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Garlic and Asparagus.

Asparagus season is well upon us now, although it will be over all too soon, however there seems to be an ever-growing interest in this rather unusual vegetable. Traditionally the normal green-stemmed variety has been the only type under cultivation, but like with a lot of vegetables these days, the public seem, to have a fascination with newer strains. A purple-stemmed variety is gaining in popularity as is the white stemmed which also seems to be getting fashionable. I donít know if this is grown using a certain type to help give the pale colour, but I do know that it is grown with restricted light under buckets in the same way you might force Rhubarb, or Sea Kale. I have some spare buckets at the moment, so perhaps before the season is over I will try it and see what happens.
As I have mentioned before, from time to time, you can lose the odd plant, especially in wet winters, or Springs, and although we have had a prolonged dry spell that suits Asparagus, I have still got one or two spaces. So I have just re-planted with a few young seedlings that I had grown earlier in the year for my works open day when I put on a little table selling unusual vegetables for them. It will be a year, or two though before I can harvest from these new seedlings as they take time to develop properly and build up the energy in their roots.

This year the Globe Artichokes have come at the same time as the Asparagus, but they do vary a little from one year to the next. The ďGlobes,Ē are cutting nicely and donít seem to be suffering from the dry weather yet. It promises to be a good season for them from the looks of the plants that are covered with young heads which are growing very fast at the moment.

I have read that Liquorice roots should be harvested in Autumn, but I dug up mine much later and took quite a few root cuttings at the same time that have done well. In fact, I donít think that any failed with all of them shooting nicely now. I brought them on in my greenhouse over Winter to encourage them to shoot, but my old plant is shooting on my allotment now as well, so they can go outside at this time. This method of propagation was much more successful than trying to grow them from seed even though I did have a few germinate. However, the seedlings were very slow to grow and damped off all too easily. 

Another thing that I have not had much success with from seed is Chives. It is so much easier to find someone on the Allotments who already has a bunch and simply split off a few to transplant. I managed to get a little bunch from an adjacent plot to go in with my ďEver Lasting Onions,Ē that have recently been divided and replanted as well.
Still on the subject of the Onion family, I got a bunch of wild Garlic from the grounds of momís nursing home before she passed away. I was going to do some from seed that I collected last year, but the seed didnít germinate. Allium Ursinum, to give it its Latin name, has very pretty white flowers and is ideal for naturalising. Wild Garlic flowers through April until June after which the leaves will die off like they do on most bulbs. The small bunch I acquired divided up into several smaller bunches enabling me to plant a couple of bits in the spinney at work, one in a shady spot in my garden and one bunch under the Medlar tree on my Allotment. I think it is a shame that it is not more popular and is not sold in packets in garden centres like Blue Bells. According to reference works Wild Garlic can be invasive if it is not controlled, but that can be said of many plants that are good for naturalising - including Blue Bells. The big drawback over cultivated Garlic is that it does not produce large, useable Cloves with the bulbs being too small too bother with. It is the young leaves that appear before the flowers develop, or the seed heads that come after the flowers, which you use for cooking. The time that you can harvest this garlic is very short unlike the cultivated Cloves that store for a long time, however, with a lot of herbs you can dry their leaves to keep them, so I see no reason why you couldnít do this with Wild Garlic leaves. This would enable it to be used out of season like dried Parsley, Rosemary, etc. The fresh leaves in particular can be used in cooking to make sauces like pesto. One advantage over cultivated Garlic is that you donít have to replant it every year as you are not actually digging up and using the bulbs.

 

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