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My 2023 Garlic Harvest

Hello friends,

According to one of last year's blog posts, I sowed my garlic bulbs for this season on Friday the 2nd of June 2023. Apparently, at that time I planted 60 Printanor bulbs, and in my naive state back then, claimed that we hadn't had any problem with garlic rust in all the years since we returned to Dunedin, so I wasn't worried about it happening at all.

Well it turns out I was really wrong about this. Normally, the humidity in Dunedin in spring usually isn't too bad, but unfortunately in mid-December 2023 the tell tale signs of garlic rust began appearing on my garlic plants after a period of rainy, humid days. I was devastated to say the least, but it was only a few weeks until the garlic harvest, so I prayed for lots of dry and sunny weather, and hoped my garlic plants had already formed decent bulbs while I waited impatiently for harvest day.

A couple of days after Christmas, my garlic plants were ready to harvest. It was a gray, drizzly day, but hubby and I got to work, and began lifting all the garlic bulbs. It wasn't the biggest garlic bulb haul in the world, but it was good enough for us. I had been hoping for lots of large bulbs, so I could swap some of our harvest for other things like apples and pears etc in autumn, but due to their smallish size, we ended up only with enough to last us for the year.

After a quick spray with water to clean off all the dirt, we made the decision to harvest the garlic then and there. Garlic plants with rust don't tend to keep very long while stored dry and whole, so we harvested the garlic bulbs and froze the cloves in our chest freezer. When we cook with garlic we just use the cloves, or we dehydrate the garlic to get flakes and powder.

The thing about growing underground vegetable crops is that you're not entirely sure what the harvest will be like until you dig them up. It's really just a case of making do with what you get, and then planning accordingly. If gardening life was predictable all the time, it would probably be boring...but I still would've loved to have a bigger harvest. So instead, I'll just have to buy autumnal fruit the normal way, at the supermarket.

Have a wonderful day


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Planting Garlic and Saffron Bulbs

Hello friends,

It's now early June, but I'm still in the middle of bulb planting season thanks to being so ill earlier this autumn. But I'm trying to catch up now, and I'm taking a targeted approach to this task.

Basically I'm weeding an area I need to put in bulbs in, and then planting the bulbs. It's leading to the garden looking very patchy, with wild unweeded areas, surrounded by neat and tidy weeded sections with pretty, clearly labelled markers. I like to label all my bulbs when I first put them in so over winter I can avoid them while doing any major work in the garden. I'm hoping once all my bulbs are planted I can then go back and weed the areas that aren't quite so urgent.

My first job with bulb planting was to get my saffron bulbs in the ground. When I got the email from Bulbs Direct to say they were in stock, I was very excited, as I wanted some for years, but have always missed out. They arrived promptly, and I planted them the same day they arrived on my doorstep, I weeded an area of the herb garden and planted all 5 bulbs. My reason for sowing them in the herb garden, is that I already have other crocus in other areas of the garden, and didn't want to get them mixed up with the other bulbs.

And I have exciting news already, three saffron bulbs have already popped out of the ground. It's only been two weeks since I planted them, so I'm happy to see their needle like leaves.

Garlic bulbs were next to go in the ground. Even though most it's common to plant garlic bulbs on the Winter Solstice in New Zealand, I always like to get them in the ground in May. Down here in Dunedin, by the time we get to the Winter Solstice, the ground is very cold and wet, and it's hard to dig the holes to plant the garlic. So I like to get it done in mid-May while the ground is still warmish, and it gives the bulbs a chance to grow their roots while the temperatures are not freezing.

This year the only variety of garlic I could get hold of was New Zealand Printanor. It grows well for us, and we haven't had any garlic rust as yet. We don't tend to get garlic rust down here in Dunedin, as weather conditions in spring tend to be cool with low humidity.

After I gridded the garden bed and making holes with my handy bulb planter, it didn't take long to pop in all the garlic cloves.

This year I planted 60 cloves, and gave the rest of my garlic bulbs in the packet to my father to plant at his house. My plan is to store enough for us to use for the year, and  the rest will be set aside for both ensuring seed garlic bulbs for the year after, sharing with family, and then any left over can be swapped in our local produce group for fruit and veges that I don't grow.

There's something about sowing bulbs in autumn and winter, it makes me hopeful that the cold weather will be over eventually, and that we'll have homegrown food in the spring and summer months.

Have a wonderful day


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Planting Miniature Irises for Spring

Hello friends,

I can't resist a good plant catalogue, well any plant catalogue really. If one shows up in my mailbox with the plants all decked out in bright and colourful flowers, how can I resist buying bulbs in autumn for the coming spring?

Well I can't of course, and especially when they're tempting me with miniature plants. As you will see in spring, for some time I have been adding to my crocus and Tete a Tete daffodil collections. The tinier the plants the better, in my opinion.

Well this time the Garden Post plant catalogue offered me miniature irises. Teeny tiny irises that would be only 15 cm tall at most, and would be one of the first bulbs to flower in spring. Before I knew what I was doing, four different varieties were in my online shopping cart, and it wasn't too long before 28 bulbs arrived by courier. I ordered miniature irises in shades of blue and purple (Alida, Blue Note, J.S. Dijt, and Painted Lady).

The next weekend I weeded an area of the back garden, near a very small plastic pond with a waterfall that is solar powered. I pulled out my trusty bulb planter I bought a couple of years ago, and got to work.

My bulb planter

I use my bulb planter for not only flower bulbs, but garlic bulbs also. The planter has a handy measurer on the side, so you know how deep to dig the soil depending on what bulb type you are planting. When you pull the plug of soil out of the ground with the planter, you just pop your bulb of choice into the hole, and then by squeezing the handle, it will release the soil back into the ground. If you are planting large amounts of bulbs, the planter will not only save you time, but also wear and tear on your joints too.

It wasn't long until all my new precious bulbs were in the ground. And now I wait, through all of autumn, and then winter, and hopefully fingers crossed, as we move into spring, my new miniature irises will appear. I can't wait to photograph them in all their glory.

Autumn has been such a busy time of year with many harvests and processing of produce happening at the moment. But not only that, I've recently had sinus surgery, followed, by a small complication, and now a sinus infection. I'm hoping to continue recovering from both the surgery, and the infection very soon, so I can get back out into the garden. The weeds are taking over, even though the weather is cooling considerably.

Have a wonderful day.Julie-Ann

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