Posts Tagged ‘garlic


Garden Diary: Winter Warmth

Sunlight on a weekend? Yayyyyy! And about bloody time. Didn’t think it would happen after the atrocious weather on Friday in Wellington, but Kapiti really has shone this weekend in it’s white and crisp winter sunlight.

I’m thrilled to report that my garden, despite excessive moisture and neglect is doing really well. Daily, we’re pulling out a wide variety of greens – collard leaves, kale, parsley, spinach, chard, herbs, celery, rocket, beetroot leaves, lettuce, mustard – for fresh and delicious meals. I’m supplementing with the odd head of broccoli, fresh fruit, organic potatoes and carrots from the supermarket. We’re still working our way through stored Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, onions and pumpkins. Quinoa, preserves and bottled cherry tomatoes are going strong.

Romanesco wonders

Last year saw some great broccoli precoce romanesco success but this year we’ve got stunners. Big solid heads with tightly formed fractal patterns that just look beautiful.


So given the gift of sunshine, I’ve weeded the vege beds around the house, which didn’t take long at all. The chickweed may be abundant but it’s easy to get out. Some of it goes into salads. It does cause issues if there’s too much growing around the veges and getting too wet – it holds the moisture and causes rot. But it does provide a nice mulch for bare soil and I felt a little guilty after pulling it all out.

To absolve myself, I invested in some peastraw pellets (pricey at $20) to put around my garlic on the north facing wall. I choose this over any other mulch because as they expand they mat together and don’t blow around. With careful placement, they aren’t in risk of rubbing up against and damaging my precious heirloom garlics.

In the last year I’ve tried to cut down on mulch use – I’m a bit iffy about it. It’s killed far more plants than it’s saved by rubbing against stems, causing rot and harbouring pests and disease. I can see how mulch works really well in tropical climates where it breaks down more readily but I’m cautious about it’s use on NZ gardens. I realise this is going against the zeitgeist, but hey, sometimes I’m a rebel.  I prefer to plant things closer together. Overplanting doesn’t work with garlic so I’m making an exception for my 3 special heirloom varieties.

I’ve got strawberries in winter!

Painting the house a much darker shade has done wonders for the side gardens. It’s trapping so much heat that’s being radiated back into the gardens. How can I tell? I have strawberries in July! Admittedly, not many but they are red, zangy and yum. They’re tiny but that’s because they’re wild strawberry plants – never big but full of flavour.

Flowering now

Borage, pineapple sage, helleborus, feverfew, calendula, marigolds, alyssum, violets, heartsease, penstemons and one single nasturtium.


It’s three days before full moon – perfect for seed-sowing. But I’m taking a break this month – instead I’m looking through my collections, checking seed catalogues and planning for sowing next month.

Planting out

More leeks and cavolo nero.


Garlic Planted

Ya’know how they say plant garlic on the shortest day, harvest on the longest? Well, that’s never really worked for me. I always got such tiny, squiddly little bulbs that I simply couldn’t be bothered using them for cooking. Last year, when I left my bulbs in the ground longer, I got better results. And this year I’m planning for some decent-sized bulbs by getting them in early —  one whole month early.

This isn’t a very radical idea – I’ve heard lots of other gardeners I respect say the same thing lately. And all though today was drizzly and yuck, I got out there and planted my garlic.

I’m trialling three different types of heirloom garlic this year, which I’ve kindly been gifted by a friend. Two types of rocombole and kakanui – very exciting. I’m prepping an article now on the heirloom garlic in NZ – should be together by end of the week… please hold.

This is how I’ve planted my garlic

A couple of weeks ago I dug over the beds for my garlic, added some well-composted material and sprinkled in lime. I’ve made sure the spots were well-draining. I’ve planted the cloves about 12cm apart, pointy end up and covered them with about 4cm of soil.

I keep my garlic well-weeded, and well-fertilised right up into spring while the green tops are growing.

For a really good article on garlic planting, I thoroughly recommend Kath Irvine’s Edible Backyard piece.


Bloody bugs

As yet unidentified evil bean-sucking bugLast December I noticed a lot of what looked like little black ladybugs on my beans. I did lots of research, asked lots of questions but without handy visual references I couldn’t work out what they were. Dear internet content people, please supply more pictures! (Are there any entomologists out there who can please tell me exactly what this thing is?)

Anyway, they had seemed pretty harmless in their small little shiny baby form – until they monstrously transformed into life-sucking bean-devouring plagues of evil. Garlic spray by this time was incapable of warding off their vampiric tendencies and my carefully arranged companion plants just kind of shrugged their shoulders and like insolent teenagers proclaimed “Whateva, I’m not bovvered!” I’ve never wanted to smack a marigold around before, but it needed a wake-up clip.

Advice on how to organically deal to shield bugs and other such painful pests after the jump.
Continue reading ‘Bloody bugs’

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August 2020

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