Growing Garlic At Home

 

There is no requirement at being a seasoned gardener or farmer to grow your very own garlic at home. It’s also very achievable and easy to harvest your own good quality garlic with a little patience due to its long growing time and by just following a few steps and keeping track of the seasons.

Soil Preparation

Garlic is luckily easily grown in almost types of soil with a preferred pH of 6-7, but to grow larger sized garlic bulbs it’s recommended that your soil is fertile and high in organic matter which can also be mixed in to the top layer of soil where you will be planting, also make sure you soil has good drainage or you will end up with rotted garlic.

Getting you Cloves

Sourcing your garlic is at the utmost importance as you don’t want failed garlic after nine months of looking after them, hence why you will need to be patient with garlic. Avoid using garlic heads bought from the supermarket unless you can source certified organic bulbs or some from your local organic farmers market. 

Once you have sourced heads your happy with, then start to break up your garlic head into cloves, as the cloves are what your will be planting. If everything goes well, every planted garlic clove will produce a lovely garlic head, fantastic!

Planting Garlic

Planting garlic is typically done in the autumn after the first frost sets in, so now is the perfect time to start preparing and selecting those garlic heads for planting in the next few weeks.

Just before planting and after you have separated your cloves soak the cloves in water for 10-12 hours, this makes sure you give your cloves the best start, try to also plan out planting area with a clove spaced every 10cm-15cm. 

Ensure you plant the cloves standing upright, so the tip facing upwards, this is where the sprout will shoot. Bury each clove about 6cm-10cm deep and give them a good soaking with a fish emulsion, seaweed fertiliser or homemade worm tea. In colder climates mulching is critical to keep the garlic from freezing and it’s also a great idea to keep those weeds at bay.

On Going Care

The cloves should sprout within a month from planting and the wait begins. Keep the newly planted cloves well hydrated in the warmer autumn months, watering every few days; expect for days with rain. Soils that are sandy may have to be watered more regularly to compensate for the faster water loss.

Feed the garlic with liquid seaweed fertiliser every month, and in midwinter, as the bulbs begin to form, apply a fertiliser high in phosphorous to help them swell and grow into lovely large bulbs.

Harvesting

Garlic is typically harvested in summer, but that can certainly change depending on where you are at in the country and warmer spring conditions. Reduce regular water into allow the bulbs to mature in the ground, checking their progress by digging with your fingers along the stem. The key indicator to know when the garlic is ready to harvest is the colour of the leaves, which will turn yellow and tanned when ready.

To harvest, loosen the soil surrounding the garlic without damaging the garlic heads and gently pull on the foliage. You can always select one as a test and determine by looking at it if the head and inspecting for well-developed cloves.

Once harvested hang your garlic in a cool, dry place. This not only helps the garlic keep for many months but you will also have access to new cloves to be planted once again in autumn.

 

Tools For The Urban Gardener

 

In these modern gardening times there is quite literally a device for every gardening function imaginable. With such a range available, it’s no wonder collecting gardening tools can border on addiction. The same could be said for the indoor garden, the only difference is you won’t need to install a tool shed to house all those addictive tools, a small basket should do the job.

There are only a few implements that are actually necessary when working in the urban or indoor garden, often coming down to personal choice or even adapting the odd household item for the task (trust me I’ve been known to have used a serving soon to move potting mix around).

So here are my “go to” or “must” have tools that I would suggest any novice gardener to invest in.

A fork of some kind is essential. The old two-prong kitchen variety is quite suitable but the prongs should be slightly blunted. This is a great tool, used to keep the top soil open, preventing soil compaction, allowing the passage of water and air to the roots.

A small trowel or garden scoop is necessary for filling troughs and other containers and a potting stick or dibble can also be used to make the appropriate size holes when planting all but the largest plants.

The selection of gardening tools should also include either a modern pruning knife or a small sharp secateurs that can be used for pruning and cutting, with the latter being my personal preference to snip off dead or withered leaves.

A finely nozzle spraying can, which can be used to spray the leaves of your plants (reducing cleaning) and also a great way to fertilise or spray pesticide on your indoor plants.

A watering can with a long narrow spout is also the best watering utensil because the flow can be directed beneath the foliage and away from the vulnerable crown of the plant, you can find some efficient watering cans that have a removable rose so you have both watering options. May I also suggest keeping the water at room temperature which can be most easily obtained by keeping a full can in the room.

Many other articles can be added as they are found desirable and could include a sieve for sifting soil for small pots, plant labels, twine, canes and stakes and gardening gloves or lined rubber gloves.

And as previously suggested if a garden tool basket can be obtained to hold all these gardening tools it will make for tidiness and save time. There is nothing more infuriating than having to search for a tool that is required for a certain trivial job at a certain moment.

