Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Garlic Part 2

After promising Garlic Pt. 2 all week, I went and got myself all inspired and decided to lead by example, ie. plant my own and explain the steps I went through.

So if you're ready I suppose I should start from the beginning.

Site selection, same as real estate, Position, position, position.
Garlic prefers a sunny position.(That was easy)

I'm planting the Hardneck variety 'Monaro Purple' today, I'll plant the Softneck variety 'Italian White' in a week or two.

The three bulbs I received from Green Harvest gave me 28 cloves which, if I planted in one straight row would be about 5mts long and at 9 cloves per bulb that should yield me somewhere around 252 cloves, fingers crossed.

Soil Preparation, is very similar to carrots where by you use a part of the garden that has been manured and enriched for a previous crop. Too much fertility and you'll get all top and no bottom.
Also the growth will be too "soft" and will be more susceptible to disease.

I was going to use my mighty Cow manure on this bed as well as the compost but after consulting a few reference books I decided against it (I didn't want to run the risk of too "soft" growth) and just added some of my best compost at a bucket full per mtq sq.

I have a slightly acid soil here and all my reference books suggested Garlic like a slightly alkaline soil so on goes the dolomite again at a hand full per/mtr sq. I should have done this about two or three weeks ago but it's not a perfect world.

The Garlic bed all dug over and ready for planting.

Planting time? Now.
Well for me anyhow.

Garlic likes a month or two of cold weather from below 0-10 degrees Celsius and is usually planted in autumn or early winter.

It seems everyone has an opinion on when's the best time to plant and in the long run it's probably best to use local knowledge or experiment from year to year to find your best planting time.

Planting, Plant cloves 10cm (4 in) deep, spacing them 18cms (7 in) apart in rows 35(14 in) to 40 cms (16 in)apart.
Edit, 1/4/09. Some where around here I should have mentioned to plant pointy end up.

There's more to this than I thought so I'm going for a Garlic Part 3 which will include after care, Pest and Diseases, and Harvesting.

Garlic Part 1

Garlic Part 3


Here is another song that's bound to get stuck in your head. Pip from Rest is not idleness calls them earworm songs.

This one replaced The Marmalade song "Reflections of my life", that I had stuck in my head last week. Grrrrr

I'm working on Garlic Pt 2 right now so in the meantime I hope you enjoy the song.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Marmalade - Reflections Of My Life

Hi all,
I was watching an episode of Life on Mars a couple of days ago and this song was used as an outro sound track.

I haven't heard this song for like 100 years and now, and since then, I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

So I'm thinking maybe if I post it here and you listen to it then you won't be able to get it out of your head and I'll be free and uninfected by it.

I've been very busy in Taxi land this week which means later than normal nights and a bit of sleep deprivation which is leading to a little meanness so I hope the song doesn't drive you too crazy even though it is such a lovely song.

Anyhow, have a nice day enjoy the song and as soon as I get enough sleep Garlic Part 2 will be written.

Four from Eight

Sorry in advance, but round these parts there is only one kind of footy and that's Rugby League.
Just for the fun of t I thought I'd post my picks for the week and see how I go.
Your welcome to join in through comments or bag the crap out of me for supporting NRL, as long as it's all in good fun.

March 27-30
Cowboys v Storm ........................... Cowboys
Dragons v Sharks ...........................Dragons
Eels v Raiders .............................Eels
Rabbitohs v Knights ........................Rabbitohs ( If they fail this weekend I'll stop picking them)
Sea Eagles v Panthers ......................Sea Eagles
Titans v Bulldogs ..........................Bulldogs (Heart says Titans, head says Bulldogs)
Warriors v Broncos .........................Warriors
Wests Tigers v Roosters ....................Roosters

Well I didn't do so well last week and have slipped from 135 down to 220 so here's hoping for a better weekend.

I'm currently ranked 220 out of 2,531 tippers on the ABC Grandstand AFL & NRL Footy Tipping http://tipping.abc.net.au

Wk. one 135 out of 2211
Wk. two
220 out of 2531

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garlic Part 1

Right'o, Garlic.

What got me started on Garlic was the plethora of articles popping up in the indigenous gardening magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Gardening Australia, plus most of the online mail order nursery's like Green Harvest and Diggers have been sending me e-mails about their garlic.

So I'm guessing it must be Garlic time.

One thing that struck me was information about Hardneck and Softneck garlic which is info I'd not come across before.
So what follows is my take on Hardneck and Softneck garlic and which witch is which.

