Planting Garlic and the Winter Garden.

Well the mid-winter solstice is upon us now and although we always associate garlic planting with 21st of June, you can start planting anytime from the autumn equinox and aim to get it in by the shortest day.  For those with warmer climates and the risk of rust in the heat of summer, then planting earlier is a good idea. (note to self for next year!)  Having said that, it is better to get it in the ground when you can rather than not at all so don’t be put off by strict rules but get planting.  I have planted well into July before and still get good results.

Most imported garlic is treated with some fairly drastic chemicals so garlic is definitely on the list of things to plant in your family vegetable garden.  Not only can It be used as a culinary food but it has wonderful therapeutic qualities – great for our immune systems.   How much you plant depends on how much your family needs.  If you think that you use one big clove per week – then plant 52 plus a few extra for unexpected occurrences.  Then plant another 25 or so to ensure you have seed for next year.  Garlic seed is getting harder to come by these days and it is something you can grow yourself then do it.  The fatter the cloves the bigger your eventual garlic will be.

Garlic laid out 15cms apart before planting in soil.

If you haven’t done so already, add plenty of manure, compost and blood and bone. Some wood ash and a little lime is also beneficial.  I mark out rows then lay out the cloves around 15cms apart.  Plant at twice the depth so between 2-5 cms apart.   Space between rows is up to you. I put mine 20-30 cms apart which is quite intensive but you do need to be able to hoe down each row if needed.  I then water in with a bit of liquid seaweed and mulch with whatever is available. I also have to cover mine with some wire netting to prevent the occasional naughty chook or duck from foraging for my precious bulbs. Last year the ducks ate about $40 worth of freesia corms I’d carefully planted so I don’t want them anywhere near my precious garlic.

Matariki – the Gardening New Year

Planting garlic is the start of my new year in the garden – so if you are using the crop rotation garden calendar (click ) then it is time to move to the next year in your plan.  Here in New Zealand we have also started to celebrate Matariki – the traditional Maori New Year.  This is based around the traditional gardening year so seems to me a good time to focus on preparing for the coming season.

Elsewhere in the garden we are still gratefully eating silverbeet and any brassicas we can that weren’t destroyed by the caterpillars of the white butterfly which were particularly bad this year.   Broad beans planted in autumn for spring eating are growing slowly – keep up some liquid fertiliser every now and then. The frost will deal to the last of the celery but that has been great for soups and juices.  Annual herbs such as parsley and coriander are still going and perennial herbs such as rosemary and thyme in high demand.  Wrap up warm and enjoy your forays into the winter garden in between sitting by the fire planning your spring garden.

Pests in the garden

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