HARVESTING TO MAKE SPACE TO SOW GARLIC AND BEANS – FOURTH WEEK IN SEPTEMBER 2011

Sunflowers before they wilted and made way for the broad bean sowing.
The harvest of beetroot from a 1 by 2m patch

The beetroot crop which shares a plot with the remains of the spinach and chard, is ready to be harvested. Once that space is vacated, the organic Vallelado garlic ordered by post from Manfred at Fruit Hill Farm in Bantry, Co. Cork, can be sown. www.fruithillfarm.com is one of the few places I can reliably buy supplies of organically certified garlic, onion sets, shallots etc at this time of the year.

Having carefully dug up the beetroot, leaves and all, with a garden fork, I rubbed off the loose soil and laid them in a cardboard box, ready for the kitchen. If my garden and harvest were bigger, I would have had a wooden box and a bag of damp sand ready, with a view to storing the beetroots until they were needed for the kitchen.

While thinking would I bottle, bake, boil, grate or store these beets, my eye turned to the lush leaves which resemble chard. I twisted the leaves off (twisting is better than cutting to avoid the beets ‘bleeding’), washed and steamed them for the dinner. Well, the taste was rough compared to chard. While edible, I won’t bother cooking the leaves again.

Next I roasted a few beets in tinfoil in the oven for an hour or so, very tasty. Next day I boiled the rest to compare flavours. The boiled beets tasted excellent also when hot and also cold the next day in a salad mixed with apple, walnuts and mayonnaise.

Instead of bottling this year, I will freeze the remaining cooked beetroots. Now I can make more of those delicious beetroot dishes through the coming winter once I defrost a portion of my harvest.

GARLIC: The patch left vacant after the beetroot is quite fertile from previous composting. Before planting the garlic cloves, however, I forked a sprinkling of old wood ash in to the top few centimetres of soil as alliums are partial to a bit of potash, which wood ash contains. Turf or coal ash are not recommended as a soil supplement.

Once the garlic bulbs (certified disease free, unlike the grocery bought garlic) are separated in to cloves, I take them out to the plot along with a dibber and trowel. They are spaced out a span of my hand apart (20 – 25cm). Then each one goes underground about 2cm where it will grow to maturity in late Summer of next year.

I had planted last year’s garlic with a 10 – 15cm spacing. However Klaus Laitenberger in his book ‘Vegetables for the Irish Garden’ says wider spacing gives bigger bulbs, so time will tell.

BROAD BEANS: While the recent harvest of garlic cloves are happily drying away in a griddle in the greenhouse before I hang them up for storage, the old garlic plot is now to be forked over and made ready for the broad bean seeds to be sown. The soil is quite fertile. Teagasc tell me it is TOO fertile, so no additional compost needed I guess.

The wilted sunflowers can now be removed to make more space for the bean seeds. Last year I planted the broad beans in a circle, just like the runner beans and peas which cling to wigwam structures. However this year I hope to get a better broad bean crop by sowing 25 seeds in a 5 by 5 pattern covering the quarter of the plot allocated to the broad beans. These beans, variety Supersimonia, are strong enough to stand upright except in a very strong wind. The support I will construct therefore will be like a mini boxing ring, so when a gust gets up, they can hang loose on the ropes and grow on, bowed but unbroken, when the wind subsides.

The spacing for the broad beans is similar to the garlic, a span apart and 2cm underground. In this mild Autumn weather, I expect the new broad bean and garlic plants to appear above the soil surface in a week or two.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. A saoi gan locth
    Do you freeze the cooked beets in any liquid?
    Cuasnóg

    Reply

    • A Chaitríona, a Chara,

      I cook the beetroot, skin them, chop in half so they fit in shallow containers I use. They are then put in freezer. They thaw fine and can be warmed up then or eaten cold.

      Beir beannacht.

      Trevor

      Reply

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