Firstly is the softneck which is the most common garlic we all know and love and the one you are most likely to find in the supermarket.
This is because softneck garlic is easier to grow and plant mechanically and also keeps for longer than hardneck.
There are two main types of softneck garlic: silverskin and artichoke. Silverskin garlic is most common simply because it's easier to grow and keeps longer. Artichoke garlic tends to have fewer but larger cloves and a milder flavour. The artichoke garlic bulb wrappers are coarser than those of silverskins and sometimes have purple blotches.

In a nutshell softneck refers to the fact that bulbs are covered in a white outer flaky skin and it does not produce a flower stem. Simple as that.

Softneck varieties are the easiest to grow and will accept the widest variety of climates.
If you are in the slightly warmer parts of Australia then this is the one to go for. Not for the tropics though.

The variety I'm planting is Italian white from Green Harvest.
Green Harvest suggests,

'Italian White is a well-known bulb with flat, grey-green leaves; 'Italian White’ is a soft-neck type with creamy white skin, medium to large bulb with up to 17 cloves per bulb.

Worth buying just for cooking as this organic garlic has a superb flavour and will keep for many months'.

Diggers also have Australian White, Early White, Italian Red, Melbourne Market and Silverskin.

Next, or second if you like, is Hardneck varieties.

Hardneck varieties prefer a mild and cool climate with a cool spring. My springs can warm up quickly at times so I'll just have to wait and see how I go with this one.

There are three main types of hardneck garlic: rocambole, porcelain and purple stripe. Rocambole garlic usually has up to a dozen cloves of a tan or browny colour. Porcelain garlic has a satiny white wrapper and the fewest cloves in a bulb, perhaps as few as four very large cloves. Porcelain garlic is often mistaken for elephant garlic. Purple stripe garlic is highly distinctive because of its colouring, with bright purple markings.

The variety I'm growing is a Rocambole called 'Manaro Purple'. from Green Harvest who go on to say, ‘Monaro Purple’ is a hardneck or top-setting variety which is suitable only for cooler areas. It is also called a ‘rocambole’ variety from the habit the flower stem has of looping over on itself to produce a distinctive twist. Rocambole types have a sweet, nutty flavour with 6-8 cloves per bulb.

So if a softneck is defined as having no flower stem then you'd be thinking that hardnecks would have a flower stem and you'd be right, but there is a twist.

Hardneck garlics have a "scape" - (a flower stalk) that coil and bend in curious ways. On the top of this scape grow a number of bulbils which are often mistakenly referred to as garlic flowers.

To get a good description of this "scape" then "Yard and Garden News" have it explained it clearly.

Well that's it for softneck and hardneck varieties. I hope I haven't confused you anymore than I am. If you have any tips, additions, corrections or questions then please let me know.

Tomorrow I'll post some general info on soil prep and planting.

Garlic Part 2

Garlic Part 3

Tuesday, March 24, 2009



It looks like my very first Kohlrabi is nearly ready.

As I have never cooked or eaten this veggie before I'm wondering if anyone has a favorite recipe or link to a recipe they can send me so as to make sure I get off on the right foot with Kohlrabi?

PS. For anyone waiting I promise to have my garlic post up on Wednesday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

That's100% Bullsh*t mate

That's pure Poll Hereford bullsh*t, that's what this is, not just any old ordinary bullsh*t.

Seriously, good cow manure is hard to come by around here, or at least I find it hard to find.

So when an add came up in the local paper for cow manure at$5.00 a bag I decided to give it a go.

About four hours later I had four bags of his finest and he had 20 of my best dollars.

I spread a little around on a few things to see how it would wet up in the soil (some manures can be notoriously water repellent) after watering and so far everything is just fine and dandy.

I've got a lot of soil prep work ahead of me so I don't see it lasting very long and I'm hoping the worms will just love it.

Now, why is it when you go to the nursery to buy one thing, find out they haven't got what you want and the next thing you know you walk out with something else?

A Blueberry no less.

Ah well, I always wanted one I suppose.

Monday mulching madness, sorry I can't help half good alliteration.

But yes, I spent most of Monday morning mulching my way through my Autumn prunings.

I'm about half way through so it looks like I have another Monday mulching madness to go through and another chance at a half good alliteration.

PS. For anyone waiting I promise to have my garlic post up on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ode to the Hibiscus Bush

I know I said I'd be posting about Softneck and Hardneck Garlic in my next post, but I came across this Hibiscus just down the road from me yesterday and felt inspired to share it with you all.

It's such a cheerful flower I hope you all enjoy it.

We can just get away with growing Hibiscus here in Toowoomba, but they do need a protected spot in the garden to do well.

