January in the Vegie Patch

parasitic wasp on calendulaThe summer vegie patch is a feast for the senses – bold colours, fragrance and lots of produce. Hang out and watch all the beneficial insects working your flowers and your pests – nature is awesome.

I hope your garlic is up. Don’t let the leaves dry off as a lot of books and mags recommend. If the tops dry completely this will shorten your garlic’s storage life. Each leaf is a layer of skin around the bulb – a protective wrapper. You want at least 3 undamaged wrappers around the bulb for good storage. Allow for at least two to get rubbed off/ damaged through the cleaning process. So if you have at least 5 green leaves when you harvest you should be sweet.

I hang mine in bunches of 6 or 7 under the deck. You need good airflow, no direct sun and a nice dry spot for curing it. Once the outer wrappers are nice and dry (2 – 4 weeks) give it a gentle clean, trim the tops leaving about 1cm of stalk, trim the roots and store in a dry dark spot. Netting bags are fab, you can hang them up out of the way.

I’ll be selling my garlic at the Summer Gathering, so if you didn’t get a crop in this year then beautiful organic garlic can still be yours!

As soon as you empty the garlic bed sow a greencrop to restore the soil. Garlic has been occupying that space for 6 months and the soil will be a bit tired now. An empty bed quickly looses it’s mojo – especially in this heat. Summer greencrops to choose from are buckwheat, phacelia, lupins, alfalafa or mustard. Greencrops are fab. They are cheap, quick, and do an incredible job of revitalising, restoring and balancing soil.

strings of onionsAren’t the onions beautiful – cured, strung and hanging in the pantry. I love growing onions. Even though they are in the ground for a while you get alot of crop in a small space. They take a bit of mastering to get right so don’t give up. Keep learning how, and then when you get it right you’ll feel so proud!

 

 

Tasks for January

It’s time to:

  • Plant out your last lot of dwarf beans, cucumber and zuchinni (for autumn eating).
  • Sow summer salads (take care to choose heat lovers like tree lettuce, merveille de quarter saison, drunken woman or oak leaf) ; sow carrots for late summer/ autumn eating (if you are prone to carrot fly sow under a cloche with netting over it); beetroot (don’t let it dry out now, or you’ll pay with woody roots); celery for autumn/ winter; radish; and summer greencrops in any gaps made by harvesting.
  • Sow brassicas for the autumn, especially ones that take ages to get to the point like Brussels Sprouts and Cauli’s. Yes, it’s always strange that as your summer vege are just beginning to fruit you need to start sowing your winter supplies.
  • Start preparing your beds now as spring crops finish (no rest for the wicked).
  • Be a good mum and keep up the watering and liquid feeding.