Glorious garlic

If I had only a small patch of soil to grow things in, I’d grow garlic!

Measured by weight, good quality garlic (as distinct from the tasteless white imported garlic) costs more than the best fillet steak, clocking in at over $30/kg at certain times of the year.


Yet once a gardener can manage to surreptitiously lift a few bulbs of garlic from the cook’s precious horde, one can double or triple that weight each year while still retaining enough of the very largest and best-formed bulbs to grow on in the following winter and spring.

Garlic grows easily on the Adelaide Plains, often without the benefit of much irrigation, as it does most of its growing through the winter and spring rainfall periods.

Garlic is typically planted on the shortest day of the year (21st June) and harvested when the foliage has died back on the longest day of the year (21st December). It stores well for about six months if hung in a dry cool and dark place.

Six months ago, I started with a dish of 16 bulbs (link here, scroll down), splitting them into about ten cloves each, where each clove develops into a whole new bulb. I estimate that I’ve harvested about 200 bulbs from that initial batch, though my stock has already been depleted; a small bag of garlic makes a wonderful Christmas gift from gardeners to cooks.

Harvesting potatoes

We plant and harvest potatoes all year round. There are always some potatoes chitting somewhere, to be planted next. Or the next lot is ready for harvesting. This ensures a good supply of fresh, very tasty, organically grown potatoes.

Berry Gnome does not only enjoy growing berries, but also a variety of potatoes. Here is the 'miscellaneous' bed. Mainly Kennebec and some Pontiac.The chooks are eagerly watching - there might be a tasty treat for them somewhere.
The containers are overflowing with big potatoes.
A very happy Berry Gnome bandicooting underneath a potato plant that is still producing heavily.That should keep us going for a while. :)

Home-made ice-cream

...with rapadura sugar. The rapadura gives a lovely caramel flavour.

The best thing about home-made ice-cream - it is super delicious, very easy to make and you determine which ingredients go into the mixture.
So, freshly laid eggs from our free-ranging chooks. Raw cream from a place just around the corner. Plus the not so local, but organic rapadura sugar.

No need for anything else, really.

3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks (next time I will use 4 whole eggs and no extra yolks)
3/4 cup rapadura sugar (or 1 cup, if you like it sweeter)
420 ml cream

Put eggs and sugar into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan with simmering water.
Whisk eggs until the mixture is heated through.
Take off the saucepan, then whisk until the mixture is very frothy and thick-ish.

Whip cream until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg/sugar mixture gently into cream.
Pour into a container of your choice. Lick spoon. Lick bowl.
Cover container. Freeze. Eat.

Harvesting garlic...

... must be one of the most satisfying jobs this time of the year.

The weeding, sowing, planting, pruning, shredding and mulching seems to be never-ending. There is still so much more to do. Luckily, there is the garlic we planted in March, and the foliage is finally starting to dry up a bit.

Ahhh... not even half-way through the first garlic bed and it is looking very good.
Lovely! Let's dry them a little bit - while you have a cup of tea, or so.

All bundled up and drying on a rack.

There are some real rippers in the bunches!

These will be stored in a safe spot, to be planted next season. It does seem a shame to plant out the biggest heads (and not eat them!), but you will be rewarded with tons of big cloves.
There are a few small heads of garlic (Not taking a picture of them!), as I planted them a bit close together at one end of the bed. Lesson learned! Space them apart, so that all of them can grow big and fat.

The secret to a bumper crop? Good soil (I usually plant into a garden bed where we had potatoes the previous season), plant the fattest cloves of garlic you can find, space them well apart, water them well the first few weeks after planting. Then sit back and relax. :)

How to cook broad beans…

Broad beans (Vicia fava) – or ‘fava’ beans as they are sometimes called – are a big meaty bean grown over winter here on the Adelaide Plains, and provide good nutritious accompaniments or light meals in their own right during Spring when other pickings from the garden are at their leanest. DSCN0001 Before the explorers brought green beans back from the Americas, broad beans were the only bean known to Europeans and folk from the Middle East, where it had been cultivated since pre-historic times.

This past winter I’ve grown two different varieties of broad beans; one for eating (Early Long Pod) and one for seed propagation (Aquadulce). As broad beans are partially self-pollinated and partly cross-pollinated, there’s some small chance that I’ve crossed the two varieties, but may yet be saved from that small embarrassment by the different time of flowering of these two varieties.

DSCN0025 Broad beans are grown in blocks and fenced with stakes and strings to help them present a broad shoulder to the gully winds that blow during Spring and which threaten to bend the heavily-laden plants in two.

I cut broad beans from their plants with a sturdy pair of pizza scissors for the same reason; pulling on them only breaks the self-standing plant in two. The larger bottom beans are left on the plants for later podding and drying for next year’s seed.

DSCN0020Once I’ve got a bucketful of young tender beans, its back up to the outside veranda, where the pod can easily be split down the side with a sharp knife, and the big beautiful beans flipped out into a large dish ready for presentation to the waiting cook. DSCN0009






Thinly-sliced onion and crushed garlic are then cooked on low heat in butter and a little olive oil until the onion is almost soft, then the broad beans are added with another dob of butter and a pinch of salt at the end. Don’t over-cook broad beans – just let them warm up and soften a bit. Sometimes  we finish them with grated parmesan cheese to lift the flavour and quell a little of the bitterness.