I'm going to try and propagate some cuttings for
my own garden, so wish me luck.

And here's what my Sister from Wild Honey Photography can do with a photo.
She's so clever.

Edited on Sat 21st of March at 11.45 AM; Deb did want me to mention this was done pretty much on the fly and is not an example of her best work.

Ode to the Hibiscus Bush

The tranquility of valley hills,
Allows the mind to wander like the clouds,
Above the tree tops with their many thrills,
As nervous leaves rustle in mystic shrouds.
They shadow time each passing day anew,
And patiently wait for the rising sun,
To fill their chlorophyll sacs to the brim;
They thirst for summer rains and morning dew,
To spark their blooms before the day is done,
With Hawaiian pride that glows from each limb.

There are gardens ablaze with rainbow hue;
Around mansions tall and at cottage doors,
Bringing hope to the soul with every view,
These gems of nature, everyone adores
The blooms of hibiscus, across the land,
Are apparels of celestial light!
Heavenly bliss wrapped up in each flower;
Displays the glory of God’ master plan;
For we are never alone in His sight,
And each flower that opens shows His power.

It is not uncommon to see, intense
Malvaceae plants, just like rails on display,
As growing walls of glamorous defence!
The privacy of folks sustained each day,
From prying eyes, this veil of green and blooms,
Provokes no scorn but deep admiration;
Hibiscus fences do make good neighbours,
Their funnel shaped flowers craft grand costumes,
And do arouse an investigation,
Into their floral extract and colours.

Their calypso tones, you know very well;
With petals of exaggerated pride,
And self-confidence, does within them dwell;
For their Latin roots are not brushed aside,
So the scentless hibiscus, we respect
Their photosynthesizing in the light,
As growers do hybrid engineering,
So their shades and sizes become perfect,
With petals of culinary delight;
No wonder, folks find them mesmerising.

From Asia, and the Pacific islands,
Hibiscus bush! You have roamed from your home;
To Hawaii, the Caribbean lands,
And Whangaparaoa’s rich coastal loam,
There you blossom truly with little care,
To flaunt your deep green leaves, and lavish hues,
In sub-tropical breeze and torrid peeves;
Single or double petals, as you choose
From your many species, you wear with flair;
The ant cuddles up to your feet, and leaves.

Humming birds with branching turns, pirouette,
To catch pollen dust, from your golden-wand;
More alluring, and bright than a rosette,
And your therapeutic worth is so fond.
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about your bush,
Of heart disease, cholesterol and tea,
And how hibiscus takes fat from the tush
In China lands, and in the West Indies!
What glint of truth, is in any of these
Herbal cook ups, served from a potpourri?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Green Harvest time

I'm lovin' these guys.

I placed my order with Green Harvest on Tuesday evening, received e-mail confirmation on Wednesday evening saying my parcel had been posted.

Parcel arrived at my front door lunch time Thursday.

How good is that?

Whoo woo, empty box full of potential!!!

First out of the box is two packets of seed.

#1 is Spinach 'Bloomsdale', an English spinach for cool weather.
It prefers a rich well drained soil with added compost, so I better get cracking with the soil prep.
#2 Is Beetroot 'Detroit', not much to say, just a good beetroot variety.
Beetroot is a heavy feeder so I'll be adding plenty of compost and Rooster Booster before I plant a Autnmn crop.

Next is the Garlic. Allium sativum

'Italian White', is a softneck garlic which does not produce a flower stem (more on softneck and hardneck in next post).

More 'Italian White', six bulbs all together leading to approx 48 cloves to plant.

Then the Shallots. Allium cepa var. aggregatum syn. Allium ascalonicum
Synonyms include Golden of French Shallots, Eschallot, Potato Onion.

I've never grown these before so I'll be keeping a curious eye on them as they progress.

According to Green Harvest the bulbs are a culinary onion with a superb mild flavour. They can be eaten raw, boiled, baked, or fried. Golden shallots are long keeping and will store for up to 12 months.

Last but not least, more Garlic.

'Monaro Purple' is a hardneck or top setting variety which usually produces a flower stem in early summer.
It is suitable only for cooler areas (I hoping I'm cool enough here, fingers crossed, time will tell. I know I get bloody cold).

So there you go three thumbs up for Green Harvest.

PS. At the time of writing this I could not connect to the green harvest web site, I'm assuming they are having server trouble.
So if the link does not work, please come back and try again at a later date.

7 from 8 last week

Sorry in advance, but round these parts there is only one kind of footy and that's Rugby League.
Just for the fun of it I thought I'd post my picks for the week and see how I go.
Your welcome to join in through comments or bag the crap out of me for supporting NRL, as long as it's all in good fun.

