch your new(ish) garden grow and will allow you to still enjoy some gardening. Take care x Kate (Tassie)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good Morning Rhonda, I’m so jealous of your fabulous garlic crop. I planted my first crop this year & it was a dismal failure. Out of the 25 organic cloves I planted I only got 10 bulbs so tiny they could pass as a big clove. What’s your secret? I live in the drought affected Southern Downs but I did manage to keep the water up to the garlic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the risk of sounding like your mother, and with respect, don't feel jealous, it's a waste of energy. Aim instead to be inspired by what you see around you. Anyhow, I know how frustrating it is when you plant and don't get what you expect. It's the pits. We prepared our soil with compost and cow manure, then watered it in, a couple of weeks before planting. Your soil should be free draining. Choose your largest cloves, the smaller ones shouldn't be planted - eat them. Plant with the point just below the surface of the soil about 4 inches between each plant. We watered twice a week and gave the crop Seasol once a month. And weed, garlic hate weeds. I hope that helps you. Let me know how you go next year. xx

      Delete
  13. Look forward to seeing your new gardens. You have earnt the right to sit and relax with them. We have had great success with garlic and potatoes here so far. It's quite hot and windy today in central west Victoria but hopefully a little extra rain over the weekend. I will look out for your pics.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello from Norway. I started to be "old" already at thirty, and now at 48 I am on crutches, next most likely a wheel chair. So the gardening aspirations have had to follow my health. Love your cottage garden, what a lovely place to enjoy a cup of tea. Your back porch/patio is the nicest place too.I am going for flowering bushes and herbs in pots next year. I also have two red - currant bushes I love. I can sit on a chair when I pick them and the berries make such lovely jam, jelly and red-currant drink. Blessings Pam

    ReplyDelete
  15. At the moment I'm "revamping" my garden. Out with the daisy bushes and in with the geraniums. I love the smell and different colours of geraniums.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Its like the end of an era, reading about the end of your veggie garden! But as one phase ends, another begins. Look forward to reading about your cottage garden in future posts. Gail

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love bringing flowers from the garden into our home too, Rhonda. It brings me so much pleasure to wander round the garden of a morning and to snip a bloom here and there to make up a bunch. I planted a new salvia in my cottage-y garden this week as well as two rose geraniums that I struck from cuttings. I don't really have much of a plan other than filling in gaps with flowers! Meg:)

    ReplyDelete
  18. We mowed over two weedy uncared for flower beds and that is the end of that. We have now torn out all of the hard to care for beds in the front of the house and will stick to containers on our back deck. It sure is freeing!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Rhonda and Hannover off topic here I know but as your 'new' dishwasher is now a few years old,I wondered how it's going for you as our elderly one has just worn out? Also,while I'm here how are you finding the new cook top?Sorry to be a bother but we have similar households with similar cooking habits and I trust your judgement.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Your garlic is lovely. Personally, I've never had much luck with growing garlic...the bulbs always end up disappointingly small even though I only plant large cloves. Is it possible that I am using too much compost? I think I heard somewhere that root vegetables won't grow large if the soil is too rich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Garlic loves compost, Laura. Are you fertilising while they're growing? You need to give your growing garlic some seaweed solution, comfrey tea or a weak liquid fertiliser at least once a month. And make sure all the weeds are pulled out.

      Delete
  21. In Canberra its time to plant these at the moment. Im thinking of getting a few potato towers as im in a rental and growing up is always easier than trying to make the garden beds fertile. Zucchinis are always a crowd pleaser as are tomatoes even though i dont eat the later. Might try for some pumpkins also. you never know.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rhonda, thank you for the advice re: growing garlic. I have always put a thick layer of compost (chicken bedding) on top of the garlic after planting, but I have not been feeding it during the growing season. I will try that this coming year. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment, I read all of them. Comments are an important part of my blog because they help build a community here.
These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.
No commercial information or links will be published.