 

Stop And Smell The Roses

 

Caring for roses takes very little effort once you have the routine down pat, with huge rewards of fragrant blooms through spring and summer and even into autumn.

1.SOIL PREPARATION & PLANTING

The first step to growing great roses at home begins with choosing an area in the garden where they are sure to thrive and selecting a rose to match your garden’s micorclimate and soil. Start by choosing a location to grow your roses even before you buy them, you will be on a better path towards rose growing success. 

Once you have selected your garden location, go about working up the soil. The soil can be built up by mixing in some well rotted compost prior to planting, if you have a pH kit on hand, the ideal pH is 6.5 for roses.

You may want them to climb a wall or a trellis, or fit into a nice rose bed or even be used as ground cover. Keep these points in mind when making your selection. Potted roses are also perfect for small areas, such as an apartment balcony, limited garden area or just for setting on a patio, with the added benefit of bringing your sweet smelling roses closer to the eyes and nose.

2.SUNLIGHT

Sunlight is very important for roses so selecting a spot that gets six hours of sun a day and has good drainage is best. Any-less sun than that and you’ll have fewer flowers, leggier plants, and more disease. Even roses labelled “easy care” need some tending to. 

3.SPACE

Adequate space is imperative. Roses require excellent air circulation to prevent disease and to ensure you have enough room to tend to them. Each rose bush should have space to flourish and spread its roots and branches. If your roses are potted then your roses will thrive for roughly three years and then will need transplanting. Roses in pots tend to deplete the soil of its nutrients more rapidly than if they were in the ground. Often they can outgrow their containers and need a larger home. In this case one can provide the rose with a container one or two sizes up from the previous one.

4.WATER & FERTILIZATION

Roses also need one to two deep waterings a week during warm, dry weather. Drip irrigation is ideal and avoid overhead watering to help prevent disease and to protect blossoms. To keep them blooming, most varieties should be fed every four to six weeks with a with a specialist rose fertiliser or a organic liquid fertiliser to encourage micro-organisms in the soil.

5.PRUNING ROSES

Since most landscape roses are hardy, they don’t require winter protection. In the coldest areas, choose hardy varieties grown on their own root stock. These roses also don’t need intricate pruning. Simply cutting back plants by half to two-thirds in late winter and thinning crowded canes will keep them compact and under control and promote new growth in spring. A good rule of thumb when pruning roses is to leave no wood on the bush that is thinner than a pencil. Then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the colourful summer show.

Note: Roses are highly susceptible to diseases and pets, so spray the foliage with eco oil if necessary on a regular basis or on the first signs of destress. Its also important to deadhead your roses once they bloom to promote further growth and a spectacular array of roses, and if your roses are grown organically then these blooms can always be used to make some sweet tasting rose tea or jam.

Everyone can grow roses, no matter where they live. If you can grow grass, you can grow delightful roses for your own indulgence.

 

Harvest Your Own Rose Tea

The simple ritual of sharing a cup of tea brings people together in a way that restores body mind and spirit. There is something beautiful about tea, the scent, the dried herbs and flowers, and of course the taste. But have you ever attempted to make your own blend.

I wanted to create an invigorating tea using rose petals, after all it’s the start of rose season and we soon will have roses in abundance, so why not enjoy them once they have bloomed.

The important thing to note when making your own tea is to be sure that all your ingredients are safe for consumption. You could dry your own roses if you like. Just be sure they have not been sprayed with any type of insecticide or chemical. If you don’t have insecticide free roses this season, bring on a couple of your most fragrant varieties for next year and use organic protection methods to make them available for culinary use.

Blown blooms (fully mature flowers) that haven’t browned will make the most flavorful tea petals. The most fragrant rose varieties typically make the best tea.

Although you can use any color of rose, you may find that sticking with a single color or color range makes the most visually appealing tea. (It does make a lovely gift.)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

2 cups fresh rose petals

2 vanilla pods

PREPARE YOUR INGREDIENTS:

1. You will first need to dry out your Rose Petals and toast your Vanilla pods. Rose petals dry quickly if you’re using a heat source, so watch them closely to make sure they don’t scorch. They should be “shatter” dry, but not brown. In an oven, they just take 30 min to dry completely (in a single layer).

2. Split your Vanilla pods and then add them on the same tray your drying out your rose petals so that they are also slightly toasted in the oven.

3. Once your Vanilla beans have been toasted and cooled roughly chop them and add them to a small glass container along with your dried rose petals, give them a good shake so they are all mixed in together, and your new tea blend is now ready to be brewed or gifted.

BREWING YOUR TEA

1. Measure the desired amount of your tea blend and place into a teapot or teacup. Use 1 tsp of tea for every 1 cup of water.

