Two very exciting things have happened in the garden this week.
First, I pulled my garlic. I don’t think I’m supposed to yet, if you go by the ‘shortest day/longest day’ rule of planting and pulling, but when I saw Jane’s lovely harvest, I was stirred to action. I’d already been investigating: rubbing the dirt from around the bulbs every now and then, to peek at their progress. But with the stalks drying and in some cases rotting off, I decided it was time to harvest.
And — wow! Best garlic harvest ever, easily. Big fat healthy heads, smelling fresh and garlicky and wonderful. I’d pulled the ones I grew in a polystyrene box (as an experiment — container vs ground) a couple of weeks ago; they were only as big as a large marble and none segmented into cloves. However they smell and taste pungent, delicious.
So I’m hanging these undercover for a few days to dry out a little, but then I’ll separate the cloves and freeze them, as I saw Tino suggest on a recent Gardening Australia. Our summers can be haphazard, and I’m always worried they’ll either rot or start shooting. With this abundance, I don’t want to risk it.
The other great thing to happen this week was I took delivery of a car-boot full of pansy plants. Don’t they look so happy?
I work practically next door to my local council’s offices, so most lunchtimes I walk or ride my bike past their beautiful flower beds. I’ve emailed council before to say how much I enjoy seeing these pretty displays (I’ve also emailed them when the plovers are nesting in the little park near home, to please not mow the birds and eggs over, but that’s another story).
This time I said, rather cheekily, I’d love some of the pansies when they’re dug out for the next display. Does your council change its flower beds regularly, and seemingly when the colours and plants are at their best? It seems a shame for them to be discarded, so maybe I could re-house them.
To my delight, Council was happy for me to take some plants, and we spoke about probable dates; I made sure I had a big box and plastic sheets in the car. So when they called — we’re digging today, come over in a couple of hours! — I was ready.
The three gardeners were so friendly and helpful, digging and carrying the plants over to my car (I was in my office clothes, not gardening gear). Eight all up; it’s all I could fit. We looked for small plants that would transplant best, and they noticed my preference for purple and white faces, so I picked out a rusty red one too. As much as getting free plants, it was lovely to meet the gardeners who make these colourful displays happen; we talked about watering systems and weeds and mulches.
That evening, I planted the pansies into my garden beds (which are not as rich and moist as council’s). The gardeners advised cutting off the flowers, to help them settle in, and while I know that is best, I couldn’t bear to. They had so much colour still! So if they last only a couple of weeks before they get straggly and poorly, hopefully their roots will settle in and I’ll be give them a big chop — and they’ll come back next season. Many of the plants had fat promising seed heads on them, too, so maybe I’ll get new plants from those.
So thank you council, you’ve made me very happy. And the gardeners said that going in next were zinnias, and I love zinnias … so I’ll be in touch.