Garlic harvest and plant protection

Tiffany Daneff / 28 July 2016

Time is getting on in the Sheep Garden and there are last-minute nerine bulbs to track down, garlic to harvest and salad leaves to protect from hungry caterpillars.

This year I actually made a calendar note to myself to order some nerines. I think I put it on the mobile and then when it flashed up on the phone screen I thought, “Yes. Must order bulbs.” And then immediately followed that thought with, “No. still a bit early. I’ll do it soon.” And of course I didn’t which is why today I have been searching online for somewhere, anywhere that can deliver some bulbs. 

This was prompted by a piece in the RHS magazine, The Garden, which tells me that July is not too late to plant. But everywhere has sold out. So it is. Which is a big shame.

I love nerines. They are one of those extraordinary looking plants, like passion flowers and cleome, that look far too glamorous to be happy in the grey damps of Middle England. And yet they are. Not just accepting - they seem to thrive in all the most unsuitable spots. Those wispy curlicues of the palest pink pop up in suburban carports and dessicated municipal bedding bringing a fire popping excitement when the only other colour outdoors comes from dying foliage.

It is cold here so Val Bourne suggests planting them against a south facing wall where they will catch the best of the sun. They would do happily in pots too but that’s not what I want.

Anyway, the point is I have left it too late again. I have kicked myself. Literally.

Last weekend I pulled up the garlic. It’s a great crop. (see picture) I had planted Suttons’ Messidrome (large white) and Germidour, which have lovely striped purple skins. Or at least I thought I had but when they came up they all look striped to me with some being smaller than others. 

This time I actually labelled them, so heaven knows why. But who cares? They are sweet and delicious and I have loads. The only fail is that they were perfect to pick while we were away on holiday and so have started to split. Garlic continues to be one of my most favourite to grow veg.

Find out how to grow garlic

Hubris struck on cue. In that uncanny way life has not a moment after I had written the last blog and posted up a picture of, if I say so myself, the most impressive row of mizuna, the first cabbage white butterflies appeared in the garden. 

Within 72 hours the kale and mizuna were being decorated with parallelograms of pin head orange eggs laid in perfect lines. There was not a moment to lose. I rushed to the shed, yanked out the butterfly netting and strung it over some short hazel poles stuck hurriedly into the soil. It’s not perfect: the netting is dragging over the gravel like a Goth bride’s train and none of it is pinned down. But it’s doing the job. For now.

Next week: Squirrel trouble

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