Early summer is a lovely time of year when things really get going and before high summer sun comes along to make me have the highest water bill in Spain.
11th May: Things I have been doing today.
🦇 Harvesting Autumn planted garlic. Garlic is so simple to grow and good fun. All you have to do is in late Autumn take some cloves of garlic – the stuff from the supermarket is fine – then push an individual clove into the soil, about 4 inches, then leave it. I plant mine under my citrus trees because they will get watered with the tree. It also helps to plant them in a pattern to stop you hoeing them out as weeds in there early stages.
You harvest garlic when the upper leaves start to yellow and bend over. Lift the whole plant out of the soil using a spade or trowel, it is best not to use a fork as you may damage the bulbs see (photo below). Once you have it out of the ground then you need to dry it for a couple of weeks still with the top growth on; I try and steal my wife’s baking cooling racks but she has started hiding them. I now dry them on a mesh tray see (photo below). We will come back to them in a few weeks, but in the meantime we are safe from Vampires in my house – I don’t know about you though, I think I just saw a bat fly past!
🛁 Getting bulbs ready for bed. If you were paying attention you may remember that I lifted some flag Iris bulbs the other week to make way for new roses. I have carefully dried these over a few weeks so that I can get them ready for autumn planting. Now it is time to clean them up and get them ready for bed. However, unlike mucky kids you cannot wash the dirt off them. If you do all you will be left with in the autumn is a mess of mildew mush. Instead you have to carefully peel off all the soil and muck and take them back to the bulb hiding underneath ( see photo below).
Once you have all the muck off, just like children after a bath they are lovely, clean and shining ready for bed (see photo below). Store them safely in a trug or similar till late autumn in a cool dry space; your shed is ideal but watch out for mice – say goodnight and tell them you will see them in the autumn.
🌿 Take cuttings from strongly growing plants. Now is the ideal time for taking cuttings from your plants. They should all be growing strongly now and this is the ideal time. Remember, when you take cuttings you get a free plant and possibly bankrupt your local garden centre. Cuttings are very easy to do if you follow the following three steps:
1. Select a strongly growing non flowering stem. Cut off about 20cm using a sharp knife.
2. Take off all the lower leaves so that only the top 2/4 remain.
3. If you have hormone rooting powder dip the stem in, if not, just make a hole in well watered compost in 4 in pot and then plant up to four cuttings around the edge
Resist the temptation to over water, or to try and pot them on too soon. Patience is a virtue in gardening, leave it about 4 weeks before you even think about it.
The picture below shows a wide range of cuttings I have taken over the last month or so. These are now hardy enough to sit out on my potting bench. The more delicate younger ones are still in my little mini greenhouse. Some of these will be planted in my garden, but most will be sold at our Open Garden Day on 27th May to support our Church – see you there!