The plan was to take advantage of a dry Saturday morning forecast to spend some quality time with Sue, but I awoke to the pitter patter of raindrops on the window, so you'll just have to wait a while longer to see of our living willow chair.
Instead, I've been sorting through the garlic bulbs and shallot sets.
Some people like to get them in the ground even earlier than this, but I am very happy with the results I've had with my dates. In fact, with the ridiculously warm and wet winters we're increasingly experiencing, I no longer have a clue when I should be planting them!
But this year the ground in later December was too sodden even to ruffle up the surface enough for a few garlic cloves and shallot sets. No worry, I thought, it can wait till New Year's Day. Little did I bargain for the deluge which early January has brought us. We're lucky in that we are at minimal risk of flooding (even though we live in the low-lying Fens, a robust system of drains and dykes is well-maintained and designed over many years to manage water levels). But our heavy soil is absolutely waterlogged at the moment and any fresh rainfall simply has nowhere to go but to sit on the surface and seep slowly, very slowly into the ground. Ever larger and more permanent puddles are appearing.
The result was not too bad. All I need now is next week's forecast of frosty weather and, if the ground is frozen early in the morning I can get the rotavator onto it, at least until the winter sun warms it up to cloggy again. If temperatures stay below zero through the day, I can rotavate until my hands get too cold to continue.
Meanwhile, the garlic hung up in the kitchen is just starting to sprout, so it's time to either puree it ready for the freezer or dehydrate it. One braid has gone off with a friend to be smoked.
I've just been searching for the post with the photo of that Indian supermarket and drawn a blank, but I did find this corresponding post from 2014. 2014 garlic planting
The date was a few days earlier and the soil was a bit more crumbly, but I love the way these things come round year on year. That was the first year I planted these cloves purchased from Pretty Fruiterers, that little grocers in North London. I also planted some cloves saved from specially purchased garlic - I think it was Garlic Marco. But for the second time that failed to produce well.
Funny how the expensive garlic purchased specially for growing and costing about £2 per bulb doesn't seem to save from year to year isn't it!
I think I purchased a whole bag full of my garlic for that much. It grows better, gives much plumper cloves, is whiter and more disease resistant.
all the horticultural suppliers and references say that if you just use purchased supermarket garlic it won't be disease resistant and you are laying yourself open to importing nasty things like white rot, which stays in the soil for an awfully long time and stops you growing any of the onion family in that piece of soil. So if you decide to try what I've done, on your head be it! Maybe try them in a very small piece of soil which you could easily avoid growing onions on in the future if need be... and keep a close eye on them for disease.