Soren and I did a little video in our street the other day to celebrate International composting week. We counted out the stickers that I’ve put on peoples letter boxes, showing the households that are composting, worm farming and so on. I’ve realised there are a few that are composting and haven’t got stickers, so I’ll need to get the stickers out and do some door knocking!
Getting people to be as excited as I am about composting is pretty hard. It’s not really one of the things we’re inclined to share with our friends, (or if we do they’d probably rather we didn’t!) I’m hoping that by putting stickers on our letter boxes, making something we’re doing in our back gardens visible from the street, we can all feel like we’re doing something to make a difference.
In this blog, I’ll be writing posts about gardens that are fertilised with home grown compost, including my own. Why? Because I think it’s a bit hypocritical to be making statements and writing about about better ways to do things if you’re not walking the talk yourself.
What better way to start than in the garden, and with one of my favourite plants, garlic? For a start, I love eating garlic, and use it all the time in my cooking. I also love the idea of planting a crop on the shortest day of the year and harvesting it on the longest. It feels like I’m part of something that is centuries old. We have a little ritual every year when we plant and harvest our garlic. It’s a chance to stop and really appreciate the amazing seasonal process unfolding in front of us.
I also really enjoy the moment when the first little garlic shoots come up and signal that spring is truly on its way. I always feel thrilled when I see the first one poke up out of the soil.
Garlic is a gross feeding plant, in other words it needs a lot of nutrients. Like almost all plants, to get a good harvest, you need great soil. Nothing is more satisfying than harvesting a big bulb of garlic that you grew yourself. Because you grew it yourself, it absolutely tastes better too!
Nothing will help your garlic grow faster larger and stronger than high quality compost. When I prepare the garden beds for garlic planting, I dig in a lot of compost, and over the growing season I will sprinkle compost around the roots to help keep them fed. I also water my garlic with liquid from my hungry bin worm farm. Generally when I fertilise plants with worm liquid I don’t dilute it at all. I just put the liquid right on the soil. If the soil is a little dry, I’ll dilute the worm juice 10 or 20 – 1 to help it go further.
Garlic also needs moist soil when it’s growing, so I try to remember to keep it watered, especially if it’s dry during the spring when the bulbs are sizing up. We often invite friends and neighbours to help us harvest. All part of the ritual – and it comes at just the right time of year. The longest day – or summer solstice – falls just before Xmas. It’s definitely a time to celebrate and get together with your friends.