planting garlic

When I choose what food to grow, particularly in a small space, with limited time, I like to choose something that is expensive to buy, keeps a short time, or comes from a long way away. Astonishingly, garlic is one of those foods that seems regularly to be imported to this country! Considering how effortless it is to grow here, and that it does perfectly well along the latitude that I seem to frequent, both in Canada and in England, it is a perfect crop for me. Have you grown your own garlic? It’s easy – let me show you.

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My mother let me devote one of her raised beds to a bit of garlic. Any pot or sunny-ish spot between plants will do.

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I topped the bed up with some good compost. No need to dig it in, the worms will have the amusement of that job.

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Like other bulbs that you might be planting at this time of year (if the ground around you isn’t yet frozen, nor yet under snow) you’ll want to notice where the roots are, and where the neck is. We’ll separate the cloves and plant the garlic root-side down. It is a bit flat on that end, and pointier at the top, in case you’ve bought garlic specifically for planting and cannot see any roots on the bulb. Buying ‘seed garlic’ may be a good idea, but I’ve never had a problem just using whatever organic garlic I had left in the kitchen.

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Also like other bulbs, you’re going to be planting garlic at a depth about 2 times its length. Press the earth around it so it is well tucked in. You can mulch over the top if your plants will need that kind of protection. It tends to be far too wet here for that, and mild, at sea level on the coast.

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To amend a verse from The Giant Radish: Grow garlic, grow big; Grow garlic grow strong!; Grow garlic, grow huge! I might put some more in another pot or two, as I aspire to grow enough to braid my own garlic. Such satisfaction, a ten minute task done, and in it I’ve won a tiny victory for eating local. I’ve been wondering a little about the true costs of transporting our food a very long way. They aren’t just ecological, and economical, are they? I wonder if these problems are very much about our own connection to our food, attachment to the seasons and the harvest, and a sense of one’s knowledge and self-reliance, too. There’s still time to plant your own garlic.

flower farm

Not so far from our little cottage is a flower farm. We drove across Kentish countryside full of bluebells and blossoming orchards, to visit the land where Blooming Green grow row upon row of gorgeous flowers. We’ve something very special happening this week, and we wanted to pick flowers ourselves, ones that are in season, local, and grown with as much care as the organic food we eat.

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One day I shall grow my own cutting garden, inspired by this gorgeous bit of England. If you have something special you’d like to pick your own flowers for, do visit Blooming Green Flowers, they are so wonderful. Thank you ever so much, Jen & Bek!

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autumn bouquet

I have a treat for you. A very old-fashioned, local, seasonal bouquet from the wonderfully florally fixated Rona Wheeldon of Flowerona. Rona writes about everything flower-related including florists, artists, designers, homeware, floristry books, exhibitions, fashion, gardening, flower markets, interior design, photographers and stationery. I’m ever so pleased to show you her little project for the sleepy autumn garden, made especially for you.

seasonal bouquet © rona wheeldon 2011

Autumn is well and truly here in the UK and our gardens are starting to think about hibernating for the winter. However, for some of us, there are still blooms to be found in our gardens.

seasonal bouquet © rona wheeldon 2011

For the bouquet, I used hydrangeas, viburnum, astrantia, heather, skimmia, photinia, rose hips and sedum. I stripped the bottom of the stems of their foliage and de-thorned the rose hips. Then I arranged each variety on the table.

seasonal bouquet © rona wheeldon 2011

Starting off with the berries, I made a hand-tied bouquet, adding stems one at a time, at an angle and turning the bouquet as I did, so that the stems would spiral. Then I secured the arrangement with string, cut the stems at a slant and placed them in the vase.

seasonal bouquet © rona wheeldon 2011

It’s very simple to do and is a lovely way to use the last of your autumn blooms from your garden. The flowers in the bouquet I’ve created are also available from florist shops. Many thanks to Nicole at The White Orchid in Weybridge for sourcing the flowers for me.

seasonal bouquet © rona wheeldon 2011

Happy arranging!

I’ve never made a bouquet with berries and hips, how gorgeous. I love to know more about hand-tying a bouquet, especially one that I can pick myself or know to be local and in season from a florist. Completely delightful, thank you for this autumn bouquet, Rona!. I’m off to look for flowers and berries and hips in the garden and the hedges.

real milk

Life is very sweet but slightly mad around here just now as I try to find homes for all our things and get accustomed to our place. We are facing the slow pace of the country, and while it is a delight, it is hard to sort out how to get around, putting internet and telephone in, and getting everything running. Sorting out food is far easier. We took our dear friend Sonny with us to the organic farm down the road.

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They let us explore and meet the darling piglets and cows, and go to the roundhouse where friendly folk come to do woodwork. The children and I tried out the lathe. More about this later. (Oh, my heart races when I think of working with a lathe!) The cows were peaceful creatures, and we were amazed at how gentle the smells of the farm were. I wonder if this is a biodynamic/organic quality? They are healthy, contented animals.

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The farm produces real, clean milk, untreated, with all the enzymes left in. The herd have their horns, which is understood to affect not only how they organise socially (as well as preventing squeezing a lot of animals into a small space) but has an influence over the digestive enzymes they produce. Interesting? It’s been quite some time since we had raw milk and it is gorgeous! We got some of their raw milk cheddar and some yogurt. None of us wanted to leave the creatures, the children are talking about volunteering to look after them. We took a great load of local fruits and vegetables home with us. Such a pleasure. We’re looking forward to our next trip, when we can go visit the chickens and cows and say hello to the piggies again, after shopping for our food. Bliss.

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