Despite years and years and years of cooking, first with my mother, then at university and then in my own home it turns out that I don’t know what an onion looks like. Nor garlic.
I know this, because this week I decided to do a little harvesting of my increasingly scruffy looking onion and garlic end of the veg bed. I know that it’s onions and garlic in there because that’s what we planted, and I know that somewhere Kitty has a garden notebook that we started last autumn and that will tell us which is onion and which is garlic, but I haven’t seen that for a very long time and I rather suspect it to be in a four year old’s idea of a safe place. And as the leaves came through and I looked at them, I think I’d rather decided that we had garlic at the top and onions in the middle, though I’m not quite sure on what basis. I’ve taken pictures of what I thought was garlic, and read up on when to harvest it and even when the articles talked about onions foliage wilting away and garlic staying stood up, or onions pushing themselves up out of the soil and garlic staying buried I still had it in my head that one was garlic and the other onions.
Until I pulled one up.
It was supposed to be garlic. It was an orangy brown, round and smelt like an onion. Ah. Oops. So I pulled another one. Same result. Small investigations in the other end of the bed revealed two “onions” that were small, white and bumpy.
Well at least I’m unlikely to make that mistake ever again and now we do have our very first tiny harvest from what feels like proper food.
I know strawberries are food, but the biggest daily crop has been nine berries, so they’ve always been grown more for fun than for seriously substituting some of my supermarket shopping. The onions and garlic on the other hand will both disappear into our suppers this week. I walked past the nets of onions on Monday and nearly picked one up before remembering that I can just get one out of the garden.
Which leads me to this week’s question for people who know what they’re doing: Should I pull all the onions and garlic up now and let them dry out a bit somewhere or do I leave them in the ground until I need them? I’ve got at most nine onions so it won’t take me too long to get through them, but the garlic might be a little longer unless I make a few things that have you roast whole heads of garlic, which does sound rather appealing.
And meanwhile the rest of the garden is flourishing. The first batch of strawberries are all but over but from the looks of the second set we should be in for a lovely crop at the beginning of August, and we’ve had rather a lot of soft refreshing rain and one epic thunderstorm so they’re not going thirsty.
The runner beans are poking out of the netting so I shall have to do something clever to let them through, and the two surviving sweetcorn are heading for the skies too, happily both next door to each other.
And on the courgettes/marrow we have big yellow blooms, while around the corner my tomato plant has a smattering of small yellow flowers.
But loveliest of all this week is the dahlia, a present from my garden fairy and just the most gorgeous dahlia ever. It’s like a mini sunshine on a cloudy day, utterly perfect; I’m going to need a whole new bed to grow more of them next year.