Growing Pains

garlic in pots

It’s proving unexpectedly hard work, being a proper grown up blogger reviewing stuff. For a start, I’m having to actually attempt to grow garlic properly, or at least google it to see how the rest of the internet does it instead of just making it up as I go along. It turns out that growing garlic is more complicated than I thought because it needs prolonged vernalisation* for the bulbs to form properly. So there are roughly three schools of thought about growing garlic in Scotland. The first is that it’s no different from planting it in England and you should do so in October or November ‘when there’s still a bit of warmth in the soil’ so the cloves don’t rot in ground that’s too wet or too cold.** The second is that you can wait until January because prolonged periods of cold weather are easier to come by in Scotland than England, although how that is supposed to help with finding soil that is neither waterlogged nor frozen remains a mystery. The third is hahahahaha, seriously you’re trying to grow garlic in Scotland, are you insane, there’s a reason why traditional Scottish cuisine consists of potatoes and kale …

Now normally when the internet is divided in this way I just pick the way that suits me best and go with that, which would mean planning to plant it in January and then forgetting all about it.*** But I feel I have a responsibility to do a bit better for this garlic in order for my review to consist of something a bit more cogent than ‘if you’re looking for foolproof garlic, this wasn’t it, at least for this value of fool’. So I have decided to hedge my bets and split my garlic three ways. Taking advantage of a mildish day, one lot has been planted outside, on raised ridges to avoid waterlogging. One lot will wait until January, provided I remember where I have stored it. And one lot has been planted in pots in the greenhouse until established and will then be transferred outside for the rest of the winter.

Watch this space for more thrilling updates on the garlic progress – unless the lovely people at Marshalls realise they’ve made a terrible mistake entrusting it to me and stage a rescue mission for it in the dead of night.

* which obviously you all know means being exposed to a prolonged period of cold weather. And obviously I did too, being such an advanced gardener who would never forget all about her garlic and then end up planting it in April. Ahem. Although prolonged periods of cold weather can happen then too…

** erm. Have these people been in Scotland in November?

*** Twitter was busy urging me to just roast the lot and have it for supper


5 Responses to Growing Pains

  1. cha0tic says:

    I can’t remember where I heard it. But I heard you should plant your Garlic on New Years day and then curse it. I’m not sure if you want to add this to your experiment.

    As you’re growing Garlic you’ll be able to try Garlic ‘Scapes’. I’ve only just become aware of it, but it seems to be a fashionable vegetable at the moment.

  2. Ulli says:

    The ‘plant in late autumn or early winter’ method seems to work fine in northern climes, at least in Edinburgh, on free-draining soil…
    We’ve been growing about half of the garlic we eat every year for the last few years, just using a clove or two max. per meal rather than roasting whole bulbs at a time.
    This year’s lot turned out a bit smaller than previously, maybe due to the cold spring slowing it down, or perhaps I need to give it a little fertiliser in the spring..

    I haven’t tried any of the other methods, looking forward to learning from your scientific experiment, how may replicates? 😉

  3. disgruntled says:

    @Cha0tic – ha! We get back from the US on New Year’s Eve, so if I’m up at all the next day I will likely feel like cursing everything. Might give that a go
    @Ulli – a bit difficult to do a proper double-blinded trial but I shall report back…

  4. […] January, people, January. How am I ever going to get my garlic to vernalise if this goes on? *It only occurs to me now that this might be part of desperate measures on the […]

  5. […] for I know you have been left on the edge of your seats, wondering what has happened to my garlic. Previously on Town Mouse your heroine had planted out her review garlic in the teeth of weather warnings and the warmest […]

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