March 20-23

Broncos v Storm.......................Broncos
Cowboys v Wests Tigers.................West Tigers
Dragons v Titans..............................Dragons
Panthers v Bulldogs.........................Bulldogs
Rabbitohs v Eels..............................Rabbits
Raiders v Roosters...........................Roosters
Sea Eagles v Warriors.....................Sea Eagles
Sharks v Knights..............................Sharks

I'm currently ranked 135 out of 2211 tippers on the ABC Grandstand AFL & NRL Footy Tipping http://tipping.abc.net.au

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What is Dolomite

What is Dolomite and clubroot?

Peggy from Organic Growing Pains left me a comment on my last post asking about Dolomite and it's relation to Club root in Brassicas.

So I thought I'd make a post about it and do the best I can to answer.

I might try point form and see how that works.

  • Dolomite is not a fertilizer.
  • Dolomite is a form of lime
  • Dolomite is Calcium magnesium carbonate.
  • It raises pH and supplies calcium and magnesium
  • Dolomite is a soil unlocker and will even help improve clay soils.
  • Use Dolomite only if you have acid and you need to sweeten it.
  • It is slow acting and won't react with any old manures or organic matter.
  • Clubroot affects Brassicas, including radish, seakale, swede and turnip.
  • Clubroot is a fungal disease
  • Clubroot is a soil borne slime mould, Plasmodiophora brassicae
  • Clubroot is usually introduced to the garden in soil that adheres to boots, tools, and wheelbarrows, in garden compost or manure, and directly on infected plants.
  • It is most common in soil that is acid and waterlogged.
Clubroot Symptoms
  • Swollen roots and a distorted root system not to be confused with symptons of root knot nematode attack, which are smaller lumps more evenly distributed along the roots
  • Plants affected grow very slowly and wilt quickly on hot days.
  • They may eventually collapse altogether
Controlling Clubroot
  • Improve drainage and add lime/dolomite at recommended rates.
  • Raise your own plants or use resistant plant varieties.
  • Maintain good weed control as some weeds can carry clubroot
  • Practice good crop rotation.

Hope that helps Peggy.

This is by no means a definitive work, if anyone has anything to add then please leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The life and times of Cauliflower, 'Violet Sicilian' and Broccoli, 'Romanesco'. Last Friday

Click mouse over photo for larger photo and better detail.

Last Friday I did a little prep work for planting my Broccoli, 'Romanesco' and Cauliflower, 'Violet Sicilian'.

Being not entirely happy with their progress in the potting mix I decided it was bath time for these little baby's.
Just a half strength fish and seeweed mixture and a soak for and hour or two.

Talk about spoilt, I usually only give a half a bucket of compost, but these guys will get a whole bucket each.

Never heard of a plant that died from too much compost. Just ask the runaway pumpkin growing out of the compost pile.

Rooster Booster praise. Even the bag is bio degradable.
BFA Registered Product

A half a hand full per sq mtr should do it.

Just need some dolomite to help curb club root.

A half a hand full again.

Ready to turn in.

All turned in watered and ready for planting.

How do think they will go?

Monday, March 16, 2009

This little piggy went to market

This little piggy is on his way to South Australia, but if I send him air mail, does that mean pigs can fly?

New feed in tarriff petition update

New Feed in Tariff Petition Update

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three thumb's up Italian Tomato

Oh dear, what have I done?

After years of professional jealousy I've finally let curiosity get the better of me and decided to try Burke's Backyard Italian Tomato (voted best home grown tomato).

And damn it, it's a pretty good Tomato.
Easy to grow with reasonable vigor and disease resistance. I'm not sure of potential yield per bush as I didn't give it the best of growing conditions, but even where I have planted it I look like getting at least 10 to 15 medium Tomatoes from the one bush.

From Burke's Backyard fact sheet.

Burke's Backyard Italian Tomato

A form of the popular Rouge de Marmande, the Burke's Backyard Italian Tomato is a large fruited, ribbed variety which is delicious eaten fresh in salads or on sandwiches.

It is an early fruiting tomato variety that will grow well in cool or warm districts. Being a tall grower (called indeterminate) it needs to be staked when grown in the garden.

It does have a very classic 'tomatoey', taste and is easy to slice without being over juicy making it tops for sandwiches and I suspect salads.

As for other uses like sauces and jams I'll let you know next year when I try a few more of these beauties.

Easily passed the corned beef and tomato
sandwich test.

Highly recommended.
Cheers and happy veggie gardening

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