Mark planted his 15 metre double row of garlic this week (167 cloves, to be precise). Having heard that the average American consumes 6kg of garlic a year, while the average Italian eats 20kg, he feels he may have underestimated the yield we should require. At an average of 15 bulbs to a kilo, with each clove delivering one bulb, planted in a double row at 30 cm between the rows and 15cm between each clove, if you have not yet planted your garlic, you should be able to calculate how much area you need so that you can hurry up and get it in.
While the weather is fine and the ground dry enough to work, beds can be prepared now for spring plantings of vegetables. The better the ground preparation, the better the yield will be. Vegetable gardens in particular need to be very friable and well tilled. If you get in now, when the frenzied activity of spring arrives, your beds are all ready for planting.
Buy seed potatoes and set them in trays on their ends (chitting). Put them in a dark place to shoot for early planting in August (which is only six weeks away now).
This is the first year we have grown chicory (witloof) and apparently now is the time to start forcing them by lifting them, trimming off the leaves and either blanching them in a box in dark shed or by burying them in a trench at least 20cm deep. From there it takes about a month for the fresh leaves to shoot again. Blanching them takes away the bitterness. We will report in due course as to whether the final product is worth the effort.
It is still time for digging and dividing in the ornamental garden.
Pruning of hydrangeas can start in mild areas. Prune back to two fat buds if you want flowers next year. While they will generally come again if you cut them to the ground, you won’t get flowers because they set buds on the previous year’s new growth.
Give deciduous fruit trees a copper and oil spray to clean them up and carry out winter pruning.
Mark is worried about fire fang, which is apparently something that can happen to your compost. Or so his heritage vegetable gardening book cautions. The only problem is that the book fails to specify exactly what fire fang is and we don’t think it is spontaneous combustion.