Well it seems to me (as a very amateur gardener) that not all grow your own seems to be worth the effort, because for some crops you need an awful lot of land to make a big impact on your weekly grocery bill. However some fruit & veg definitely do give a great return not only on the financial investment of buying the seeds/bulbs/plants in the first place, but also in terms of the amount of food you can harvest per square inch of garden. I also like the ones that have gorgeous flowers as I grow my food in the flowerbeds, not in an allotment or miles away from the house.
Tip number one, buy things that you like to eat. Sounds obvious, but a couple of years ago I grew massive cabbages and because I was the only one in the house who liked them I quickly got sick of them. So last year I was led by what I spend a lot of money on, and in the top ten was garlic.
Growing Your Own Garlic
On impulse, I bought two bulbs of “Aglio Rosso” alongside my shopping one week, and then simply read the instructions on the packet and planted them exactly as it said: so you split each bulb into cloves, and plant the cloves about 5cm deep in the soil, spaced about 8cm apart. You can plant them any time from October to April and they are ready to harvest from June to August; I planted mine in November 2012.
I’ll be honest, I got a bit impatient and tried harvesting them in August 2013. A couple looked like proper bulbs of garlic but most weren’t quite as they should be so I just stuck them back in the flowerbed and wondered if I had killed them.
Within a few weeks the garlic turned into swan-like plants with white flowers on the end of the stalks and so clearly I hadn’t killed them, but I was convinced I had totally messed it all up and that the garlic was now purely decorative and I had left the harvest too late this time. Beautiful, but not really how it was meant to be as all the books said wait until the leaves go brown & start to droop before harvesting, but none mentioned letting them flower.
But ah well, too late, so I tried digging some up and, miraculously, they looked like real garlic! So, very relieved and rather impressed with myself I harvested the lot – and from 2 original bulbs of garlic I now had 36. That, even using my basic maths, is a pretty impressive return on the original investment.
So, is it worth growing your own garlic? I would definitely say yes. In a few weeks’ time I will be planting some more, but in the meantime I am letting my harvest dry out in the last of the summer sunshine before using it in my cooking. The flowers also taste amazing so I’m just pulling them apart and sprinkling them on top of food. In fact if you look closely you will see that yet again I have been impatient and used some cloves before they have had a chance to dry properly. Some people never learn, myself included!
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