2. Add enough hot water at 90°c (just before reaching boiling) to submerse the tea.

3. Let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes for the first and then 4-5 minutes on the second brewing.

Note: Adding sugar or honey is optional. You can make rose-scented sugar to accompany the rose-scented tea.

Garden Motivation

 

Do you have a small urban garden?

Do you want to transform it into a exciting, contempoary space?

As a city dweller I know all to well the premium paid for a property with a garden, so I can access to my very own ‘garden’ or ‘retreat’. And if your like me your have every intention in making sure it always looks great, lush and neat so you can enjoy the space.

Unfortunately those great intensions soon become disillusioned with the notion of it being “to hard”, “it’s to much work” and “i don’t have time”, and just like that your space is neglected.

I see it all the time, balconies and both front and back yards that have been forgotten with the sighn of every intention to start with a few grouped plants still sitting in their nursery plastic container, left to one side. What a waste of space and money and those poor plants…..left just about abandoned.

Any outdoor space is an urban environment, an invaluable place to create an outdoor extension to your home, and creating a lovely garden (edible or not) does not need or required a horticulturalist or a landscape designer, just the occasional plant inspection, monthly feed and depending on your climate the weekly water which can be done with your morning latte in hand.

And you never know you might just have a natural green thumb or it can lease to a new passionate interest that can become so much more and even change the way you eat with home grown edibles at your door step.

 

How To Get the Kids Gardening

 

It won’t be news to you that today’s kids don’t spend enough time outdoors. Despite our frequent encouragement (or should we say please) the lure of phones, iPads and the TV, prove too strong a match for the prospect of fresh air and sunshine.

Throw in our own busy lifestyles and it’s a tough ask to meet the activity levels recommended for health and wellbeing. If you think you’ve used every trick in the book to get your kids off the couch, think again.

Gardening might just be your new best friend.

It turns out a bit of green thumb activity is the perfect fit for the creativity and boundless energy of children. If you don’t know the difference between a spade and a shovel (hint: they’re actually the same thing), these tips will come in handy when convincing your kids to get into the garden.

Motor skills and intellectual stimulation

Most children love being outdoors, creating things, digging in the soil, getting dirty and watching plants grow. By channelling that passion into gardening, your kids will learn new skills and develop self-confidence while they get to play and have fun. And there’s nothing more satisfying than tending to plants and growing food you then get to eat.

There’s no room for boredom

There are so many different skills needed in the garden, from weeding to pruning, planting seedlings to harvesting vegetables. That makes it perfect for restless, energetic little ones. Set up a circuit of different stations in your backyard so your whole army of budding gardeners remain engaged for hours at a time.

Muddy hands and face, oh yeah!

Do your kids love mess as much as you despise it? The garden is one place where it’s recommended to get your hands dirty, which your little ones are sure to love.

Gardening lets them get as filthy as they like, meaning they’ll get all that wild banshee energy out of their system – and at a safe distance from your beautiful linen sofa.

Keep it simple

As we all know, kids are inquisitive (read: easily distracted), so start them off with plants that are child-friendly: those that grow quickly, are hardy or have interesting textures or colours. Give your kids their own garden space and start small. Think a few pots, a large container or a 1 metre x 1 metre patch in the garden. Soon they’ll feel like this activity is really their own.

Use colours and shapes to stimulate them

Kids like large, brightly coloured flowers and vegetables. Sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes and strawberries are all great choices for visually interesting plants.

Strawberries in particular are an easy (and rewarding) plant for your kids to grow, thanks to the added fun of picking and eating your very own berries.

Fruit trees are another great choice. Go for a lemon or orange tree – hello freshly squeezed OJ and lemonade – and make sure you buy an established tree, otherwise you (and your kids) will be waiting years for any fruit!

Stimulation overload – mission impossible in the garden

Create a sensory garden by adding some plants that reward touching, tasting and smelling, alongside those with bright colours and interesting textures. Find some varieties that make noise when the wind blows through them. By stimulating every one of their senses, the garden will quickly capture their attention.

Start a project

Make a mini greenhouse, set up a worm farm and plant flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds and other interesting insects or birds. Show your kids where flowers, fruit and vegetables come from by planting seeds together. You can let them decide what they would like to grow, and they can see the growing process from start to finish. A great little experiment is to grow an avocado from seed. As well as enjoying a bounty of free avocados, you and your kids also get to see the huge seed turn into a plant. Another great way to bring the kids outside is by building a bean or vine teepee. By planting a vertical garden, this will create a fun hideout for the kids and you’ll be having to tell them to come inside for once.

This one is for the parents

Garden organically wherever possible and make sure you only give children garden tools that are safe and that they’re ready to handle. There are heaps of garden tools available now that are made just for kids.