Today is garlic day. Well, it should have been yesterday, what with it being the solstice / shortest day and all, but by the time I got back it was dark. It’s tradition: plant your garlic on the shortest day, harvest it on the longest*:
Except for certain suppliers, that is. Grrrrrr.
Ordered shallots, garlic, spuds from Marshalls this year, well in time. Time passes. No sign garlic. Ring Marshalls. Oh no, not despatching this particular garlic until the spring (they sent it in winter, and in time, before). Useless for me. Ring round others. Organic Catalogue, bless ’em, have exactly the same garlic, available now. Have already paid for Marshall’s garlic – they’ve taken the money from my card, of course, on order not despatch – so have not cancelled as chaos will doubtless ensue and will end up with no shallots or spuds either. So now I am going to have a garlic mountain, and an interesting test.
This also meant, a little late in the day, that I had to think quickly about the veg garden plan for next year. And that meant that I had, in all the pre-Christmas chaos, to get out my seed tin and work out what I am intending to grow in 2015. Displacement activity? Oh, surely not.
I do love my garlic. I find it satisfying to grow (except this year, when half of it succumbed to onion white rot and fell over, signalling the problem which now means that for the next eight years at least I will be growing artichokes on that particular bed) and even more satisfying to eat. I’m down to my last clove of this year’s crop, which means that I had enough even with half of it collapsing. And next year I’ll have double. Oh well…
So what will I do with all that garlic, apart from ensuring that my house is avoided by every vampire for miles around? There’s a saying in France that you should never go a day without garlic, and I’m going with it. I will probably not follow the Ancient Egyptian practice of hanging a necklace made from garlic cloves around my neck to deter internal worms, nor will I fasten a similar necklace round the necks of my livestock (only because I haven’t got any) to keep Swedish trolls at bay.
I will, however, cook it in absolutely everything, from having it raw in tsatsiki to roasting chicken with forty cloves. Then there are remedies. I’m going to be free of tension (‘macerate a clove in water overnight and drink it in the morning’), won’t have a single head cold and will have perfect digestion. I won’t be troubled by voice loss, whooping cough, dropsy, bronchial catarrh or bubonic plague. And chewing a few raw cloves will give me the same strength and courage it imparted to ancient athletes. Honest.
Nobody will be able to come near me, but that’s OK: I’ll chew fresh parsley, a raw green bean, an apple or some aniseed. And if there’s any left, I’ll make my famous anti-bug spray for my plants by soaking cloves in water for a week, then diluting the liquid and spraying it on. Not on me, on the plants. There are limits.
Right, here goes – let’s get the first lot in!
* Quick tip for harvesting garlic, apart from the longest day: when six leaves yellow. I’ve found that much more reliable, and less dependent on the vagaries of the summer. Or, of course, when it falls over because there’s onion white rot.