Garlic, Bugs and Curses Galore

What’s happening with the weather gods? The rain has come too late for a bounteous crop of spuds but is perfectly timed to ruin my garlic bulbs that are desperately in need of a good sun basking.

I had a tricky decision to make this weekend. The ground was sodden and with no respite promised, the bulbs of garlic that had appeared to be drying a fortnight ago were now disintegrating into a white fluff. I decided to pull the lot up and deal with the drying task at home.

We’ve now got close to 100 bulbs of wet fresh garlic, lined up under every radiator in the house, acting as a dubious pomander. I’d put them in the airing cupboard but I don’t think the clothes would maintain their just washed, lenor freshness.

While I was despairing over the bulbs, Lynn was constructing the insect hi-rise. This has been a monster in the making – cutting hundreds of nettle and bracken stems to size has tried our patience but Lynn had the worst of it while trying to bring the whole she-bang together.

As ever with construction tasks, we start off appearing prepared, drill charged, screwdriver to hand, multiple assorted screws and so on but then the facade begins to crumble. Drill bits aplenty but they are all masonry bits, screwdriver does the job until the screw head flies out and disappears in the neighbour’s strawberry patch.

This is when the job really starts and the cursing and sweating begins.

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Wild Rocket Pesto

I have a substantial glut of ever so slightly over the hill rocket, last year I attempted to use it up by boiling the rocket but I won’t be making that mistake again. Yesterday I thought I’d risk a handful in a batch of home made pesto.

Eliane recommended The New Penguin Cookery book a while ago, and on the basis of her review I invested in it. It is indeed a damn fine book and has a recipe for assorted pestos including a rocket and walnut version. Having read and absorbed the details I then proceeded to ignore the instructions – a dodgy tendency of mine.

Wild Rocket Pesto

My version went something along the lines of a light grab of pine kernals pounded with 3 cloves of garlic, and an equal amount of basil and rocket, also bashed into submission. No walnuts because I don’t like them and no Parmesan because I forgot about it. I did add a couple of very stingy slithers of Manchego which were kicking around the back of the fridge and a small dollop of olive oil.

Very tasty – I served it with gnocchi.

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Sunbasked Garlic

Sunbasked Garlic

A lot of my crops have been cleared from the ground this month. I’ve just about eaten all the onions, both rows of broad beans have been scoffed and the remains have filled all three of my compost bins.

The plot is looking bare but at least the garlic looks promising.

Layered Strawberries

The strawberries have gone nuts producing runners faster than fruits so I’ve lopped most of them off. This particular variety are so tasty that I’ve kept a few back to propagate some more plants.

The peas won’t last an awful lot longer, Feltham First was a good variety for an early crop but they aren’t particularly tasty. They are very starchy and taste like marrowfat peas when they get a bit bigger. I might use them again for an overwintering crop but I’ll have to hunt around for a sweeter spring sown variety.

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Sacrificial Caullis

My squashes have not done at all well this year and if I don’t find myself buried under a glut of courgettes by mid Summer then I will have to declare myself an allotmenting failure.

I didn’t help myself very much by sowing 7 year old seed as the germination rate has been exceptionally poor. The fresh gherkin seed didn’t do too badly but my little plants were swallowed whole by the slugs and I’ve been forced to start again.

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Last week I planted my single successful courgette plant in amongst the sweetcorn, inter planted with climbing french bean “Blue Lake” in the classic Three Sisters arrangement. Since then it has done nothing but rain so I arrived at the plot this morning, convinced that a silvery trail would be all that was left of my gardening pride.

Thankfully the squash survived the week. I seemed to have provided an unintended decoy when I planted out my cauliflower seedlings on the same day. Every single one of them has been gnawed down to their flimsy little stumps. I had a few more left in the seed bed so these have gone out, along with a scattering of almost the entire packet of blue pellets. Slugs make me very angry.

I removed the earliest row of broad beans today, they were just about finished and I needed the space to plant out my purple sprouting broccoli and other assorted brassicas. I left the roots of the bean in for the nitrogen but the stalks have filled all 3 of my compost bins. I hope they compost down quickly as I’ll be removing the second row in a few weeks time.

Garlic

The garlic next to the beans are looking very sorry for themselves. All the foliage is badly covered in rust and although I must be a couple of months too early I have started to lift some of the bulbs.

They are drying off in the greenhouse now.

Lunch was an al-fresco delight today. I boiled up peas and broad beans on the trangia and tossed them in garlic and olive oil before adding a selection of the plot leaves – rocket, mustard, beetroot, spinach and mixed lettuce.

Finished off with a tonne of strawberries. These particular strawberries are so delicious I’m even prepared to share half with a slug, non will go to waste.

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